You may have heard by now about the ruckus over Delta’s fear of boobs. Let me explain. It started when a breast feeding mom sent a tweet to Delta asking about their policy regarding women breast feeding in-flight.
I am a breast feeding mom, but before I go on, let me tell you what this post is not: This is not an ‘anti-formula’ post, it is not an ‘I’m-better-than-you-because-I-breast-feed’ post. That’s not what me or this blog is about, so haters and trolls, keep it movin’. I respect any mom’s decision to feed her kid any way she wishes. Simply put, for me, it’s breast feeding. But let’s get back to breast feeding on plane.
Before having Penelope, before it was me doing the breast feeding, decisions like this just seemed so easy. I wasn’t yet in the thick of it, dealing with logistics. I’d probably say, “What’s the big deal? Nobody cares if you nurse, so just wear a cover.” But then your little one gets here, and she is her own person with her own agenda. On Penelope’s agenda, in between eating and playing, is her hatred for nursing with a cover. She just won’t do it. I for one don’t like eating my dinner with a cloak draped over my head either, so I can understand her apprehension.
So, what would happen if that were me on a 6 hour flight? Let’s start with the facts:
- Penelope needs to eat every 3 hours
- Penelope will not nurse with a cover
- Penelope will take a bottle
Great. Sounds easy enough, right? Just pump some breast milk ahead of time, and give her the bottle when it’s time to eat. The Delta rep who tweeted back at her has it all figured out! No big deal. But wait! A few more logistics to worry about. Let’s consider the following:
Even if I pump ahead of time, there are some roadblocks. For instance, my boobs won’t get the memo that my baby is going to be fed from a bottle for two consecutive feedings, so they’ll continue to make milk. This is very uncomfortable for owner of said boobs. It is a silly little fact I learned once I started breast feeding and, as much as I tried to talk to my boobs and explain this concept, unfortunately I discovered that there is no reasoning with them, nor did they come equipped with an “on/off” switch. They will continue to go from B cup to D cup when it’s time for my daughter to eat whether I like it or not. It’s simple laws of physics: the milk’s gotta go somewhere. Sooo, if I listened to the Delta rep and fed Penelope with bottles, I’d have to deal with this issue. My options here are:
a) figure out a way to pump while simultaneously feeding my baby a bottle, but I don’t have that many hands, and there are no outlets on a plane for me to plug the pump into. (I guess I could ask the person in the seat next to me to manually pump the boob closest to him as I bottle-feed my daughter, but that could get awkward.)
b) I could sit there uncomfortably for the entire flight and play sudoku until my boobs burst and explode milk onto the people seated in the row in front of me.
You can see how this can present a problem for a breast feeding mom who is, simply put, just trying to feed her baby. Not to mention that the mom would need to bring a cooler to keep the bottles fresh. Wonder if they’d count it as a carry on and charge a fee?
The same way you need to eat lunch today is the same way a baby needs milk. And, with a baby, you can’t simply feed her something else. My daughter’s lunch menu is “right” or “left”. A breast feeding woman has the ability to feed her child anywhere – anywhere! – and at anytime, without having to order, pay, prepare, or utilize a bottle. That’s pretty effing amazing. And she usually puts her body through a lot to be able to breast feed (as I’ve learned.) Isn’t making her ashamed the very last thing we should be doing?
I’m not saying us breast feeding moms should scream and yell and run around, boobs blazin’ when it’s feeding time. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t have to worry about where it’s safe to feed our kid, and we certainly shouldn’t have to think we need to ask an airline if it’s OK to do so.
If it were me boarding the flight, I probably wouldn’t have even asked permission (and I’m wondering why this mom did, when she clearly knew her rights?). I would have just discreetly breast fed when it was time, because the possibility of offending two people seated next to me beats creating a media shit-storm over the topic. But maybe the silver lining is that people will see more clearly about the issue. I almost can’t even believe that it’s 2014 and this is even a heated topic at all. No, I don’t want to see random men whipping out their wankies whenever they feel like it, but breast feeding is not an equal comparison, so put away your wankies and stop crying.
It’s wonderful that formula exists, but remember that the option for formula is a blip on the radar in the history of humans. This means that the only reason any of us – including those who are offended by a breast feeding woman – exist right now is because breast milk ensured our survival. Why are we acting like it’s an unnatural act?
I have many formula-feeding friends who are not offended in the least when I or another woman breast feeds. It’s a mutual understanding that we are all just feeding our babies. Could you imagine we asked the moms who use formula to feed their babies in a separate area because the nipple on the top of the bottle offends us? Have you thought about why it’s shaped like a nipple in the first place? It’s because (wait for it)… IT’S MEANT TO MIMIC A HUMAN NIPPLE.
I am currently having a bit of a hard time comfortably breast feeding in a public place, but I applaud any mom who can do it. None of the women I know who do are whipping off there shirts announcing to the world that they will now expose their breasts to feed their babies; they are simply getting shit done. I don’t think we need to be so in-your-face about it, shouting from the rooftops and ringing a dinner bell when we’re about to breast feed because that attitude, in my opinion, always invites hostility from the other side in any situation. I think the best plan of action for breast feeding moms is to just go about their business, nonchalantly breast feeding until it becomes so normal and accepted that no one even bats an eye. There’s no reason to be ashamed or create any chaos; after all, you are just feeding your baby.
So, Delta, don’t be afraid. They’re just boobies. Maybe in light of this debacle, the next time you see a breast feeding mom aboard one of your flights, you can help the situation by not reacting at all because it’s EFFING NORMAL. If a bashful mom approaches you asking if she can breast feed, maybe you can reverse your stance and do what you can to make her more comfortable instead of less. Or, at the very least, toss her some beads.