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To not want to express in a toilet at work?

(24 Posts)
NotReadyForThisX2 Mon 01-Apr-19 20:51:41

I'm still on maternity but have been in work on a keep in touch day for training. I mentioned to my boss I'd need to express milk and he said it wouldn't be a problem, would sort me a space etc.
So I go in today and he'd forgotten, the room/office he'd thought o could use, was in use so he suggested I use the toilet. I said no and ended up having to use someone's office.
I don't have a problem with my boss, I know it was a genuine oversight and he apologised. When I said no to using the toilet he was fine and even said, no I don't suppose I'd want to do that.

But I've been told by a friend that a few of our colleagues were having a bit of a moan about my refusal to use the loo. I really don't think I was unreasonable, was I? I've expressed in toilets before on a night out, but for relief and I've not kept the milk. Where as today I needed to keep the milk to take home.
Our work breastfeeding policy says I should be provided with a private room with a lockable door, but I don't think it actually specifies it can't be a toilet.
I'm thinking of going back to work in three months and I'm hoping to still be breastfeeding but this has made me a bit nervous about potentially needing to express when I'm there as I hate the idea of everyone talking about it or thinking I'm being precious (apparently that word was used to describe me).

Bambamber Mon 01-Apr-19 20:53:51

If anyone says anything to you, just ask them if they would be happy to prepare their food and drink in the loo? I know it's hard, but sometimes you just have to hold your head high and ignore what other people are saying

PrincessConsuelaBananahamm0ck Mon 01-Apr-19 20:54:03


PrincessConsuelaBananahamm0ck Mon 01-Apr-19 20:55:32

And definitely not precious. I doubt your colleagues would be happy if the kettle and tea and coffee was moved into the toilets?

littlecabbage Mon 01-Apr-19 20:57:20

From NHS website:

"Workplace regulations require employers to provide suitable facilities where pregnant and breastfeeding mothers can rest.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that it's good practice for employers to provide a private, healthy and safe environment for breastfeeding mothers to express and store milk. The toilets are not a suitable place to express breast milk.

The HSE website has more advice for new and expectant mothers or through the helpline on 0300 003 1747."

CallMeCarolDanvers Mon 01-Apr-19 20:59:48

There are no sockets for an electric pump in a toilet so this isn't a practical solution, as well as being gross and discriminatory.

user1480880826 Mon 01-Apr-19 21:00:09

You were absolutely right to refuse to express in the toilet. Your employer needs to find a suitable space for you.

mathanxiety Mon 01-Apr-19 21:04:06

Yanbu, and your employer and fellow employees need a bit of education here.

You are also entitled not to have to work in a hostile environment arising from your breastfeeding status.

NotReadyForThisX2 Mon 01-Apr-19 21:27:57

Thank you. I think because some of my colleagues know that I've expressed in the toilets on a night out, they've thought I was just being difficult about it. But I threw that milk away, it was just for my comfort and I don't think it's the same when I'm at work anyway.
Wish I'd never gone in today now.

Nowthenforever2019 Mon 01-Apr-19 21:31:22

Tbh I've never been bothered expressing in a loo but as above, they do need to provide you an alternative. I've always done it though, as the offices in my work don't lock and I feel too anxious someone will walk in

BeanTownNancy Mon 01-Apr-19 22:00:10

How old is your baby going to be when you do return to work? I only ask because often babies have dropped a few feeds so you might get away with feeding before and after work and not needing to express during the day. This isn't to say you should not be provided with adequate facilities (- of course you should!) but just that it might not be as bad as you think.

NotReadyForThisX2 Mon 01-Apr-19 22:30:49

8/9 months @BeanTownNancy. Although I haven't informed work yet.
I've got two more keep in touch days coming up, so think I'll see how they go.

CycleWoman Mon 01-Apr-19 22:37:46


You can safely ignore your colleagues moaning as a) it is none of their business and b) as the poster above stated, a toilet is not suitable (for countless reasons!). You honestly aren’t being precious at all.

I feel for you as going back to work can be hard enough and it would be nice if this was one thing you didn’t have to worry about.

SandyY2K Mon 01-Apr-19 23:01:15

In this day and age, the mere suggestion of using a toilet to express is treading on thin ice.

I can't believe the ignorance of your boss.


Were your colleagues moaning after you told them? Did they talk behind your back or did they say it to you?

mondaylisasmile Mon 01-Apr-19 23:08:41

Op you need to push back in this even if you were ok to do it as a once off and were planning to throw it away. Aside from the duty of care / H&S aspects that your manager has been on shakey ground on today, you cannot form a precedent that it's a viable solution.

