As parents, we have to stand up for ourselves and our kids. As mothers discriminated against for breastfeeding our babies, we have to make noise; we have to protect our rights, the rights of our children. There are too many people in positions of "power" telling women what to do or they are doing it wrong or they are doing something obscene when we are not. Breastfeeding in public is one example of this.
Another mom was told to cover up, that there were complaints about her breastfeeding her child on a flight. Casey Yu was on Delta flight 2655 with her baby Will en route home from Yu's aunt Karen's funeral. It was late -- 10 p.m. -- and there was no one in the seat next to her. The man in the row across the aisle was kind and "enamored" with her baby Will who was happily clapping when other passengers boarded. Everything was as pleasant as it could be until Yu began breastfeeding her baby.
First a female flight attendant tried giving her a blanket to cover up. Yu said "no thank you," to which the attendant responded that there were complaints. The only passenger close enough to really see what was going on was the man in the aisle next to her, who responded, "Feeding your child like this is the most natural thing in the world. You are doing fine." So she knew it wasn't him complaining.
Next, another attendant approached saying, "I’m sorry, I’m gonna have to get you to cover up." Yu maintains that she had her nursing bra unlatched, shirt pulled up but still over most of her breast, or as she put it:
I did not take my shirt off and offer everyone a sip at the milk bar, I lifted my shirt, latched the baby on (whose head is bigger than my breast, thank you very much), and cradled him against my stomach and across my lap.
I love her spirit, her words. There was nothing to see since baby Will was nursing. Yu refused to cover up, telling the attendant that it's her right to feed her child. And good for her. We need more women like Yu standing up not only for herself and her baby, but for nursing mothers everywhere. Many of us are covering up in fear of being told we are doing something obscene. We are made to feel shameful of our bodies, of our abilities, of our children's right to eat. This is wrong.
When women speak up for themselves, we are questioned. We are made to feel we are the ones doing something wrong. Just like the woman who was forced to have a c-section against her wishes -- her doctor told her that if she didn't, it was child abuse and he would have the baby taken away from her. She's suing. We have to be our own advocates. We have to speak up. And when we are wronged, we have to make noise about it. Otherwise we will continue to be repressed.
Yu took to Twitter with the hashtag #feedwill and people are on her side, making sure that those who were clueless at Delta, and around the world, know that breastfeeding your baby is a natural thing and moms should never be made to feel otherwise. The captain of the flight apologized, another flight attendant did, too, as well as an Executive Assistant at Delta. They said they would make sure the attendants in the wrong for telling Yu to cover up were re-trained. It's a start. But clearly more needs to be done because this keeps happening. We need to speak up when we are wronged, when our rights and our children's rights are being ignored. We need to get the media involved if necessary in order to spread the word, raise awareness, get others to help spread the word so people realize that breastfeeding is simply a child eating -- nothing more, nothing to gawk at, nothing to consider obscene. Help spread that word.
What do you think of this story? Have you also experienced discrimination when breastfeeding? What do you think it will take for people to stop discriminating?
Image via Ozgur Poyrazoglu/Flickr