Even For Famous Moms, Finding Basic Breastfeeding Accommodations Is Tough

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
Sophia Di Martino/Twitter

Hollywood loves tits. But Hollywood doesn’t love reminders that tits can have an actual biological function, i.e., feeding babies. That part — the babies and the milk and the leaking and the pumping and the nipples exposed for reasons other than an R-rating — that part’s got a grade-A ick-factor, according to the cis-het establishment. So Hollywood’s worked at a glacially slow pace to adopt any reasonable breastfeeding accommodations. In 2013, Adele told The Guardian that at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars, she was, “Running to the toilet, between awards, to pump-and-dump. Which loads of people were doing … all these Hollywood superstars, lined up and breastfeeding in the ladies’. No, I can’t say who. Because I saw their tits.”

In 2016, a Mashable attempt to find breastfeeding accommodations at the Oscars turned out nada, other than a multi-use nurses’ station, available only after a mom hunted down a staff member and requested somewhere to nurse or pump. Like we have time for that when our boobs are leaking and/or our child’s squalling like a demon while they announce the winner of Best Original Score.

So it’s a giant-ass deal that costume designer Christine Wada pulled a solid for new-mom actress Sophia Di Martino. Di Martino scored her role as the Loki variant Sylvie in Marvel’s “Loki” while she was pregnant, and didn’t come on set until she was four months postpartum… and breastfeeding.

Since she was still nursing and pumping, and that Loki costume would have been a bitch to peel off each time, Wada actually concealed zippers in its boobular area so Di Martino could easily access her equipment. It’s super ingenious, super cool, and shows how super easy it is to make space for nursing moms in Hollywood:

Hollywood Women Have a Hard Time with Breastfeeding Accommodations

Sophia Di Martino’s awesome costume designer shows how far Hollywood has come… and the fact that this is news shows how far we have to go. In 2015, Claire Foy was four months postpartum, nursing and pumping — and starting her first day of shooting on “The Crown”. She says, “I found myself halfway up a Scottish mountain with engorged boobs and no way of getting down to feed my baby. I had to ring my husband and tell him to give her formula … as I sat in a Land Rover trying to get my broken breast pump to work.”

It was so bad she actually told Graham Norton that, “I was an idiot – such a huge idiot! I was a lunatic trying to breastfeed and be The Queen.” Um, no, Claire. They were idiots for not giving you proper breastfeeding accommodations. Like Kourtney Kardashian says about nursing, “My attitude is, if someone sees a little somethin’ somethin’, don’t look if you don’t like it.”

Then There’s The Olympics!

On June 30th, the International Olympic Committee announced that yes, breastfeeding athletes could bring their babies along to the Tokyo Games. That’s news: two days beforehand, an International Olympic spokesperson had told Yahoo Sports that it was “highly unlikely [that] unaccredited people from overseas” would be allowed entry into Japan. With all the COVID-19 restrictions, the Games are on virtual lockdown. They left a vague loophole: “There may be special circumstances, particularly with regard to infant children, and we will therefore continue to consult with the IOC and the IPC and solicit opinions from other relevant parties.” Translation: there would be no breastfeeding accommodations at the Olympic Games. Pump if you must.

But athletes were preparing to choose between breastfeeding and competing. Aliphine Tuliamuk, an Olympic marathoner and new mom, has said she couldn’t imagine attending the games without her daughter Zoe:

She put in a request to take her daughter. The IOC originally denied it, pointing to COVID-19 countermeasures.

Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher had a baby in March, and had pled with the IOC to bring her child. She said in an Instagram video that people simply told her to pump “like mad.” But, she said, “I don’t have enough milk in me to train as a high-level athlete, get my butt back in shape, and feed her currently, all while stocking 28 days’ supply. We’ve looked into shipping milk, we’ve run into some complications.”

And that Hail Mary came through. The IOC backed down and announced that nursing infants would be allowed at the Games, which hello, should have been the policy all along. “We very much welcome the fact that so many mothers are able to continue to compete at the highest level, including at the Olympic Games,” said the IOC, despite singing a different tune a mere two days beforehand. “We are very pleased to hear that the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee has found a special solution regarding the entry to Japan for mothers who are breastfeeding and their young children.” Breastfeeding accommodations unlocked!

It seems the always press-conscious Olympics peeps got caught with their pants down when angry mamas realized athletes were being forced to choose between their sports and their children. As Gaucher says in her video, “Sponsors and media are all flying in from around the world. Japanese fans are going to be in attendance, the arenas are going to be half full, but I will not have access to my daughter?”

Scary Mommy high five to Kristin Gaucher for getting the job done.

The Fight’s Still On Everywhere

Clearly, though, we’ve still got a long damn way to go. As Tony-nominee “Hadestown” actress Amber Gray says, she pumps at every intermission. She has breastfeeding accommodations — and it shouldn’t be news. She “would love a moment when [this] photo does not go viral — when it’s not empowering to people, it’s just normal.”

We couldn’t agree more. Basic breastfeeding accommodations shouldn’t be news. But they are, and that shows exactly how far we have to go before nursing mamas – even the famous ones — have the space and respect they deserve.

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