*I originally wrote this post for liberatingworkingmoms.com on November 14, 2014.
I am now placing it here for safe keeping.*
“Now get out there, attach a machine to one of the most sensitive and private parts of your body, and make the magic happen. You’re a warrior. You’re a badass. You’re a working mother, and that’s an amazing thing. And when you see one of us on the street, on the elevator, or on the subway (you’ll know us by our “this is supposed to look like a briefcase” pump bag), know that we are with you. We’re exhausted. We have dried breastmilk on our work pants and on our laptops. We have pumped in places we never imagined. And we think you’re awesome.” – Jessica Shortall, Work. Pump. Repeat: How to Survive Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work.
As soon as I began reading Jessica Shortall’s new book, Work. Pump. Repeat: How to Survive Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work, my immediate thought was, “Where the hell was this book five years ago when I needed it!?” As Shortall says, “In a world overflowing with more parenting books and Pinterest sites and mommy blogs than you can shake a positive pregnancy stick at, why is the Motherhood Industrial Complex failing us when it comes to breastfeeding in the working world? I think a big driver of this problem is that so much of breastfeeding education and care is focused on those early days and weeks, when breastfeeding is often confusing, painful, and exhausting. The relatively new phenomenon of lots of women heading off to work with breast pumps in tow is just not covered in the same way by the breastfeeding literature. For me, other working mothers have been the only source for practical, honest, and funny information; war stories; and insightful insider tricks. Only they truly get the guilt, pressure, and anxiety that breastfeeding at work can add to the already stressful situation of going back to work. And only they can make you laugh about the whole thing, when nobody else in the world seems to find any of this even remotely funny.”
Shortall manages to be both hilarious and informative in the non-condescending manner that can only come from someone who has truly been there. In doing her research, Shortall spoke with hundreds of working moms about their experiences with pumping in (and out of) the workplace. The result is a holy grail of information that ranges from the basics (how to choose, use, and wash your pump), to the big stressors (legal rights of breastfeeding mothers, creating a plan for every day pumping at work, supply issues, and dealing with business travel), and finally to the ever so hilarious awkwardness of dealing with your curious coworkers.
There is a crowdfunding campaign going on at www.workpumprepeat.com now through Dec. 4, 2014. This is the best way to guarantee that this book gets the funding and publicity it deserves. Please go check out the website for more information and your chance to pre-order the book, which will be published in January. Adult diapers not included.
Seriously though, it is worth the read if only for the horror stories, one of which includes the actual Harlem Globetrotters. The worst place I ever pumped was standing in a public restroom with my pump on the baby changing table while hordes of teenage girls wandered in and out wondering “what is that whooshing sound?” Tell me the worst place you’ve ever pumped in the comments.
Disclosure: I was provided with an early copy of this manuscript, but was not otherwise compensated for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own, dammit.