A few weeks ago, I found myself on a train from New York City to New Haven, Connecticut. It had been about three hours since I had last pumped, and the train ride was going to be at least 90 minutes long. I did the mental math, and there was just no way around it: I was going to have to whip out my boobs and pump right then and there. I took a deep breath, grabbed my pump parts, plugged in my Medela, reversed my Snyder sweater so it was like a smock a kid wears in art class, lifted up my Marcia T-shirt, and unlatched my bra. “Here goes nothing,” I said to no one, as I turned the big yellow knob and the familiar whirring began.
I’ve long admired women who breastfed and pumped in public and was excited to eventually be one of them. But thanks to Covid, I have spent the majority of my breastfeeding months sheltered in my apartment, and the world has hardly seen my face—nevermind any other part of me. So this experience—like most experiences in new motherhood—was not only a first, but an honorable feat. In that moment, I felt like I had earned some kind of cool mom badge for mastering a new skill: Pumping on a Packed Commuter Train.
I exclusively breastfed for six months, and began supplementing with formula when my daughter started daycare (fed is best!), but I definitely felt a bit lost in the beginning. I knew absolutely nothing about pumping before I had to do it—from the ins-and-outs of storing milk, to what it actually feels like (not even physically, I’m talking emotionally). And, as I sat there on the train nonchalantly making food for my baby, I began reflecting on everything I had learned about pumping over the last eight months and everything I wish I had known before becoming a mom. (Seriously, why didn’t anyone tell me...anything?)
Luckily, I know I’m not alone. I reached out to some new moms at M.M., including our CEO, Sarah LaFleur, who welcomed three babies this year (more on that soon!), to commiserate all the things we wish we knew about pumping before we had to do it.
(An aside: I’m really sad we couldn’t have this conversation in person, in M.M. HQ’s “Mother’s Room,” which is exclusively for pumping.)