A woman on a United Airlines flight was asked to cover up while breastfeeding.
Somehow it is 2016 and despite the fact that it is legal for women to breastfeed, uncovered if they want, women are still being harassed and shamed for feeding their babies in public. That happened to one mother who was quietly nursing her baby on an airplane this week, and she was so upset about the experience that she posted about it to Instagram with the hashtag #MomsDontFlyUnited.
We, the passengers, are putting our lives into your hands when we fly with you. How can you then bend and twist the rules according to what suits you? You have a moral responsibility to us @United #MomsDontFlyUnited #breastfeedingmoms #normalizebreastfeeding #love #momlife #unitedairlines #southwestairlines @southwestair
According to Yahoo Parenting, new mom Juliet Thomson was flying on a United flight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles with her four-month-old daughter. The baby was a quiet flier and was happily nursing during the flight, but the fact that someone was breastfeeding on an airplane bothered another female passenger enough that she complained to the crew.
Thomson says she’d just finished nursing and the baby was sleeping on her chest. When a parent gets their four-month-old baby to sleep on an airplane, they won’t want to move at all and risk losing that precious, precarious bit of quiet. Besides, no skin was actually visible below her collarbone, so she assumed everything was fine. But then she says she heard a woman complain to a male flight attendant and say, “Turn around and look at this girl. You need to go tell her to put some clothes on.”
A female flight attendant reportedly came and asked Thomson to cover up, but she refused and said that the only reason her baby was so quiet was because she was being nursed comfortably.
Breastfeeding is legal and not a big deal, so it would have been completely possible for the flight to continue quietly with the baby sleeping on her mother’s chest, but the original passenger reportedly saw that her wish was not being granted and decided to flip her lid in the middle of the airplane instead of doing something rational like reading a book or enjoying the in-flight entertainment.
“The woman started shouting, ‘I made it clear that someone needs to tell the girl to cover up! It’s disgusting that you would let something like this go on,’” Thomson said.
There are a whole lot of things in life more disruptive than a four-month-old baby nursing. For example, watching a woman rant at a breastfeeding mother in the middle of an airplane would be a lot more awkward and embarrassing for me as an airplane passenger. A baby fussing or crying because it was on an airplane and its ears hurt or it was bored would also be a lot more disruptive than a baby sleeping quietly with a nipple in its mouth.
It seems like mothers really can’t win sometimes. If you breastfeed, someone will get offended by that. If you pump, you’ll probably either be told not to pump in your seat where people can see you and not to pump in the bathroom because people want to use the bathroom. If you formula feed, someone will probably come yell at you for that, too. At this point, mothers and babies are going to have to ride in the cargo hold to avoid getting screamed at by random strangers.
Thomson was embarrassed by the scene the woman was making and put on a blanket, but she was very upset by the situation, and she’s right to be. Breastfeeding women are legally allowed to nurse without a cover if they want to, and the cabin crew should have known that. The only person causing a disruption was the shouting passenger, who should have just sat down and read a magazine and not looked if the sight of a breastfeeding mother offended her so much.