A hashtag has brought together the best and worst places mothers have pumped.
MomsRising, an organization dedicated to creating a more “family friendly America,” started a campaign encouraging moms to share stories of where they’ve pumped using the hashtag #IPumpedHere. The campaign highlights the many places moms have turned to when there is no lactation room or other private area in which to pump or breastfeed.
Many mothers shared images and stories of the uncomfortable and sometimes even unsanitary conditions where they’ve had to pump. From bathrooms to makeshift closed-off areas they put together themselves, the locations in which they’ve pumped are eye-opening.
Sarah Graham, a real estate broker and health and fitness coach in Indiana, shared her experience using #IPumpedHere and posted a photo of the time she pumped in a bathroom stall at the Ft. Meyers airport in Florida.
Graham, whose son Ross will be 3 months old next week, told HuffPost she prefers to breastfeed and pump in private, but few places offer a reserved space for these mothers.
“Aside from baby stores and our church, it’s rare,” she said. “And so I bring my pump with me if we plan to be out longer than three hours. I’ve pumped in several restrooms and the car. I have nursed him at the pool (my sister-in-law held up a towel for me) and on the beach (we had a beach tent) and I’ve gone to a few dressing rooms to nurse as well.”
After collecting similar stories to Graham’s, MomsRising members, along with their kids, arrived at Capitol Hill on Monday to let the politicians know breastfeeding moms need their support. The organization brought photos and stories from mothers who have struggled to find comfortable places to breastfeed.
Ruth Martin, national director for workplace justice campaigns for MomsRising, told HuffPost about a particular #IPumpedHere story that stuck out to her and perfectly summed up why it’s important to share these experiences with Capitol Hill.
“Personally, when I heard about the mom pumping in a coat check closet and handing people their coats while she pumped, I definitely laughed so I wouldn’t cry at the absurdity of it all,” she said. “But, sadly, I was more impressed and surprised when people had stories of the good places they pumped, since we know so many moms are forced to use less than ideal locations. But we hear these stories all the time ― and folks on the Hill do not. So while we weren’t terribly surprised by the ugly and the bad, we do know that these pictures and stories will be eye-opening for policy makers who’ve never pumped in bathroom stalls or moving airplanes before.”
Luckily, some businesses and organizations are ahead of the curve when it comes to providing clean and acceptable areas for breastfeeding moms. Using #IPumpedHere, a few moms shared the lactation rooms or private conditions in which they were able to pump and breastfeed, including those in schools and in airports.
Bryttany Hyde, the blogger behind “Hustle or Hyde,” participated in the #IPumpedHere campaign by sharing a photo of herself pumping in a lactation lounge during the #BlogHer17 conference at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek hotel.
Hyde, mom to a 3-year-old and 16-month-old, told HuffPost she’s only had “a few” negative experiences as a nursing mother, thanks to a supportive husband and family. The #BlogHer17 event, though, went above and beyond her expectations.
“This event in particular, the staff was wonderful!” she said. “They even allowed me to enter the exhibition hall early to have a pumping session before I was uncomfortable.”
When asked what she thought other businesses and public places could do to help breastfeeding moms, Hyde suggested they make more of an effort to learn about the legislation surrounding nursing and teach their employees about it. She also encouraged more airports to provide areas for these parents.
MomsRising is committed to spreading a similar message across the country. Their visit to Capitol Hill was just the beginning to ensure breastfeeding moms have access to comfortable conditions.
“We’re going to keep pushing our elected leaders to make these necessary policy changes," Martin told HuffPost.