Breastfeeding on the airplane

Dear Heather,

Is it okay to breastfeed on the airplane–specifically take-off and landing. Do the flight attendants allow it? Do you need to cover up?

Maggie R.

Dear Maggie,

Of course it’s okay to breastfeed on the airplane! And if you are going to do it, take off and landing is the best time to do it. A constant swallowing motion will help ease those little ears in a pressurized cabin when a pacifier just won’t cut it.

While flight attendants do allow breastfeeding, there are always a few bad apples in the bunch who may throw a hissy fit if you are showing too much skin – or any skin at all. Therefore I suggest you cover up with a blanket you’ve brought from home. Don’t depend on the airline to provide you a blanket, since most airlines do not carry blankets anymore and some even charge for blankets. Not to mention the filth and bacteria that probably live on those synthetic blankets. Or just use whatever you want to keep those prying eyes off your chest. Trust me, you are not imagining those glares, and even worse, those who stare.

“A man can not not look at a breast. If I see a breast I have to look at it. It could be an eighty year-old woman, but if there’s a nipple involved I’m looking. I’m sorry, I can’t help it, a breast is a breast,” said a man who prefers to remain anonymous.

Unfortunately (or would that be fortunately?) not everyone feels the same as the man above, especially when the breast in question belongs to a woman caring for a child. Sure it’s socially acceptable to come onboard scantily dressed (and whine about the airlines not having blankets) and flaunt it down the aisle, but to use that same breast to feed a hungry baby is still a tad bit controversial for some reason. STILL.

Your question, Maggie, reminds me of an incident I experienced aboard a flight from New York to Los Angeles just a few months ago…


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