fbpx

Normalizing breastfeeding flying the friendly skies- Delta says no

by Jessica Martin-Weber

*UPDATE as of 2.05pm 02.21.14  at the end of this post.*

I speak often about normalizing breastfeeding and what that would mean.  Sometimes this seems like a ridiculous topic, like normalizing breathing, eating, walking, or human decency.  Or like normalizing mammalian behaviors.  It just seems so… obvious.  Why in the world would you have to normalize something so… normal?

But the reality is that in many ways, though it is touted, preached, and at times elevated, in many ways breastfeeding isn’t normal.  Like it or not, I see a very real need for our culture to embrace breastfeeding as normal.  The reasons are many and I won’t go into them here right now but if breastfeeding was normal I know this twitter exchange would not have happened.

 

Delta airlines doesn't want moms to feed their babies without a cover.

Delta airlines doesn’t want moms to feed their babies without a cover.

Um, yikes.  Also, that pumping suggestion?  Completely unrealistic.  If she has to feed her baby every two hours, she’s going to have to empty her breast every two hours.  Which means she would need to pump 3 times on that flight AND give a bottle.  Wouldn’t it just be easier and less distracting if she wasn’t trying to juggle a bottle, a pump, and a baby in her handful of square inches on the plane?  Wouldn’t it be much less intrusive for everyone if she simply put her baby on her breast?

This is why breastfeeding needs to be normalized, as silly as that may sound.  It is also why discrimination against mothers, regardless of how they feed their children, needs to stop.  This isn’t even the first time that Delta has run into issues violating laws protecting breastfeeding, way back in 2006 the airline kicked a mother that refused to cover to feed her daughter off her flight.  She sued and they paid.  But apparently, they haven’t learned.  The Georgia based airline seems to be unaware of the law protecting breastfeeding not only in their home state, but the majority of the country as well:

Georgia Code – Health – Title 31, Section 31-1-9

The breast-feeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which should be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health. A mother may breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.

I’ve only flown Delta once with my nursling and thankfully had no issues but I was anxious the whole time knowing the airline’s irresponsible, anti-family past.  Since then, I intentionally only fly airlines that are clearly supportive of breastfeeding such as Southwest Airlines and not only have I had no problems, I’ve been encouraged with friendly smiles, extra water and snacks, and supportive conversations.

What has been your experience with breastfeeding and flying?  What airlines have you traveled with that were supportive of you feeding your baby as you saw fit?

*Edited to add*

I have seen numerous comments on Facebook and twitter asking why the mother asked, that she shouldn’t have asked. While I agree that she shouldn’t HAVE to ask, certainly we can all understand why she did.

This mother did nothing wrong by asking for clarification on the airline’s breastfeeding policy.  Going in prepared when traveling with an infant is perfectly reasonable and unfortunately, with the number of breastfeeding discrimination incidents in this country, a mother would have good reason to be concerned.  Please stop acting like she was wrong to ask. Our culture CLEARLY has issues when it comes to breastfeeding, she did nothing wrong in trying to be prepared. Asking was well within her right and understandable given the number of times mothers are harassed for feeding their babies. This very airline has even gone so far as to kick a woman OFF one of their flights for feeding her child. Stop with the victim blaming please. 

I understand asking, unfortunately there have been enough bad experiences to make moms want to be prepared. This same airline was sued a few years ago for kicking a breastfeeding mom off a flight for not covering.

*UPDATE* The @Delta account on Twitter responded to the storm of tweets questioning the breastfeeding policy @DeltaAssist told @Classichippie.

Delta's other verified account responds

Delta’s other verified account responds

So I asked what they were going to do about it.  They replied:

Don't worry, they apologized.

Don’t worry, they apologized.

An apology is great and an important first step.  But there’s nothing to ensure such discrimination won’t happen again.

That's nice but not good enough.

That’s nice but not good enough.

One anonymous current employee shared that they receive absolutely no training about how to handle to treat breastfeeding mothers or of the airline’s breastfeeding policy.  This employee has experienced that such lack of training can result in an employee making a misstep such as @DeltaAssist apparently did and then be terminated as a result.  This hardly seems professional or fair.  The employees and the customers deserve better treatment.  I hope the social media representative keeps their job and is instrumental in helping the company implement a successful training program for all Delta employees in support of ending breastfeeding discrimination.

But perhaps the issue really isn’t about breastfeeding discrimination at all and rather a low view of woman as being little more than sex objects?  Thanks to @KellyKautz for this capture demonstrating that the airline is more than willing to encourage women to flaunt their breasts as long as they aren’t covered by a feed baby.

Screen capture by @KellyKautz of two tweets regarding women's breast by Delta social media representatives less than an hour apart.

Screen capture by @KellyKautz of two tweets regarding women’s breast by Delta social media representatives less than an hour apart.

