Breastfeeding Mom's Ridiculous Airplane Bathroom Battle Could Have Been Avoided

airplane bathroomIf there's one place that most moms would never want to breastfeed or pump, it's the cramped, filthy quarters offered by an airplane bathroom. And yet, those were the exact accommodations offered by an attendant on a JetBlue flight to mother Molly Guy when she requested an unobtrusive place to pump.


During her six-hour flight, Guy made her way to the back of the plane to speak with the flight attendant when she realized she was going to need to pump. She was worried that pumping in her own seat would make the older couple sitting next to her uncomfortable, and she had noticed that there was an extra seat in the staging area used by the flight attendants toward the back of the cabin. Since that area was fairly sheltered and out-of-sight compared to her actual seat, she asked the attendant if it would be all right for her to sit there for a few minutes to express milk. But the attendant said no, telling her that the seats were reserved for the flight attendants in case of turbulence -- and instead of simply sending her back to her seat, he told her it would probably be "best" for her to go pump in the airplane bathroom instead.

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If Guy had just been sent back to her own spot, I would have had no problem with this story. She says there was a spare seat and no turbulence at the moment she made her request, but turbulence doesn't always give a large heads-up, and there might have been another flight attendant elsewhere in the cabin who would have needed to return and use that seat.

But the bathroom? The bathroom would be "best"? Come on. First of all, a resounding "ew". I try to avoid having to go into an airplane bathroom at all if I can avoid it, let alone for a prolonged period while trying to produce milk. Secondly, and much more importantly: why are stories like this still happening all the time?

Every few weeks, there's another story about a corporate employee who has somehow missed the message -- the many, many messages -- about women's breastfeeding rights under the law. Women have been harassed and shamed for breastfeeding in casino lobbies, restaurants, and even their pediatrician's office. There's a media firestorm, there are nurse-ins and 'boob mobs', the company apologizes and promises to do a better job of informing their employees ... and then sooner or later, the whole circus starts up again somewhere else.

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We shouldn't have to play out the same story over and over on the body of a different woman each time. There's no reason all of this continuous background noise of breastfeeding-shaming and the resulting fallout should be blowing directly in one ear and out the other for company HR directors and trainers. Because it shouldn't be the job of a new mom to educate the world about her rights. This is basic corporate education stuff -- Customer Service 101. And it's a story we're all tired of seeing. Can everyone please get with the program?

What do you think the flight attendant should have done?

Image via © yigit

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