Breastfeeding & Pumping on the Berkeley Campus

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Using the Lactation Rooms on Campus

Note: See the University Health Services' web page about their Breastfeeding Support Program here:

May 2002

I am interested in hearing about other breastfeeding mothers' experiences ''pumping'' on the UCB campus. Now that the campus has Lactation Rooms and the new law regarding ''pumping moms'' is in place I'd like to hear how other parents are handling break time and/or finding private places to pump. Whether you are a student, faculty or staff, feel free to chime in. Heidi

I signed up for the UC lactation program and used one of their lactation rooms. The room I used was okay. The chair was comfortable but it lacked a table which would have been nice. During the 3 months that I used the room I only had to wait to use it once. The program coordinator was very helpful and worked to speed up the availability of a room that was most convenient to my campus location. A. Anderson

I never used the lactation rooms on campus because they were in such limited locations. I used a closet in the office that I worked in that had a plug. It wasn't ideal, but it worked fine. In terms of release time, I work very independently so it wasn't an issue for me. I told my boss that I would be pumping and she was fine with me doing it on my schedule. Pumping Mom

I have used the lactation room in Evans Hall, and I was very pleased with the experience. Of course, I work on the same floor as it, so I consider myself very lucky!

The room has a couch, a table with the pump on it, and a lamp. It's very small, and there's almost nothing to look at. I used to read professional magazines and other work- related stuff while I was pumping. The room has a punch- key type lock, so only people in the lactation program can use it. The hospital-grade pump in the room is really excellent. The room is located next to the women's restroom so it's easy to use the sink to clean everything up.

At first, I pumped 3 times a day, about 10, 1, and 4. I considered these to be my break times. After about 4 months, I moved down to once a day. I was lucky that my workgroup was very flexible and supportive about the time I needed. I am so very appreciative to have had this program in place so that this room could be available to me. Mimi

I am a UCB staff member, and I used one of the lactation rooms for about 9 months twice a day, four days a week. The room I used was small but comfortable and private. It had a sofa, table and chair as well as the supplied hospital grade pump and an outlet for those who brought their own pumps.

Some moms didn't mind sharing the room (if only one was using the hospital grade pump) but others preferred privacy. Occasionally I had to wait. Proximity to the bathroom for washing up before and after was crucial. At first I brought my pump but soon realized that I needed it at home to pump extra to keep up with my hungry baby. Buying the kit to use the hospital pump was a bargain and it worked as well as my Medela.

For me it took 20-25 minutes each time I pumped for the total trip: walking to the nearby building, washing up, pumping, washing up again, walking back. I pumped mid-morning and mid-afternoon, using my 15 minute breaks, and I visited my baby in person every lunch hour to nurse. Since it took longer to pump each time than 15 minutes I worked an hour or two extra from home each week to make up for it. Luckily my unit was flexible and supportive.

The breastfeeding program staff were extremely helpful and friendly, and it was fun to cross paths with other new moms and see the pictures of the babies posted. -Charis

I expressed milk on campus for about 5 months, 2-3 times a day, 3 days a week after I returned from 4+ months maternity leave. It was hard work!! I rented a pump and left it in the locked ''resting room'' attached to the women's bathroom in my building (Wurster Hall). There was no official policy at the time, so I just worked out a plan that seemed doable. I found that scheduling regular times to pump worked best for me because I didn't have to explain to co-workers why I was leaving, and my milk supply was ready. The bathroom was very close by so I didn't spend a lot of time getting to and from. The first few months were very successful in terms of stamina and milk production. I'd say that by the 4th month, things started tappering off. This was mostly because I was so exhausted going back to work, but also because my milk just couldn't be pumped anywhere near my son's appetite. Also, for me, there was an emotional level to pumping milk that made it more demanding than simply nursing. Overall, I would say it was still a very successful expressing scheme. He still nursed a LOT at home, supplemented with home brew (another story), and was weaned around his first birthday. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss more. Claire

I used one of them a couple of times last year and was disappointed - no table, no pump & not very clean. I found a room in our building which isn't very private, but does have a plug and a bench. I think campus should be urged to provide more funds for this valuble program -try writing to those people mentioned in the memo sent around about the UCB Breastfeeding Support Program - Health*Matters is doing a great job, but more resources wouldn't go amiss! As to the break time, my supervisor has been very flexible - I set my own times & just make sure that everything is under control before I go pump. Happy pumper

Questions about Pumping on the UC campus

August 1999

Hi there, I am a mom who has been pumping at work here on campus for about 4 months. When I first started I pumped in the restroom since I am a clerical staff person and do not have my own office. Occasionally I used my boss's office when she left early or was on vacation. Sometimes however the bathroom is unusable (the toilets overflow and make the whole place unsanitary). When this happened the last time, we had a person out on vacation for a month so I stopped using the bathroom. Now I don't really want to have to go back. I want to ask our DPA if there can be some accomodation made so that I can use vacant office space, or the office of someone who works part time. I am wondering if anyone out there has done this and had it work out, or bomb? Also, I can't seem to find a UC poilcy to support pumping. If I go to the DPA is it going to cause trouble by attracting attention to my activities? Any advice or info on this would be appreciated. Thanks

