I made a snarky post on Facebook yesterday about the latest headline that Delta Airlines told a woman through Twitter that she should bring pumped milk rather than breastfeed onboard a flight. I will say here what I said there: I have never covered up to breastfeed on an airplane. I have never had anyone – flight crew or passenger – say anything to me about it. I know these incidents happen, but they are isolated. The vast majority of your fellow passengers and flight crews are just grateful that you have a (nearly) foolproof way to keep baby happy and quiet.
So let’s talk about it a little bit so that you are prepared.
First of all, if you are just starting out with this breastfeeding thing (or haven’t started yet), know that it’s a learning curve. It gets much easier. The first couple days of breastfeeding, I literally had to just take my top off. I couldn’t even handle clothes. I couldn’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t need to pull my whole breast out from my shirt and make a big old scene. You will learn. It comes with practice. You might have to experiment a little with what combination of clothes works best for you, but you’ll get there.
So, for me, once I got the hang of manipulating clothes and getting baby latched on, I felt like I was so much more discreet when I just did it rather than trying to keep a large tent arranged just so. I never covered up when nursing in public anywhere, let alone on a plane – not because I was trying to be an activist, although I do think it’s good to normalize breastfeeding – but because I was actually able to be more discreet and more comfortable that way. In fact, as my friend Emily points out, it’s actually pretty easy to breastfeed discreetly on an airplane – everyone is facing forward, and anyone who can see you is probably trying to see what you are doing.
Legally, you have the right to breastfeed in public. Any passenger or flight crew who tells you otherwise is misinformed. You may feel like these confrontations happen all the time because they make headlines. But think of the thousands of breastfeeding women who are flying every single day, and incidents like this one only happen once a year or so.
The biggest piece of advice I have is to do what makes you comfortable. If you are super comfortable with your Hooter Hider, use it! If you like to bring pumped milk, do it! If you feel better when you just rearrange your clothes a little, you can do that too!
Here’s a gallery I had put together of some of the exciting and awesome places I breastfed my babies. In public. Without a cover up. I hope it encourages and empowers you.