I'm sure by now you've heard about Delta's recent breastfeeding debacle in which a breastfeeding mother asked via Twitter about the airline's policy. She was informed she must cover or feed a bottle. I knew right away no such policy exists and that it was just an under-educated customer service rep misspeaking.
And it may come as a surprise, but I’m probably the only breastfeeding mother that wasn’t outraged by the whole thing. Why? Because I know my rights, and I know better than to ask a question to someone who doesn’t know anything about the topic. It’s like asking the person who does the admission paperwork at the hospital about the pros and cons of Pitocin; they may have their opinions but probably don’t know the real answer. (Yes, Delta employees should know their airline policies and the customer service agent should have checked before sharing an opinion. BUT I’m sure breastfeeding is not something that gets asked about very often and is only relevant to a very small proportion of their passengers. I’m also sure that employee has since been informed of the proper answer!)
I’ve flown with my breastfeeding babies on more flights than I can count on all my fingers and toes (plus all of theirs!), and I have never had a problem with breastfeeding. I have flown Delta, other large American airlines, large European airlines, and small European airlines (and a ton of other places) and I never even thought to ask if breastfeeding was permissible. Why? Because I know it’s legal and that no company in their right business mind will have a policy preventing a woman from breastfeeding. As many companies have learned, all that gets you is a bunch of angry moms who show up at your establishment, boobs ready!
I just do what I need to do for my baby, because as one of my friends pointed out on Facebook, “Don't people understand, if you prevent a mom from breast feeding, a very upset loud baby is what you get!” Trust me, I’ve had my share of loud, upset babies on flights I’ve taken (see “Baby Screaming on the Plane”) but never because I couldn’t breastfeed. Sure, I usually TRY to use a cover (and honestly that’s for my own comfort while squeezed between a toddler car seat and a laptop wielding man in a business suit), but usually Sugarplum wouldn’t have it and Doodle is not much more agreeable to being covered, so there has been plenty of boob flying round. (Haha, FLYING around!)
I don’t ask where or when I can feed my baby, whether on an airplane or on the ground. I just do it if it needs to be done and am ready with my response should the need ever arise. (Which, luckily, it never has.) My response is: “I have a right to breastfeed my baby here. If you don’t think so, please call the police and while you do that, I will call the local news. I’m sure your company will love the publicity this all gets.” Ok, so maybe I’m not that nervy. But maybe if it ever comes to the rights of my child, I will be, should I ever need to be.
I honestly don’t think breastfeeding in public needs to be a statement making event. When I nurse in public without a cover, I don’t do it to say, “Screw you establishment, look at me being bold!” I do it because it’s easiest for me and gets my child what he needs. I notice the stares and looks and I can’t say they don’t bother me. (See "Learning about Lactation" and "Normalizing Nursing".) But it doesn’t change the way I feed. It doesn’t make me cover up or retreat to a corner or turn my back to the world or grab a bottle. Truly, it makes me sad that it’s seen as wrong, gross, inappropriate, obscene, or disturbing.
All I want to do is feed my baby, gosh darn it! What is the problem with that?
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