Wednesday, November 15, 2006

houston, we have a problem

Baby-to-be and I are taking our first trip in the Spring to visit my parents in California. Since baby-to-be will be only 2 and a half to 3 months old around that time, we'll likely be breastfeeding on that fairly long flight.

Today on MC's blog, I read this story about a woman being kicked off of a flight for breastfeeding and not covering herself up with a blanket.

Guess which airline we are flying on for our first trip?

The story states that the woman was sitting in the next to last row of the airplane when she was asked to cover up her breastfeeding. Baby and I will be sitting in the second row of first class (thanks to Josh's miles saved up from consulting). We figured that first class would give me the extra room to feel more comfortable juggling a nursing infant and the two dogs that I'll be taking as my carry-on. Umm, but now I'm wondering if a seat that far up front is just going to cause more problems for us.

Needless to say, I'm concerned. How can an airline do this? What do they propose I do with my infant if I can't breastfeed? What if I haven't gotten the hang of breastfeeding under a blanket? What if baby just won't breastfeed under a blanket? What if I can't pump? Why should I even have to worry about pumping if I don't feel like it? I'm planning on buying one of these, but I'm still horrified by this whole scenario.

I can't switch airlines because the tickets are bought and paid for and the trip has been arranged and rearranged. I am panicked, however.


Zuska said...

don't panic. i read that story, and i feel strongly that something else was going on that made them kick that woman off the flight. i traveled with young babies (both my girls had their first flights at 3 months) and nursed them both on the flight and it was FINE. Just fine.

I really think something else was going on, and the news article was written to get the most reaction ... as usual.

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Fuck 'em. Breastfeed as discreetly as you can. Have Josh sit between you and the other passengers if possible.

If they offer you one of those stinky airline blankets and tell you you have to cover up, tell them they can shove their germy blanket up their ass. "And oh, by the way, DID I MENTION I'M A LAWYER???"

mc said...

Ha, I love APL's comment. I bet this incident will cause such bad publicity that they will be showering you with love for doing such a good job of providing for your baby. Or at least not kick you off the plane.

Also, as a member of the media, I've gotta respond to zuska's comment; I seriously doubt the story was written specifically to get a reaction. In fact, it states that the airline's spokesperson confirmed that the woman was asked to leave the flight after she declined the blanket.

JF, scientist said...

The solution is clear: you should wait until they're taking off to start breastfeeding! What are they going to do, stop the plane?

But yes, what idiots; I'm with APL: submitting to discriminatory practices just perpetuates them, and anyone who doesn't like your breastfeeding can take it and stuff it.

halloweenlover said...

Josh isn't coming with me!!! That is what worries me!

I'll have to remember the lawyer part. And maybe they'll back off?

I'm also wondering if perhaps a 3 month old wouldn't elicit a different reaction than a 22 month old, as wrong as that might be.

jo(e) said...

You definitely should breastfeed while the flight is taking off and the flight is landing. The baby needs to be sucking so that his/her ears won't hurt. Just like adults chew gum to help relieve the pressure in their ears.

I have breastfed babies on planes -- and I've seen many women breastfeed on planes -- and it's hard to imagine the scenario in that story. Something else must have been going on.

By the time that baby is two months old, you will be very experienced at breastfeeding -- newborn babies eat very often. My guess is that by then you will feel completely comfortable feeding the baby on the plane. And it's hard to imagine how passengers around you would choose a screaming hungry baby over a peacefully nursing one.

Besides, once the plane has started down the runway, how can they kick you off?

OneTiredEma said...

Know your rights. Breastfeeding in public is legally protected in many states. The statutes can be found on-line.

But don't worry--Delta is going to get so much flak from this they should be worshipping at your feet in a few months. If not, screw them and then sue.

And with a little one, there is really nothing they can do--what will they do, offer a ham & cheese sandwich to an infant? (Btw, pacifiers can't help much for ear pain because there is no swallowing component.) I totally agree with jo(e); a quiet nursing baby on a flight is definitely preferable to the alternative. When Miss M was 11 months I nursed her on a trans-Atlantic flight (12 hrs) every.two.hours! But there was very little fussing :-)

And I do think that nursing a toddler is more likely to have a negative reaction.

Not so little sister said...

I agree with the rest. This is going to cause such an uproar that there is no way in H-E-L-L that you will have a problem. Don't stress! Hopefully there will be some nice people in first class that will help you juggle. I always try to be helpful when I see a woman traveling alone with babies. On my flight home this weekend there was woman with a 22 month old and a 3 month old. She was brave.

And at the very least, APL has your back. Actually, we all do. :)

chris said...

