Mamava Mama: Kari Coe
Kari Coe is a customer service agent for a major airline at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. She’s also a breastfeeding mom who needs to pump multiple times during her 10-hour shifts. Which is challenging enough when you have a regular routine—but, for Kari, every day is different. Some days she’s at the ticket counter helping travelers check bags; others she’s driving the jet bridge to meet planes on the tarmac. What is consistent: working all around the airport. “I carry my pump with me,” says Kari. “Mamava pods have made it possible to do the job I love.” (Sea-Tac has six Mamava pods.)
Here, Kari shares her tips to help other breastfeeding moms juggle pumping with working.
Ask for help when you need it.
Kari’s job is fast-paced, so she worried she might get pushback about taking breaks to pump. But her workplace has been incredibly supportive. Kari’s coworkers will cover the counter if it’s been more than three hours since her last pumping session. Once, when Kari had a clogged duct, her supervisor made sure Kari had time to pump six times that day.
Present pumping in a positive light.
“My choice to pump and work hasn’t kept me from growing in my job,” says Kari. “It’s just the opposite, because all the planning and packing it takes to pump shows a person who’s dedicated to her work, her family, and her new role as a mom.” What’s more, she credits her job with helping ease her postpartum guilt about leaving her daughters at home. And Kari isn’t shy about showing how pumped she is to be able to breastfeed as a working mom, often announcing to a line of customers “I’m going to pump!” when she slips away on a break. Which normalizes the behavior and perhaps makes it easier for other working mothers to do the same.
Share the love with other traveling moms.
“Sometimes I want to throw in the towel,” Kari admits. “But then I get home and hold my baby who is growing because of the milk I pump—and that’s so cool!” Knowing first hand how hard it is to be a pumping mom, Kari has become an advocate and support for breastfeeding moms traveling through Sea-Tac, making a point to direct them to Mamava pods. “Breastfeeding and pumping aren’t talked about enough,” she says. “I like to help moms find a comfortable place to pump, especially in an airport where you’re already feeling frazzled.”