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This week on a domestic Delta Airlines connection flight, operated by Pinnacle Airlines, a woman says she was “publicly humiliated” by the flight attendant when she was breastfeeding her eight-month-old child. (Check out the article here) The woman says that the she was seated next to her husband, and that the only other person who could see she was breastfeeding was the flight attendant. The flight attendant reportedly asked the nursing mom to either cover-up or stop feeding the baby. The mom refused the blanket that was offered as a cover-up, saying that it was already 85 degrees on the plane and that it was too hot to use the cover. Which I totally believe in the summer on those small planes – the AC stinks until you get up in the air flying!
The mom then quoted Indiana state law saying that she had the right to breastfeed in any place that she was legally allowed to be. Unfortunately, the flight attendant reportedly continued to give her a “hard time” about breastfeeding without a cover and said that the mom could “get into trouble for giving the flight attendant a hard time”.
Naturally, this story was a topic on some travel forums today. I have to admit that I am a bit dumbfounded by the reality that breastfeeding on a plane is indeed somewhat controversial. When a friend was preparing to fly for the first time with her two month old baby, I remember her telling me that she was going to make sure and carry a card with her that quoted the state law saying she could breastfeed (just as this mother on the Delta flight did). My friend also said she was going to make sure that her seat-mate knew she would be breastfeeding, in case they would like an opportunity to switch to another seat. She also planned to utilized a cover and be very discrete about nursing. When she was telling me this (especially the part about carrying the state law), I remember thinking she was very smart to think it through this well, but that there was no way that anyone would give her a hard time for just feeding her baby.
Boy was I wrong! While most people seem to be okay with the idea of public breastfeeding if a cover is utilized, remove the cover and the controversy really heats up! 🙂
I breastfed my daughter for several months after she was born. I stopped nursing in the late spring when she was about 5 months old. I never nursed in the hot summer months. I remember during my last few weeks of nursing, that having the cover was really starting to become uncomfortable on warm days if we weren’t in good air conditioning. I can’t imagine how hot it would be nursing in the real summer heat with a cover. Forget my own comfort, imagine the baby who is skin to skin next to the mom, in the heat, with a blanket covering its whole body. Yikes. So, while I personally was a fan of using a cover while nursing, I can completely understand that there are a variety of situations where that isn’t practical or comfortable. Here is Little C when she was a one week old breastfed little monster.
Babies travel. Babies need to eat. Breastfeeding, if possible, is best for babies. Thus, many traveling babies will need to breastfeed. Heck, breastfeeding while traveling is logistically way easier than having to travel with bottles, formula, items to clean the bottles with, etc…. Also, if a baby is breastfeeding, they aren’t crying! That is a huge plus for the parents, the baby, and the fellow passengers. I would much prefer sitting next to a breastfeeding baby (cover or no cover) than a crying baby!
I feel bad for traveling moms that feel they need to hide the fact that their baby is nursing for fear that a flight attendant will “get them in trouble for giving him/her a hard time”. In case you haven’t tried it, nursing isn’t always easy. At times, it can be painful, draining, demanding, and exhausting. It certainly wasn’t the highlight of my life! However, it was the best thing to do for my baby, and I am thankful that I was able to do that for her. Whether I am on an airplane, in a park, or in my living room, the last thing that I would have needed during that time is someone giving me grief for doing what is best for my child.
What do you all think about nursing and traveling? Is it fair to other passengers who may be offended? Should the mother be required to cover-up or feed in the airplane lavatory? Should the other passengers and flight attendants just suck it up and mind their own business? I’d love to hear your take on this! Who knew it could be so controversial!
All this talk of young babies made me pull out one more photo of when Little C was three months old……….and still breastfeeding. 😉