How on earth are we to encourage women to breastfeed if they learn they may be asked to leave a flight for nourishing their child?
In this article I learned that a 27-year-old woman was asked to 'cover up' with a blanket when breastfeeding her child the other day, and that when she refused, she was told to get off the plane. Extraordinary. Personally I've very little patience with the emphasis on 'discretion' when breastfeeding; many infants just don't seem to understand society's problem with breastfeeding and get exceedingly cross when placed under a blanket. They kick, they refuse to latch on, they screech. Many of us who've tried it gave up after about two minutes. It just makes the process - which is, after all, one that all pediatricians encourage for the health of the nation's children - more difficult. (And incidentally, as all nursing mothers know, it's particularly crucial to nurse on the ascent and descent of a flight, to encourage infants to suck and so keep their airways clear.)
There are obviously legal issues that will now have to play out, but as an interested (and exasperated) bystander, I have to say: what is the problem with breasts in this country? Why are they so offensive? Why is it okay to have them served up delectably in teeny tiny bras for visual consumpion during every commercial break on TV, but not okay to have them serving their biological purpose and feeding a small, hungry kid?
I'm flying over Christmas and New Year, and if I'm asked to "cover up," I won't. No way; no matter what the consequences. It's time for us as a culture to have a conversation about breastfeeding, to re-examine our views about the purpose and meaning of a woman's breast.