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‘I should have stood my ground’

Ellen is a counselor in secondary special education, a thriller author at publisher De Fontein, mother of Lewis and Miles (11 and 8) from a previous relationship and gave birth to daughter Sophia with her boyfriend Nils in November.

I can still see myself sitting there – after I came back from leave after Lewis was born – in the janitor’s cubicle at my old work, with my rotten breast pump. The approach was for a longer period of time
pumping, but once in that janitor’s pen my production was getting less by the day.

It made me mortally unhappy. The room was cold and messy, full of tools and there were two doors that I couldn’t close properly. The idea that students could be in that cubicle at any moment made me tense. I had often indicated that it was impossible, that I was entitled to a better space, but there was simply none. Yes, the toilet. Super sad, in hindsight. I should have stood my ground more.

So much stress

My production became so bad that I could cry if I accidentally put ten milliliters of milk next to a
bottle threw, because every drop was needed for Lewis. I already had so little left. I had no stock in the freezer and what I pumped at work was needed for the next day, and Lewis was a greedy baby. It was so stressful. All in all, I decided to stop pumping and switch to bottle feeding during the day when Lewis was about seven months old, so that it would be a relaxed situation for myself again. When I was at home I breastfed him and that combination went well until he was fifteen months. At Miles – on Curaçao – I worked short days and I didn’t have to pump. I didn’t miss it at all.

“I should have stood up more”

So much nicer

How different it is now. I have a nice double electric breast pump with no tubing or anything, those
I can just tuck it into my bra (I’d love to tell you which one if you’re interested. It’s not expensive!). I started pumping early to build up a supply, so the freezer is full (hurray for the breast milk bags). At my current work I have a nice place, with a soft chair and a table. No one can get in and there is water. The three pumping moments are relaxed and my production remains up to standard.

Last Friday I was allowed to go to it Book ball in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam, together with
Nils and the lovely team of publisher The fountain. A full evening program, so I had mine
hand pump included. The employees of the Stadsschouwburg stood looking for a moment when I asked if they had a breast pump room. Fortunately, they also understood that a dark cupboard for technical stuff was not really sufficient, so I was allowed to go all the way upstairs to the artists’ dressing rooms. How special! Pumping had never brought me to such a cool place before.

A right

A good pumping space is a right you have when you are breastfeeding. Don’t be put off
in a place where you feel uncomfortable. I wouldn’t accept that now – unlike eleven years ago. It would be an eternal shame if you had to breastfeed
discontinue due to poor butt space.

More Ellen? Follow her on Instagram. You can read her previous columns here.

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