Milk leaking through your shirt. Swollen, painful breasts. Mastitis, a serious infection that can land you in the hospital. This is what happens to nursing women when they can't express their milk every few hours.
I'm a working mom, and the first time I had to travel for work after giving birth was from my home in Philadelphia to Washington, DC. To keep up with my son's voracious appetite, I need to either nurse or pump every 2-3 hours. So, in addition to the usual laptop and phone, I packed my bag with my electric pump, pump tubing, breast shield with valve, bottles, extra bottles, a mini cooler to keep the pumped milk cold, and a hands free nursing bra.
I pumped before I left the house, but knew that I'd need to pump again as soon as I got off the train at Union Station in D.C. I've had mastitis before, and did not want to endure those flu-like symptoms and searing breast pain ever again.
But when I arrived at Union Station, breasts aching, I couldn't find a private, clean place to express my milk. The public restroom was crowded, dirty, and didn't have anywhere I could plug in my pump. I asked the women at the information desk where I could find the lactation room, and they informed me that there wasn't one. They suggested trying Potbelly's restroom so I'd have more privacy.
I wound up going to a nearby Starbucks where I spent 15 minutes pumping in their restroom, trying to keep all of the equipment from touching anything. I was interrupted every few minutes with knocks on the door from people in need of their own relief. It was, in a word, gross.
40 million people travel through Union Station every year. It is Amtrak's second busiest station in the country. It is considered the gateway to Washington, D.C. And yet it does not have a single clean place where a woman can pump or nurse her child in private. That is unacceptable.
Sign my petition now to demand that Union Station provide at least one lactation room or Mamava pod on every floor. No woman should be forced to sit on a toilet while she produces milk to feed her child.