Can you imagine being a younger less sure breastfeeding employee who's told "well so and so did it, what's your problem?"

Please flag the H&S requirement here and ensure you Use part of your kit day to agree a proper solution upon your return - is your boss going to have to book someone's office out every day for you? That sounds unlikely to be realistic and it's a bit heavy on admin.. can your HR team not help?
E.g. special sign out privilege for the first aid room or something?

mondaylisasmile Mon 01-Apr-19 23:09:52

(first aid room key I mean - that's what I've seen done at work but it does depend on what your office facility is like)

mondaylisasmile Mon 01-Apr-19 23:16:49

Also op you need to cover yourself and ensure you've communicated that you're still breastfeeding in writing to your employer, to obtain the necessary protection/audit trail:.

NotReadyForThisX2 Tue 02-Apr-19 07:34:05

My boss had just completely forgotten and the room he'd thought would be ok to use had been taken over by something else. He was having a bit of a nightmare day I think and with training etc going on the spaces that would have been more suitable to use weren't available.
I wasn't particularly offended that he suggested it, because he was fine and understood when I said no and when he asked it was more in a suggesting anywhere he could think, kinda way.
It was the others whom I think of as colleagues/friends that made me feel unsure.
The one who had to vacate her office (although it's not technically hers) said something in a joking way about this not been a regular thing when I'm back to work, I knew it bothered her though. Then according to my friend she was the one who mentioned it other colleagues and one of them (who I did/do consider a friend) said oh but she's ok doing it in the loos on a night out. My other friend told me as she didn't think it was right that they were discussing it quite openly with everyone else and she wanted to know if I wanted her to speak to our boss about it or not.

BeanBag7 Tue 02-Apr-19 07:49:19

I went back to work when DD was 9 months and continued to breastfeed no problem (shes 2 now and not stopped yet).
She used to have 1 or 2 bottles of formula during the day and then I fed her morning, evening and all day when I was home.
If you want to pump, of course you must be provided a proper room and you're not unreasonable to want this, but it definitely is possible to continue breastfeeding without pumping at this age.

NotReadyForThisX2 Tue 02-Apr-19 07:57:05

He's only 5, almost 6 at the moment @BeanBag7 so he hasn't had anything but breast milk yet and still feeds a lot through the day. I wouldn't be able to last a day without expressing at the moment, I'd be in agony.
Obviously don't know when I go back properly yet. We're going to try him with some food this weekend so I guess it will depend how he takes to that.

BeanBag7 Tue 02-Apr-19 07:59:14

I thought I read you were going back at 8/9 months, sorry. So if your colleagues are concerned about you using their space you probably won't be (much) when you go back properly.

ClaraLane Tue 02-Apr-19 08:04:47

When I went back to work my daughter was 10 months and I expressed once a day which was really just for my comfort. She was fine only having whatever I could express and then food and water for the rest of the day.

You’re definitely not being precious about not wanting to express in a toilet - I wouldn’t want to do that either! I don’t know how big your workplace is but I used to express in the multi faith prayer room - do you have anywhere like that at work? If not I think you might be better to ask your boss if there’s a meeting room he can book for you to have a couple of times a day. That way no-one else will expect to use it.

ScreamScreamIceCream Tue 02-Apr-19 08:47:01

OP as a PP stated inform both you boss, HR and any other relevant person in writing (email) pointing out relevant regulations/laws - if companies don't know they won't know not to discriminate.

In regards to your colleagues tell them face-to-face you threw the milk away on the night out as is against Health and Safety regulations plus unhygienic for you to express in a toilet and allow your baby to consume that milk. Don't be apologetic about telling them.

Unfortunately with lots of aspects where people can discriminate I found you have to be completely blunt about their legal responsibilities plus your rights.

I've been to a conference where I got my own expressing room after telling them a few days in advance, and I have two rooms I can use at my current client even though I'm not even a permanent member of staff.

NotReadyForThisX2 Tue 02-Apr-19 11:55:31

We have a breastfeeding policy which includes expressing. So HR and my boss are aware, they sent me the policy in my maternity pack of information etc.
He'd forgotten I'd said I was coming in yesterday.

I emailed him today about my next days in and he apologised again and said he'd make sure it was organised for next time. I didn't mention what anyone else had said, I was tempted but I'm not there and don't want everyone bitching about me while I'm out. Plus I've to tell them I'm pregnant again at some point, so don't want to rock the boat too much.
My friend said if she hears it mentioned again she say that when I was out I threw the milk so it's obviously different.

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