pumping on a psych ward

14 May

Alternative title: anna’s tatas on display in the most unflattering way

For the first three weeks of my psych rotation, I’m on the dual diagnosis unit at Presbyterian, where patients are treated who have both a substance abuse issue and some other psychiatric disorder.  It’s a fantastic learning experience.  But, on a ward where you require a key to get in to a linen closet-size hallway bathroom and there is exactly one break room for all staff, you can imagine that places to pump are limited.  And Presbyterian is an old hospital.  With decade-old sugar packets and rancid peanut butter jars lining the cupboards of the break room, I would not be shocked to see a rat, or at least a cockroach, scurrying across the floor.

This is where I’m pumping between patients, crouched behind the deep dish-washer sink.  I’ve hit my head three times on the damn paper towel dispenser.  My attending has gotten a full-on view of my cattle-like breasts at least twice.  And I think I’m starting to get carpal tunnel due to awk pumping positions.

The first time my attending saw me pumping, he turned around quickly and apologized emphatically.  In an effort to make him feel not so embarrassed, I thoughtlessly stammered, “Oh!  No no, I don’t care at all!”  To which he replied, “But dooo!!!”

Fair enough.

(Side note: I have received nothing but support and encouragement in my efforts to continue breastfeeding.  One of the therapists recently offered the use of her office on another floor, I just haven’t been able to take advantage of it due to time constraints.)

Right now, my experiences have only added a little extra comedy to my days back in clerkships.  But they have made me think about what I’ll choose if I have infants while in residency.  I’m thankful for the wealth of options I, and more women, have.

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7 Responses to “pumping on a psych ward”

  1. Jim Gaul May 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    It’s been many years since Becky expressed and saved milk, but she was so determined to give Katy that good start. I remember her going into one of the bathroom stalls in the old federal building where we worked. Her male co-workers wanted to know nothing about it. ;-o

    Anyway, good for you Anna!

    • annaojesus May 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

      Oh wow! That’s awesome!!! What a rockstar! Thank you for the encouragement 🙂

  2. Rosie May 15, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    When John Paul was a baby I had to judge district chorus auditions, and they built in zero time for breaks. And made me judge the soprano 1s, so there were a trillion girls and NO possible way to get out of the room. I strapped on my pumping bra (a BRILLIANT invention), hooked myself up to the double pump, threw on my cover for “modesty” and pumped away during the auditions! They made sure my fellow judge was a mom who understood 😉 Only one girl asked what the weird noise was! You are AWESOME for finding the time and the space to do this for Ari!!!

    • annaojesus May 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

      Hi Rosie! Too funny! Man, you are an awesome mama. I love that story.

      I’m so glad you liked the nursing bra–so many mamas I trust (including Tina) recommend it, I really need to buy one!

      Out of curiosity, do you still use a cover in public? Many, many thanks! xoxo

  3. Jamie May 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    love this post (pumping on a psych ward)! i have been studying for step 1 of medical boards trying to pump at school. i found a shower in the women’s locker room that does not get used a ton and i hide in there and do board practice questions while i pump:)

    • annaojesus October 4, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

      Hi there! I am so sorry for the late response–I have been so haphazard about responding recently :/ I’m really glad you liked this post–thank you for telling me. And I hope step 1 went well for you. I do not envy you having to study and pump. Glad to hear you found a place, though it sounds less than comfortable. You are a trooper!


  1. medical choices | anna in med school - May 15, 2013

    […] This post was not intended as a complaint.  Still, I wanted to qualify the light-hearted mockery of the situation since I hit “publish” the same day this thoughtful article hit the stands.  The latter is a beautiful contribution to the discussion about the choices of women who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. […]

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