It's working for Meghan Mills
District of Columbia
Be confident in knowing the rules. Or ask to speak to someone else if you get someone who is being a pain in the ass about it. My confidence level from that trip onwards just grew.
Meghan knew she wanted to go back to work after having her daughter and taking four and a half months maternity leave. She was less prepared for the cross-country business trip the month after she returned.
“My daughter was 6 months, it was the first time leaving her and it was a really big thing for me,” she said. “I had the anxiety about returning to work in the first place and leaving this brand new beautiful baby that I had been staring at every hour. With that trip on the horizon, it made going back to work more stressful. It was my longest business trip of the year.”
Meghan had a serendipitous meeting with Julia Beck of Forty Weeks. “She introduced me to a woman that was a true road warrior. I was leaving for my first business trip and I had no idea where to begin. Had I not talked to her, I would have thought I had covered myself from start to finish.”
Connecting with that “road warrior,” an experienced mom who had pumped successfully while traveling for work, made Meghan’s experience so much better. “There were so many logistical things that I had not considered. I had done all this research online, you could get a little here or there, but there was no comprehensive resource on what you needed to do. This is what the airline will want, this is what you will do at the hotel. It’s crazy, so many women travel for work, you shouldn’t have to read 15 blogs and sort through all this crap.”
Meghan went to a trade show at a convention center, where the only option she could find was to pump in a bathroom. “I was pumping with the bag hanging on the back of the stall and not touching anything, feeling terrified that I was contaminating my baby by pumping in the bathroom. There are like 40 stalls. Here I am trying to get in the mindset to produce milk and people are flushing toilets all around me.”
She transported her milk to the convention center each day in ice packs, bringing an extra set and having room service freeze the spares to use the following day. She purchased a cooler to carry the milk home, “hard on the inside and soft on the outside,” she described. “The bags can lay flat so you can stack a lot of them in there.” She took it as a carry on, where security swabbed wands over the bag. “All the airports I have been in have been really great about it.”
Her advice to other women: “Be confident in knowing the rules. I could bring the milk through security even if it wasn’t frozen. Or ask to speak to someone else if you get someone who is being a pain in the ass about it. You’re not doing anything wrong. My confidence level from that trip onwards just grew. Who cares what people think, I’m doing this for my baby and for myself.”
And Meghan made sure her voice was heard. “On the post-trip survey, I wrote up a big thing how there has to be some sort of room for pumping women. If there was one, as a pumping mom, I couldn’t find it.”
“It’s a convention center,” she added, “There is probably an extra room somewhere.”