It’s Okay To Cry Over Spilled Milk

image credit: Toni Hartley

Whoever came up with the proverb “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” likely was NOT a working mom, because we’ve all been there.  Pumping truly is a labor of love. And if that “liquid gold” ever spills, you may just burst into tears.

The first time it happened to me, my daughter was six months old. I had painstakingly pumped while at work. (I was in a manufacturing plant that day and had to be really creative as to where and when I could express milk.) Upon arriving home I opened my little cooler and discovered I hadn’t screwed the tops on tight. Sadly the milk had leaked everywhere. I barely had 3 ounces left! It had been challenging day all around and to my husband’s dismay, I had a complete melt down.

The second time it happened, I was forced to “spill my own milk” because I had traveled to Boston for the day, pumped while there and was trying to bring the milk on board the flight home. I didn’t have several 3 oz. bottles that were required at the time. Instead, I had all of my pumped breastmilk in two large bottles and was forced to dump more than half of it in order to adhere to TSA rules. I was a sobbing mess in the security line.  (Thankfully TSA has changed their rules since then.)

To all you working mothers out there, it is absolutely okay to cry. Going back to work is challenging for a variety of reasons. Leaving your precious little one with someone else is tough enough. Add trying to produce your child’s next few meals while maintaining a “normal work routine” and we should all be given medals of honor!  (

Fear not, it will get easier.  Like anything you do the first few times, it’s a bit scary, confusing and overwhelming. Likely you’ll get in to a routine at your place of employment and before you know it, pumping will be part of your “normal work day.”  Here are a few tips that should help ease the transition:

  1. Schedule pumping. Put in on your calendar just like you would a meeting, conference call or class.  This will help ensure you maintain some form of a schedule and avoid conflicts with colleagues.
  2. Find a clean, quiet place to pump. The bathroom isn’t acceptable. You wouldn’t make your lunch in the bathroom, don’t make your baby’s either! Many work places are very accommodating, if you don’t have a private office or a lactation room, talk with your colleagues to find an ideal location.
  3. Bring a little cooler to store the milk. It doesn’t have to go in a refridgerator. (Be sure you tighten those lids!)
  4. Don’t be embarrassed. Let others know what you’re doing. Put a sign up on the door knob of the room you’re using that just says “Room Occupied.” I had one that said that and had a pink bow to tie it to my office door handle. Trust me, no one is going to want to walk in on you. They will be far more embarrassed that you!
  5. You are doing a terrific job. Remember, that if the milk does spill, you can’t get your usual quantity or something else goes wrong in a given day that the world won’t end. Your baby won’t starve and you are still a great mom.

For more tips on how to ease the transition back to work, download Beaumont’s pdf. If you have any stories you’d like to share or additional tips, we’d love to hear them.

–Sara Locricchio, Parenting Program Volunteer

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