The office is about to open when my office manager—I’ll call her Sally—walks up to me and says, “Did you see the pumping space I made for you?”
“No,” I respond. Sally and I walk in the door to an office that holds two nurse triage personnel. There is a rod with a shower curtain hanging that exposes a 3 x 21/2-foot area at best. One of the “walls” is the bookshelf and the other two walls are the corner of the office. The fourth “wall” is the shower curtain. Sally says she bought the supplies herself, smiles, and then leaves.
I run to grab my pump and pumping bag while panic consumes my confusion. There is no room for my pump. Even in a true office space, I could barely manage enough room for the pump, tubing, flanges, bottles, paper towels, water, and nursing bra, let alone the cooler for the milk.
I move quickly—my first patient will be here soon. I search the office for a small table and I find one in the bathroom; I put it immediately outside the homemade cubicle. I put my pump on the table. The electrical cord to my breast pump doesn’t reach any of the outlets. My heart skips a beat. My patient will be here any minute. I move the table toward the closest outlet. With the breast pump’s electrical cord completely extended and the tubing stretched, my pump is plugged in but it is sitting about 1 foot outside of the cubicle.
In order to breastfeed and meet patient access demands, I am dividing my lunchtime throughout the office day to pump. However, this dedicated pumping time frequently gets booked with patients. When I ask for the patients booked in my pumping times to be rescheduled, I am told “Oh, you can’t see them?” or “Are you sure?” or “But there isn’t another time available in your schedule.”