 

 *UPDATE 2.05pm PST on 02.21.14

@ClassicHippie tweeted that she has not seen an apology from the airline.

Delta breastfeeding policy twitter fake apology

 

 

Delta breastfeeding policy twitter apology

What do you think?  What can Delta now do to communicate a clear family friendly policy that supports breastfeeding and trains their employees (including their social media representatives) accordingly?

Peek Away Giveaway

Peek Away was developed out of necessity during a time of hardship for co -inventor, Natalie Sanders. She was inspired to create Peek Away’s 4-In-1 Nursing Kit, when she was nursing her second son and had to endure frequent long road trips.

She and her husband, Glen, recently lost their business and were on the verge of losing their house. Determined to find stability they chose to move closer to family. Natalie took a job as an occupational therapist specializing in the NICU and pediatric department at a county hospital. Nearby lived her grandmother, where she and her family stayed during the week. Every weekend they’d commute three hours north to upkeep their house until it could sell. Their son was just 3 months old, and their other son 3 years old. Commuting in a hatchback car & living with family did not provide much space. Carrying a large diaper bag, nursing pillow, in addition to luggage was virtually impossible. Stopping on the road to nurse in parking lots, restaurants or pumping in the car became a way of life. It was tiresome and very hard to get comfortable. Natalie and Glen searched for a travel nursing pillow, but there wasn’t one on the market yet, so they created their own together!  

Now TLB sponsors, they are offering our community 3 of their creations for this stylish and practical giveaway. 

TLB:  What should TLB readers know about Peek Away?

Natalie:  Peek Away isn’t just another nursing pillow on the market. It is very unique and original. Careful consideration was given when creating this pillow. I was able to utilize my professional knowledge of ergonomics and my experience working with infants and lactation consultants to carefully design a pillow to help moms feel comfortable breastfeeding anywhere. It provides proper positioning, giving ample support and comfort when nursing in cramped spaces or at home. It does not take up much room and it has all the essentials, including storage compartments and a diaper change pad with a built-in wipe case, forgoing the need to lug a diaper bag and pillow.  By nature, I’m modest and I wasn’t comfortable nursing or pumping in the car without a cover; therefore I included a separate matching nursing cover to come with the product for moms to use if they choose.

TLB:  Tell us about the inspiration behind the Peek Away and how you started your business.

Natalie:  The inspiration behind Peek Away came from the product itself. It is something very unique and serves a great purpose in promoting breastfeeding. Fortunately the patent office felt this product was unique too and issued us a utility patent in 2010 for our nursing pillow. This was a boost of optimism. That’s when we decided to test market Peek Away locally and had an overwhelming response.

TLB:  How do you balance family life and running your own company?

Natalie: Balancing family life and work has been challenging. We have had to work extremely hard to rebuild what was lost. I work outside the home at my private occupational therapy pediatric practice. Glen stays home to take care of the kids and devotes much of his time to Peek Away. I continue to contribute as much time as I can to Peek Away too, but finding a balance of running two businesses and raising a family is hard. We count our blessings that we have two wonderful happy, healthy, loving children. And like any parent, we wish we had more quality time spent with them!

TLB:  What would you suggest a mom nervous about breastfeeding in public do to get comfortable when the time comes?

Natalie: Breastfeeding should be done however one feels most comfortable, but it does take some practice before getting use to it. Some moms like using a cover, pillow, blanket, or just being bare. Babies feed off of mom’s energy and it’s important she’s relaxed. When mom’s stressed the baby knows and can panic too. This makes latching and overall feeding more difficult.  Anxiety can also affect a mom’s milk supply and the ability to have a let-down. If you plan to nurse in public and are at all anxious about it, the best thing to do is practice at home or even sitting in your yard. I practiced nursing my baby in front of a mirror, because I was worried about gracefully being able to cover up!

TLB:  What is your favorite tip for moms on the go with babies and small kids in tow?

Natalie:  My favorite tip for moms on the go with kids is just to travel light! Bring only the essentials. Eliminate the need for heavy bags that weigh down your shoulders and fatigue your arms which makes it more difficult to do what we love best : holding on to our kids!

 

Glen & Natalie are giving away a gift to 3 lucky Leakies.  The gift is their Newly Released Peek Away Travel 4-In-1 Essentials Nursing Kit – A nursing pillow discreetly carried as a handbag with storage compartments, a diaper change pad, and built-in wipe case. Included is a matching nursing cover.   Retail Value: $46.98

 

______________________________

Currently, Leakies can find their latest updated nursing pillows, in all their stylish patterns, on their website at www.peekaway.com

______________________________

Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from December 11, 2012 through December 18, 2012 .  A big thanks to Natalie and Peek Away for their ongoing support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to visit their Facebook page  or follow them on twitter  and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

This giveaway is restricted to Canadian and  U.S. residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway