If you’ve ever used a breast pump, you’ll know the familiar, repetitive sound of it doing its job. I must admit, there are times when the constant drone has almost put me into a milk trance.

So you can kind of feel for the university student who ended up reporting a fellow student who was using a breast pump during an exam.

“I had a college test yesterday and shortly after starting I kept hearing a continuous sound right behind me, like a repeated tapping about every three seconds,” the student revealed on reddit. “At first I just attempted to ignore it and figured someone was tapping heavily on their computer’s keyboard over and over out of anxiety, but it was very noticeable in the otherwise quiet environment.”

The sound continued for another 10 minutes, and the student noticed others in the exam room started to be disturbed the noise.

“One lady across the room made eye contact with me with a questioning look as if to say, ‘What in the hell is that?’ I shook my head to let her know I had no idea. The professor noticed the other student looking over at me, and the student pointed in my direction so I think the professor must have thought I had a question or was trying to get her attention, so I slightly raised my hand and she came right over.

“I quietly told her I wasn’t sure what this ‘tapping’ sound was but it seemed like people were becoming distracted by it. She asked, ‘Is it me making the sound at my desk?’ which confused me because this wasn’t a subtle noise and of course I knew it wasn’t her. So I said no, and motioned behind me to show her where I was talking about. She said, ‘I understand’ and went to the student behind me and I didn’t hear what was said, but the noise stopped after that. So whatever, I just moved on with my exam.”

It wasn’t until after the test was finished, that the student discovered the sound had been an electric breast pump. “Someone from my class told me I should apologise to that lady at once because she likely had suffered physical issues due to my actions and that her whole pumping schedule was probably messed up now, and said this woman likely hates me now because of the pain she must have endured due to me. I just responded that I had no idea of what was going on so I surely couldn’t be at fault for that.”

The student says they’re now not sure how they should have reacted to the situation.

“Should I have just not said anything? It is very hard for me to focus while listening to distracting sounds, especially in a pattern, and I may be more sensitive to this than others. I very much support people’s right to have accommodations to pump as needed but when it’s becoming a noisy distraction to the rest I can’t help but feel other arrangements would be reasonable? And was I wrong to say something to the professor even though I had no idea of what was happening?”

What do you think? Was the student right to report the noisy breast pump?

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  • I think she did the right thing. She didn’t accuse anyone, just said there was a noise. She has nothing to apologise for. The person using the breast pump should have sorted something else out or checked that it wasn’t going to bother anyone. I think if it had just been a regular class no one would have cared, but this was a Uni Exam and you need to be able to think clearly and have quiet around you.


  • I think there is not a time or place to do that.


  • The student did not know what the noise was and from reading the article it was disturbing a few people so probably would have been brought to the attention of the teacher sooner or later.
    I don’t think I would have had the confidence to pump in a room full of people…so I applaud their courage.


  • Yes.I think student was right. She has right to report as it is important exam.


  • In all honesty I think there is a time and a place for these things and surely the student could have managed to not be pumping during an exam which would have only taken 1-1.5 hours or similar. I went out on a few dates with hubby when my kids were babies and didn’t bring the pump with me. Just not necessary! Pump after the exam.


  • It shouldn’t have even been a problem. The student who was pumping should not have been. It was a rude thing to do, and very distracting to the rest of the students in the exam. She was absolutely right to report it.


  • I do think it was not okay to pump during exams. I’m surprised it was allowed, but perhaps in this PC world, no-one wanted to do anything about it for fear of backlash. However, it was distracting and disruptive to many doing their exams, so that is not fair.


  • You didnt know! Also, it wont have messed up her schedule by having one session of pumping interrupted – that is an ignorant person just trying to make you feel worse.
    the lady pumping should have asked beforehand, as the noise was obviously likely to be a distraction for everyone in the vicinity. You were distracted and impacted by the disruption, you didnt single the lady out or shame her. don’t feel bad.


  • I think it’s inappropriate to pump during a groups exam and clearly also distractive.. The lady who wanted to use the breast pump during exam time, should have asked permission to do so in a private room.


  • No, you weren’t wrong. You were not sure and the repetitive sound of that pump would have driven me nuts, especially when you are in a room sitting for an exam. When exams are on there should be quiet and obviously, there wasn’t and that is not considerate to you or your fellow students. So, you shouldn’t feel terrible at all, because you weren’t trying to get your fellow student into trouble, you just weren’t sure about the noise and were enquiring about what it was and where it was coming from. After all that, I hope you did well in your exam and got a great score.


  • That isn’t fair especially when your doing a exam it would put you off your exam and that’s not at all fair.


  • It’s tricky, we dont know the situation whether she had to right then and there and whether it was affecting her or causing discomfort. I think a little bit of understanding on all sides.


  • I would have got overwhelmed by the noise (I’m very sensitive to noise), so it’s understandable to react like that.


  • I find exams stressful enough without the extra added noise happening.
    It was obviously disturbing a lot of other people. Honestly I think the lady doing the pumping really shouldn’t have been doing it in an exam.
    Universities offer special considerations to those who need it. The woman could have said she will need to pump during the exam time and it can be noisy and quite distracting. The University probably would have allowed her to sit the exam in a classroom under supervision of a tutor.


  • That’s such a tricky one, but ultimately the students really deserve to be able to sit their exams without distractions.


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