Flight Attendant's Attack on Breastfeeding Moms Really Grosses Us Out

Rant 179

breast milkYou know what really grosses me out? Flight attendants that hate moms. Sara Keagle, a flight attendant and blogger for The Huffington Post, wrote about "10 Gross Things Flight Attendants Have Seen on Airplanes." I was expecting the snot, the peeing in seats, the bowel movements smeared in places it doesn't belong, but I wasn't expecting breastfeeding moms to get the brunt of her jab making an appearance in not one, but two points on her list.

Keagle essentially attacks breastfeeding moms who pump and finds breast milk to be as gross as a bloody pair of underwear. Sadly, we all know the majority of us thinks a mother breastfeeding in public is an act that should be covered up, but apparently the only thing more deplorable than a mom nursing in public is a mom who doesn't have her baby with her. Some moms have to pump. Moms have to store breast milk. Gross acts, according to Keagle, who I would assume doesn't have children.

She seems to have no problem warming up formula with her manicured nails. Based on this article, she believes artificial and fake is more acceptable than natural. Sadly, she's not alone. There is far too much ridicule, which leads to discrimination, against mothers and children.

More from The Stir: Breastfeeding Mom Asked to 'Cover Up' in the Most Unbelievable Location

I was a breastfeeding mom. I've nursed my twins on airplanes, in parks, whenever and wherever they were hungry. I also was a full-time working breastfeeding mom who carted my breast pump to work every day to express milk every three hours in a room my employer supplied for me. If I were a traveling breastfeeding mom, I would have had to pump in my travels. Skipping a pumping not only makes a mother very uncomfortable as her breasts fill with milk, it can also hurt supply if she starts messing with baby's feeding schedule or needs.

It's terribly sad that we live in a society who gets disgusted when a mom has to nurse her child. It's terribly hurtful when a female flight attendant publicly discloses that she finds a pumping mom gross. We don't want to be whipping out our breasts, attaching them to a machine, and pumping milk into bottles in order to feed our babies, but sometimes we have to. It's not gross. What does this say about society? They hate breastfeeding mothers when baby is at breast, but hate the breastfeeding working mom even more. Keagle writes:

A lady decided that it was appropriate to use a breast pump during boarding. She fully exposed both breasts and with just a bottle (not with a baby) did the vacuum effect on her fully exposed boob. Let me remind you this was both breasts out in the air, on a full flight, during boarding, taxi, take-off, and part of cruise.

"Not with a baby" -- not sure why this is so offensive to her. Perhaps she isn't aware that mothers aren't always attached to their children? That we actually have lives, leave the house without our sucklings, and aren't just barefoot at home fully exposing our breasts within the confines of our own four walls so no one can see. (Gasp! A breast! Two breasts!) Just like when it's time for baby to eat, baby must eat -- when it's time to pump, a mom must pump. Breastfeeding moms know how challenging it can be to nurse a baby with a cover. Imagine how difficult it would be to hand express breast milk while under a blanket. Why couldn't Keagle just look away if she found it gross?

Keagle continues with her attack on breast milk drippage:

A few passengers notified me of something leaking from the overhead bins down onto their heads. The look on the men's faces was priceless when a woman stood up and said, "OMG....My breast milk! It's not frozen anymore and it's leaking what should I do?!"

Sure, no one wants breast milk leaking on them, but no mom wants her hard-earned pumped breast milk leaking on strangers. The way Keagle writes this, she embarrasses the mother, making her seem like a dolt. For the record, breast milk is probably the most natural, vitamin-filled liquid that has ever leaked on anyone. Keagle should want to bathe in it. It would do wonders for her skin, which I'm sure is dry from all the time in the air.

When you become a mother, it's a beautiful time in your life. You have this precious newborn filling your heart with a kind of love you didn't know you had. Breastfeeding becomes this amazing experience even if you struggle with it. You are giving your child the best possible nutrients. It's a bond that you cannot describe. When you become a mother, you also become the subject of jokes, disdain, discrimination. This sets us back, as women, as people. It hurts breastfeeding rates, which in turn hurts babies.

When you become a mom, it becomes your "job" to deal with poop, fingernail clipping, peeing on seats, seeing people eat things off their feet. Similar to the what flight attendants have to deal with. Or the TSA who have grossly displayed their anti-breastfeeding mother behavior as well. But Keagle wears gloves and is emotionally unattached. I get that it's different, but perhaps instead of thinking a mother doing what mothers must do is gross, she could empathize, you know, something kind human beings do. Her job is one of service, and a breastfeeding mother doesn't deserve to be on her gross list or attacked like that. Maybe Keagle is just in the wrong profession.

Are you also offended by what Keagle had to say about breastfeeding mothers?


