The Mom’s Beat: Nursing moms shouldn’t have to feed babies in dirty bathroom stalls

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The Mom’s Beat: Nursing moms shouldn’t have to feed babies in dirty bathroom stalls The Mom’s Beat: Nursing moms shouldn’t have to feed babies in dirty bathroom stalls

In theory, traveling with a nursing infant should be easier than making the trip with a bottle-fed one. There’s no mess, no need for warming devices and no bottles to lug around. The babies are also more likely to be calmer, which benefits all travelers.

But as one local mother found out, it’s not always that easy or logical.

Joy Jones-Carmack of Egg Harbor Township recently took a domestic flight to Kentucky with her 6-month-old son Cadden and husband Keith.

The mother had planned ahead and pumped breast milk into two bottles and stored them in a freezer pack so she wouldn’t have to nurse in public. But when weather conditions kept the airplane grounded on the tarmac for two hours, she had to nurse as well.

“I just covered myself with a blanket and nursed in my seat. I was lucky because my husband Keith was with me. It would have been very difficult being with the baby on the delayed flight alone.”

She said she noticed that if they had been required to wait in the terminal, she would have had a hard time finding a place other than a restroom to nurse her son, and even while in the more private airplane seat, she felt uncomfortable.

“There are no facilities for nursing, so I would have had to take the baby into the restroom or cover myself and nurse at the gate. I find facilities difficult to find in most locations. There are rarely facilities for nursing, and I have had to take Cadden in a bathroom stall more than once. There are also not facilities for pumping. While on the plane, there are obviously no facilities other than the small restroom, so I chose to cover myself and stay in my seat. This was awkward because I felt like I was being watched by some passengers.”

When did folks become so squeamish about the most natural way to feed a baby? Most mothers I know are modest and bring a wrap to place over themselves and their hungry baby, but still, people stare as if it were inappropriate to be feeding your infant this way, and it’s not right.

There are other matters to consider when taking a nursing baby on an airplane. Any bottled breast milk must be checked for safety, of course.

“Because I was travelling with pre-pumped bottles, I had to be screened by security. This added time to the security and boarding process,” Jones-Carmack said. “The TSA had to open each bottle and check with a strip for chemicals. This was the worst part of traveling with a nursing baby. I did not like having the pre-packed bottles opened and checked by security, and I feared they might be contaminated. However, it is a requirement.”

Jones-Carmack said she recommends nursing moms allow extra time for security and finding a spot to nurse.

“It takes extra time to get through security, especially if you bring pre-pumped bottles of milk. If you can bring pre-pumped bottles this can help nourish the baby until you are able to find a place to nurse. If you are not pumping or if you do not want TSA to open the bottles and are concerned with cleanliness, I recommend bringing a nursing blanket or cover and nursing in your seat on the plane or while waiting to board at the gate,” she said.

“I wish more nursing mothers would embrace the naturalness of nursing and feel comfortable nursing while waiting to board and on the plane. It is a shame that even though there is well-researched evidence on the importance of nursing, it is so difficult to nurse a baby, especially while traveling.

 “It is a shame we have to have these conversations. It should be acceptable to nurse a baby anywhere, and it should be easy to find a comfortable location to nurse.”

 Agreed. Would you like to eat underneath of a blanket or in an airport bathroom, especially if you have a still developing immune system?

 If we are comfortable with the sight of adults shoving greasy burgers down their throats at the terminal restaurants, we should certainly feel at ease next to babies getting replenished in the most natural way out in the open as well.

 Upcoming breastfeeding event: Bellysimo, a 3D ultrasound imaging facility located at 3069 English Creek Ave. in Egg Harbor Township, will take part in the worldwide event “The Global Big Latch On” 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2. Local participants will join mothers from around the world as they attempt to break the record of moms nursing at the same time during World Breastfeeding Week Aug. 1-7.  It will feature support for breastfeeding moms, refreshments, door prizes and more. For information call 609-910-2105.

by Laura Stetser by Laura Stetser

Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Get more parenting news by connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter @TheMomsBeat. You can contact her directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Read more of The Mom’s Beat HERE.

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