Though government legislation and workplace policies aim to make it easier for women to get their breastfeeding-related needs accommodated by their employer, any nursing mother knows that pumping milk in the workplace involves way more than reserved time and space. Policies don’t prevent things like leaking breasts, nosy coworkers, or meetings that run long. Are you wondering how to delicately handle some of the more awkward situations that come about because you’re a working, pumping mom? Read on for some great tips.

1. Your coworker pops in for a “quick chat” just as you’re ready to start your pumping session. Your schedule for the day is packed, but you’ve meticulously planned out your pumping sessions to coincide with brief breaks between appointments. Protect this time with both firmness and kindness – keeping a consistent pumping schedule is essential to maintaining your milk supply.

f you’re not comfortable disclosing the reason your time is limited, simply say, “’Im sorry, I don’t have any time right now, but I do want to touch base. Let’s set a time for later.” Then, on the spot, review your schedules and set a time to meet. If time is of the essence, request that they send you an email and promise to respond to it by the end of the day.

2. Your breasts start leaking at the worst possible moment. Leaking breasts are a constant battle for nursing moms. Whether you’ve gone too long between pumping sessions, or hear an emotional story that causes a milk let-down, there’s no way to control your body’s natural response. At the moment it happens, before your milk leaks through your bra and shirt, quickly and quietly excuse yourself to prevent embarrassment.

To prevent this from turning into a regular awkward situation, wear breast pads daily. LilyPadz Nursing Pads are a unique alternative to the traditional bulky disposable pads. Made of thin, discreet silicone that attaches directly to the nipple, they actually prevent leaks by keeping the milk in your breast. Not only do you avoid a potential wardrobe malfunction, but you also prevent that milk from being leaked and wasted.

3. Your office door is shut and locked – but a persistent client or coworker knocks anyway. Some people are a little clueless and aren’t quite sure what’s going on. They see a closed door but hear a strange noise (your pump), so they know you’re in there and hope you’re available to see them. If this happens in-the-moment, you can either choose to ignore them or call out to them and let them know you’ll be available in ten minutes.

To prevent this awkward situation in the future, put a note on your door every time you pump. It doesn’t have to say you’re pumping; it can simply say, “Please no interruptions. I’ll be available at 2:30.

4. You need to wash your pump parts in the common break room. While breastfeeding is nothing to be ashamed of, every mother has a different level of tolerance for open disclosure of their status as a nursing mom. For women who prefer discretion, it can make trips to the break room to wash breast pump parts uncomfortable if other people are present or ask questions.

Antibacterial wipes are available specifically to clean breast pumps; using these can allow you to clean your breast pump parts in the privacy of your office.

5. You’re on-the-go and don’t have the luxury of a central office to pump regularly. Not everyone has an office and a regular schedule. Many people travel between locations or are frequently on the go. To ensure you are still able to do your job AND pump as necessary, invest in a travel-friendly breast pump and accessories. Breast pumps have converters that plug into a car’s cigarette lighter, and hands-free pumping bras leave your hands available to work (or drive), meaning your pumping sessions will have minimal impact on your schedule and productivity.

6. Your boss really wants your opinion in an impromptu meeting. Ask if you can call in via speakerphone from your office. Mute your end of the line so that you can listen to the discussion in the meeting and not cause interruptions with the sound of your pump. Un-mute the phone when you have something you’d like to contribute. If you feel that the sound of your pump will be distracting (or it makes you uncomfortable), stop your pump for the brief moments you are speaking.

Don’t worry mama, you’ll be just fine. Every pumping mom encounters awkward situations in the workplace, but with a little forethought and planning, some of the most difficult situations can be easily avoided. Don’t let the demands of your job infringe on your need to pump; just get a little creative, and you’ll find that you’ll be able to do both.

– This post was written by Jenny Silverstone. Jenny is the mother of two, a blogger, a writer at Studyclerk and a breastfeeding advocate. You can find her sharing useful breastfeeding tips & parenting advice more at