Some “Do”s and “Don’t”s when in the office lactation space. At my office there are two cubes in our room, so that set-up does influence some of these tips. Some of these things may or may not have happened to me or fellow co-workers of mine.
“DO” say hello to your fellow lactating mama when you enter the room and one of the cubes is already occupied. Signs of occupation include: the light in the room is already on, the sound of a pump is present, the “occupied” sign is flipped on a cube, etc. Saying hello lets your fellow pumper know that you are female and you respect the other female in the room.
“DON’T” wonder in to a cube to make sure it is unoccupied. “DO” vocalize your question instead: “Hi. Is this cube occupied?” or “Which cube are you in?” Walking in on a co-worker pumping could be awkward.
“DO” feel free to engage in cordial conversation with your fellow pumper. “DON’T” continue to attempt engagement if the other person in the room clearly doesn’t want to communicate which is generally demonstrated by either their one-word answers to your questions or not answering your inquiries at all (maybe she has her headphones on or something). Pumping is an intimate act and not everyone wants to talk while hooked up to the machine. (I actually like a little conversation as I find pumping a bit boring, but it seems that most of my lactating co-workers are a bit more introverted.)
“DON’T” use the lactation space if you aren’t pumping, such as escaping your desk to take a nap, call your sister, cry about your last meeting/meager pay/insensitive office mates/etc. “DON’T” use the pumping space if you’re not a lactating mama.
“DO” feel free to multi-task while pumping, including eating lunch, reading blogs, checking email, etc.
“DON’T” make phone calls from the lactation room. It is perceived as an invasion of privacy by your fellow pumper. And it’s generally weird. Do you make calls from the bathroom? Well, you shouldn’t. Gross. (And I’m not AT ALL saying the bathroom and the lactation room are the same because they ARE NOT but the privacy etiquette required is similar for both places.)
“DON’T” leave your lunch/breakfast/snack leftovers in the lactation room fridge (prompting a “Why does my breast milk smell like onions?” at the end of the day) and “DO” clean up your crumbs.
“DO” clean up in general after you are done pumping. Breast milk is awesome but no one wants someone else’s milk (or my own milk, really) all over the table they are about to use. It can get sticky. And just generally gross. Clean up includes any spots impacted by milk spills, should they occur, including the floor base boards (ours are speckled with milk, ew), chair, cube walls, etc.
“DO” say “Bye!” or “Have a nice day!” to anyone else left in the room when you leave. This lets the other person know for sure that they are by themselves again.
“DON’T” turn off the lights in the room when you leave if someone is still in there. “DO” turn off the lights to save energy if you know the room is empty. “DO” double-check the occupancy status of the room with a quick, “Hello?” or “Is anyone still here?”
“DON’T” assume others in neighboring offices can’t hear you singing at the top of your lungs while you pump. This is distracting to co-workers.
“DON’T” talk about fellow pumpers habits in the room with anyone else, be they a lactater or not. That’s just rude.
“DO” respect others, protect privacy and positively support your fellow lactaters.