I cleaned out the “baby” cabinet a few weeks ago, filled with mismatched bottle lids and sippy cups, and threw away some old pump parts which reminded me of the time I pumped in the Admiral’s Club. Soon after I returned to work from maternity leave last year, I had five or six business trips lined up in a row. I was on trip number three, which made it very challenging to maintain my desire to feed Miss C an exclusively breastmilk diet, especially since my original stash spoiled on New Year’s Eve.
On this particular trip, my flight left a 6:30am, and I woke up way too late to do everything I needed, including pumping. When I arrived at the airport for my four hour flight, I knew I needed to pump before we were wheels up. I asked the gate attendant for a suggested location, and she pointed me towards the family bathroom. I headed there, glad I was going to pump and dump, because I was yet to pump in a bathroom after baby #3. After my experiences with the boys, I now have a different approach and perspective. When I’m out of the home and need to pump, I ask business owners, “where is your mother’s room,” with confidence and an unapologetic attitude, and space is made for me. Six years ago, with Gadget, I barely left the house with him, afraid to have to nurse in public.
Disgusted by the germs in the bathroom, I decided when I landed I would pump in a cleaner, nicer environment. As I deplaned, I saw signs for the Admirals Club, which I vaguely remembered having access to via my corporate Airpass membership. I marched up the club’s lobby desk and asked for their mother’s room, and was shown to a stone lined private locker room, which was heavenly compared to the previous facility. Even though I had to pump standing up, it was an upgrade I appreciated.
Throughout my years as a mother, I have found the best places to breastfeed are: fitting rooms, the mother’s room at Babies R Us, the mother’s room in nice department store like Bloomies, private lockerooms, and drumroll please, the Admirals Club. I love the privacy they offer, but I am not ashamed to whip out my nursing cover and feed baby anywhere. It took several years to muster this strength. I never breastfed Gadget in public. Ever. But after living in Manhattan with two young boys, I decided it was better that strangers were uncomfortable instead of me, and I used my stylish cover to nurse the Lion on the go. With baby number three, I realize that finding a clean, safe place to pump is not at all unreasonable, and I expect to find one when outside of house. I assume I will be accommodated in some form, and this sense of expectation has worked well. I used to sheepishly, almost embarrassingly assume I should pump in the bathroom. But not anymore! I breastfeed Miss C until she was ten months old, and proudly look back at the experience and appreciate the confidence I gained by giving myself permission to feel comfortable pumping outside of the home without limitation.