Don't worry. I have taken my nursing babies on planes and nursed them with no problems at all. I even flew with my daughter when she was 14 mos old and still nursing and no one said anything or even seemed to notice and I was packed in the coach seats on the aisle.

No changing diapers poses more of a problem because they have no designated place on planes to do this.

You will be fine.

Mrs. S said...

Don't panic.

If you are having anxiety attacks about this, call the airline and ask them for more specific details including "what the hell do you expect me to do?" type instructions. Then, let us know all about it 'cause I don't know about everyone else but I'M curious. :D

liz said...

You'll be fine.

liz said...

I've always wanted the opportunity to say, "I'll cover my baby's head while he's eating when you're willing to eat with a blanket over your head."


Phantom Scribbler said...

My guess is that no one will think twice about you nursing a three-month-old infant. There are definitely still different standards in place for nursing toddlers, which is what this situation involved. Try not to stress too much, OK? Save that for the day you decide to fly to see your parents with a squirmy, cranky toddler!

Not so little sister said...

Hopefully this will make you feel a little better.

amygeekgrl said...

i totally agree - don't panic. nobody is going to give you grief about nursing a 3 month old on a flight and if they do - you can tell them right where to go (after you tell them you are a lawyer). :)
seriously though, there are laws that protect breastfeeding women and children. and yes, definitely nurse on takeoff and landing to help w/ the baby's ear pressure.
i always say better to have a happy nursing baby than an upset, screaming non-nursing one. ;)
you will be fine. :)

adwina - said...

No need to panic, dear.

It's absolutely your rights to breastfeed your baby in public. Only very few people who don't feel comfortable seeing a mom breastfeeding her baby. But that's their problem, not yours. Just keep nursing!

I hope everything is going to be okay with you and your baby.

Maribeth said...

That's right. Put on your lawyer pants and let en have it if they give you a hard time.
Here is a story from me.
When I brought Shubi (my dog. I know don't hate me for the analogy) home from Germany 14 hour trip accross the pond, I bent forward and gave this little baby pup a small scrap of bread. The flight attendent went ballistic. She threatened me. I was so upset, I went back and wanted her employee number so I could REPORT her. She immediately backed down.
When I brought my next dog home from Germany I had the nicest flight attendents and they actually brought Greta food. Luck of the draw!

ccw said...

I'm with APL. Mention you're a lawyer and I'm sure they'll shut up.

Seriously, don't fret. By the time the baby is that old you will be able to do handstands and breastfeed.

Bethiclaus said...

Oh Hell to the no. At first I was going to suggest the Bebe au Lait, but now I'm just irritated. You can breastfeed on a plane. And with all the negative publicity this story is going to bring to the airline, I'm doubting they're going to do anything to stop you. And while it's nice that other bloggers are being supportive, not everyone can breastfeed easily at 3 months. You need to do whatever makes you and baby comfortable for your flight. If that means flying shirtless, then the flight attendants will just have to deal.

Kristin said...

The most amazing part of that story for me is that it was the FLIGHT ATTENDANT who was offended and got the woman thrown off the plane. Isn't the flight attendant supposed to be ensuring the passengers are comfortable, not the other way around?

chatty cricket said...

Ok, worry not. Although Bethiclaus has a good point that you may not be breastfeeding on auto-pilot (har, like the pun), I strongly believe that you will have some form of feeding the baby down pat by 2 1/2 to 3 months. So feeding that baby during takeoff and landing and during the flight if he or she is hungry probably won't be that much of a problem.

With that being said, I can't even believe this! I have to go and read the article, but WTF?? My instinct says that it's better you're in first class, because (sadly) they will probably treat you better up there and will give you less of a hassle, but if it makes you feel better, call the airline and ask for a clearly defined policy on breastfeeding (so at least you're prepared). And I agree, play the lawyer card. And also, I think the bebe au lait is adorable. But that's beside the point....

Kai said...

Delurking to say you are one BRAVE woman to fly with a 3 month old and 2 dogs by yourself! Wow!

Genevieve said...

According to the second article, the airline was Freedom Airlines, which was running a commuter flight for Delta. Hopefully on a flight to CA, you'd be on much larger planes (and therefore not run into this flight attendant or the like).

Jennifer said...

I have traveled a lot with my son and breastfed (without a blanket!! scandalous, I KNOW!) and no one has ever said a thing.

Also, the woman who was kicked off was breastfeeding a much older baby than yours will be. Generally, I have found that people are much more understanding of nursing newborns than they are of babies who nurse past one year, at least in the United States.

You will be fine. Everyone on board will love you and your baby and do everything they can to help. Really. They will. You are adorable. And your baby will be even more so.

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