If you had to inject insulin or engage in some other essential bodily function, would you be concerned about asking? Ask. I no longer work for UC but did for ten years. I was fortunate enough to have my own office, but I often traveled while I breast fed my first son (now five), whom I nursed for 15 months. I am now nursing my second son (6.5 months) and working. So I have about 12 months of working and pumping under my belt. I have called absolute strangers in the hallowed halls of academe and made pumping arrangements. The New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia made arrangements for me to pump and I didn't even work there. So go ahead and ask with the expectation of being accomodated. Be specific about your needs: time(s), duration, door, socket, whatever. This is an essential, life supporting function. You are not asking for a favor or a place to do your nails during work hours. Good luck.

I don't know where you work on campus, but the Women's Resource Center should be nearby, as it is located in the Cesar Chavez Student Learning Center. There is a room there called something like Parent's Corner, which is available to university moms who need a quiet place to breastfeed, pump, or even take a short nap. This room is definitely open to undergraduate and graduate students, but I am not sure about faculty and staff. Why don't you give them a call, or visit their website? Good luck.

A bug in your ear! Did you know that UC Davis has several (5) mother's rooms on campus set aside for students, faculty and staff who are breastfeeding. The Associate Vice Chancellor, Dennis Shimek, made it a priority each time a building was being renovated or built to have a breastfeeding room included. They even provide hospital grade pumping machines! It seems a valid request during all the seismic renovation going on here on campus, that such rooms be included in the plans. This may be an issue that students, faculty and staff could work together to accomplish. Good luck.

Note: as of 2000, the campus provides rooms and equipment for pumping breastmilk to faculty, staff, and students. Please see Campus Breastfeeding Support Program

Feb 1999

I am a student and pump in the Student Parent Project, at 250 Cesar Chavez. There are always babies around so letdown is never a problem :-). Laurel

I never found any lactation room on campus. I rented a portable Medela and pumped in a restroom in VLSB for six months. At first I was appalled, but soon grew accustomed to the routine (and the pipes against my back). At least it was convienent and I was able to pump ten ounces (including set-up and clean-up) within my 30 minute lunch break. It does seem that some lactation accommodations are needed at Cal.

I sincerely doubt that there is any lactation room anywhere on campus, though a few women's rooms have small couches. Please reconsider renting a pump to bring to work -- not even the portable kind; go for the double-barrelled heavy equipment. A few years back they were available for about $30-35/month. Ask your male office-mate to take a break at about the same time every day (you tell him what time is best), then close & lock the door. **Expect people to be supportive, understanding, and accommodating, and 9 out of 10 will live up to your expectations.** I used to put a sign on my door: Back in 5 oz. Put the milk in the freezer immediately, and bring a thermal carrier to take it home every day. Always approach the situation armed with the knowledge that you are doing something that is appropriate, laudable, and worthy of others' small accommodations to your (and your child's) needs. Good luck!

Sadly, I know of know lactation rooms around campus. It is a difficult thing to do. A (male) collegue of mine (in charge of the keys in the building I worked in at the time) didn't understand why I didn't want to do it in the bathroom!!! (I considered asking him if he minded if someone fixed *his* next meal in the bathroom!) What I did discover, however, is that in some of the women's bathrooms around campus there are extra little rooms off to the side. These are windowless boxes, usually containing a cot, and often containing an outlet (yay !). I found these to be perfect for pumping. The ones I know of personally are: *Women's Staff-only restroom on the 3rd floor of Tolman hall, Education side (you might be able to put a deposit down for a key if you are not staff) *Women's restroom on the 5th floor of Etcheverry Hall. I'm sure there are more, but I haven't actually laid eyes on them yet. Good luck finding one that suits your needs! Dawn

What you need in a pumping room is basically privacy, and preferably a chair and table to sit down. I work at a front-desk job, but I was fortunate to find rooms nearby to pump. The rooms that I used were basically storage rooms. I had an understanding with co-workers that I would be using the rooms at certain times and put up an In Use. Do Not Disturb sign on the door. Sometimes I also used people's offices when they were out-of-town or what not. At the very worst, there is a private toilet at the other end of the building two floors up, but there no place to sit. Find congenial people to talk with about it and make your needs known. Hitting on the right supportive people may help you find a place more easily than you think. I don't see how you can do without a portable pump. Try to advertise for a used one. I was pumping three times a day, and sometimes more when I was trying to boost milk production. The closer and easier your pumping room is the saner your life will be. Good luck to you! Lisa