a baby in public can be a nerve-racking affair. It's hard not to be
concerned with what everyone else might be thinking as your baby thrashes
against the nursing cover or you struggle to achieve a good latch. You wonder
what you would say if you were confronted. You wonder what you would do if you
were asked to leave.
Possibly one of the most difficult places to nurse "discreetly"
is on an airplane. There is precious little personal space to be had in the
economy cabin to start with, but add in the fact that you are squeezing two
beings into one teeny tiny seat, and nursing without the person two inches
away noticing is nearly impossible. We've heard no shortage of horror stories
from nursing moms who had run-ins with other travelers, airport
security, and airline staff.
I personally have nursed my 21-month-old uncovered on many
flights since her birth. I am always a bit apprehensive, worrying that I might
be subject of the next breastfeeding headline. I worry that the passenger
crammed in next to me will be one of those "breastmilk is a disgusting bodily
fluid" types. I worry that the flight crew might ask me to cover up out of
consideration for my fellow passengers. I worry, because it happens. It happens
to moms who speak out and get the media's attention, and it happens to mothers
who stay quiet and no one ever knows. I know that I am not immune this sort of
discrimination, and it could happen to me. But here has been my experience:
I want to share this with you because you have enough to worry about if you're traveling with children. Nursing should not be one of them.
I have never been harassed over breastfeeding. I have never
been asked to cover up or leave any place because I was nursing my daughter. I
have never even been shot a "look" from a disapproving bystander or flight
attendant. Not even on our most recent flight home
from vacation, when we were surrounded by a high school rugby team and accompanying
chaperones. In fact, my little lady wouldn't stop crying, and the young man
next to us did nothing but crack a joke about her "impressive lung capacity,"
and share some stories about his younger siblings. I have been the recipient of
warm smiles and compliments, but I have never received discrimination for
nursing my baby (now toddler) uncovered in public.
I want to share this with
you because you have enough to worry about if you're traveling with children.
Nursing should not be one of them. Yes, we've all seen those headlines, and I
believe we have the media to thank for blowing the whistle on airlines for
treating nursing mothers with anything less than respect. But things are
changing. What should you expect? You have every reason to expect that you will
not be treated badly for nursing on an airplane or anywhere else. If your baby
and you don't like to cover up, then don't cover up. Will you be treated badly
for it? Very unlikely. Unlikely enough that it should not change the way you do
things, and you certainly shouldn't feel apprehensive about it.