Thursday, May 29, 2008

Poop Before You Pump

Any runner and most athletes have at one time or another experienced a case of “the craps.” Not to be confused with cramps, "the craps" are the sudden and urgent need to bee-line to the nearest bathroom to drop a deuce in the toilet rather then the workout attire. There is no way to prepare for a case of the craps; even going to the bathroom prior to working out is no preventative guarantee. During a recent colorectal emergency running on the treadmill at work, I was shocked and physically pained to find the normally empty potties in the locker room unavailable. After risking injury and embarrassment by jumping off the still moving treadmill, I was nearly homicidal seeing the stalls occupied by people not leaving the anytime soon; women pumping breast milk.

Before jumping on me for being completely insensitive to the needs of women who choose this very healthy eating option for their infant child please hear me out. The State of Minnesota, where I currently reside, is considered the most progressive in lactation-friendly legislation and policies. Minnesota requires employers to accommodate breastfeeding mothers by providing them with adequate breaks as well as private and sanitary rooms to express milk. By law these lactation rooms, frequently known as Mother’s Rooms, cannot be within a bathroom. Yet these two women, who had a clean, quiet and toilet free Mother’s room at their disposal, chose to sit on the commode to pump when the Mother’s room is across the hall from the gym. The choice to bypass the Mother’s Room to use a bathroom stall is almost a slap in the face for the mother’s groups all over the world who often declare that we do not eat in bathrooms so we shouldn’t expect breastfeeding to happen in bathrooms.

The women pumping in the two stalls in the women’s locker room undoubtedly chose them because they are most often empty. The issue is when someone in the gym gets moving and things get moving they REALLY need to get moving to the toilet, pronto. Workplaces in Minnesota must provide Mother’s Rooms, so I think it is reasonable to expect that breastfeeding women can be so kind to use their designated room. Fellow employees cannot use the Mother’s rooms for meetings, office space, push-ups or pooping; breastfeeding only. Common courtesy would apply the same logic to toilet usage; pottying only please (especially in the gym!).

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