Image via Daquella manera/Flickr

breastfeeding, in the news, natural parenting


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Angie... AngieHayes

Well....I dislike the way most people look, but unfortunatly I have to share the planet with them.

nonmember avatar Tara

I plan to exclusively breastfeed my son, but I do not plan on whipping out a boob wherever I am, nor would I appreciate if I saw someone else do it. Blame culture if you will, but breats are not just feeding machines anymore, they're sexual. I have no desire to see some woman's boobs, no matter the reason. Atleast cover yourself.

nonmember avatar Elisha

Guess what - the two instances she describes ARE gross.

"...according to Keagle, who I would assume doesn't have children." Oh, GOD FORBID a woman doesn't have children! She's a terrible human if she hasn't had babies yet!" I guess if she were a mommy she'd have no problem with a stranger's bodily fluids dripping on her.

dirti... dirtiekittie

i'm not offended, and honestly i think you're blowing her comments out of proportion. honestly, i agree with her about the pumping - not that it shouldn't be done, mind you. we know it has to happen. but as she describes it, with her breasts completely out, no covering and just pumping away? i would be uncomfortable with that too. when you are ACTIVELY breastfeeding, the baby usually covers you, and at least clamps on the nipple. with a pump... well you can see more without the baby's head blocking the view - that's what she meant by "without the baby". and as for the leaking breastmilk - well i don't care how wonderful and healthy it is for babies, i still wouldn't want a random stranger's breastmilk to leak on me. i feel badly for the lady, but then again i never stowed my breastmilk in the overhead compartment either. 

honestly i feel like you're just attacking the breastfeeding angle because it seems so easy to say "omg, she hates bf'ing mothers!" rather than to acknowledge that the stuff she mentions actually is a little bit gross to someone not involved with that mother/child.

kelti... kelticmom

I can understand her point of view on the woman who was pumping, with both breasts fully exposed. That's a little different than one boob discreetly out with your baby latched on. She should have had at least the tact to wear a nursing cover, better yet do it on a layover in the bathroom. I am all for nursing as long as you see fit, wherever you see fit, but try to at least have some decorum. Cover it up. You don't need your shirt pulled up to your chin with your entire boob exposed to feed your child. I sure didn't. Whether you like it or agree with it or not, in this country, exposed breasts make most people uncomfortable. And you are asking for trouble when you just whip them out because it's "your right". I totally get the frustration of the women who DO nurse discreetly and still get harassed, but I am so sick to death of these "nurse ins" and the boob hats for babies, the taking pictures of yourself at Target with your boobs out, etc. That does not help the situation, it just makes all nursing mothers look like bra burning exhibitionists. I somehow managed to breastfeed my child for six months, and my sister breast fed all five of her kids without ever making spectacles of ourselves. And thousands of moms do as well. These kinds of stories just throw kerosene on the "mommy wars". Enough already. The CDC report from last year revealed that over 75% of babies born in the US in 2012 were breastfed, so I'd hardly say it's an issue.

Ksmomy Ksmomy

I'm so sick of the holier than thou attitude about breast feeding. You do what you do out of concern and love for your child and it's your right! It's also others peoples right to find it gross or disgusting. No one should feel the need to tell others what or how to feel. I personally didn't Breast feed and hate seeing it. So I just don't look!

nonmember avatar blue

She isn't saying pumping and breast milk is gross. She is saying those specific situations are gross. I've seen plenty of pumps and been around plenty of women pumping. Not once, did any women need to have both breasts fully exposed. That situation IS inappropriate and gross. Breast milk leaking on someone's head IS gross. I support breastfeeding anytime, anywhere. That does not mean there aren't breastfeeding mothers who act gross!! You are totally twisting this to your agenda. Those situations were gross, period. I'm mother, as well. I can fully see that you just want to make this into something it is not.

lulou lulou

Pumping while on business trips is miserable.  Flights are never on time, so while you may have the schedule set up to pump while on a layover, that never happens.

amiec... amiecanflie

I don't know why the pumping mother didn't use a nursing cover(I think we can all agree that looking at a woman's pumping boobs are still kind of weird) and I'm all for breastfeeding, but that doesn't mean I want a strangers breast milk to leak on me!! 

nonmember avatar Kay

I find your article almost as problematic as her comments. You write, "who I would assume doesn't have children," as though being a mom is the only thing of worth for a woman or that having a child is the only way to understand raising one or the issue that come up along the way. I am so sick of mommy martyr complex, and the "offense" displayed anytime someone doesn't appreciate or even want motherhood. It doesn't make her a bad person that she doesn't have kids, it makes her an unfortunate person because she is uncomfortable about parts of her own body.

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