Women Working at Prisons Are Forced to Smuggle in Breast Pumps


Women working at Virginia’s Deerfield Correctional Center risked their jobs just to smuggle breast pumps past security, according to reporting by The New York Times. Managers at the prison did not allow the pumps in since they weren’t transparent, per the prison’s security rules.

Breastfeeding is notoriously difficult in the United States. With no paid family leave, pumping at work is a common reality and although the Affordable Care Act expanded the rights for hourly workers to have access to a lactation room, in practice, many people are forced to go to great lengths just for the basic right to pump somewhere private and clean.

The other options that the prison’s management offered to pumping mothers included a men’s restroom and “a cinder block vestibule known as the overflow shakedown room.” Many women ended up pumping in their cars, with one new mother plugging her electric pump into the lighter charger.

Eventually, Susan Van Son, a nurse at the correctional center got so fed up that she pulled off a days-long operation just to get her breast pump into the building:

A breast pump sat on the passenger seat of her gray Honda Accord. Ms. Van Son unscrewed the pump’s handle and shoved it into her bra.
Retracing her steps, she strolled back into the prison, past a disinterested guard, and hid the contraband on a shelf in the pharmacy. Over the next two nights, she sneaked in every piece of the pump, save for one. Ms. Van Son’s breasts weren’t big enough to conceal the funnel, so she enlisted a better-endowed colleague to shuttle it in for her.

Another woman snuck in a pump past security so she could pump secretly in private offices. Just one woman’s opinion, but maybe people shouldn’t be forced to resort to heist-level measures and risk their jobs just to pump safely at work.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin