No breastfeeding mom enjoys pumping, but one woman had a particularly horrific experience on a recent flight with her family.
I have yet to meet a breastfeeding mom who actually enjoys pumping. It's messy, tedious, and makes you feel like a cow at the milking machine. But as unpleasant as pumping at home or work can be, I'm pretty sure having to express milk in a tiny, smelly airplane bathroom while a flight attendant fusses at you belongs in a special circle of hell.
Such was the experience new mom Mariana Hannaman had when she, husband Brandon and their 4-month-old daughter were flying home to Phoenix on American Airlines. It was the sixth flight the family had been on—they were traveling overseas—and so far the trip was going smoothly. Somewhere above 30,000 feet, the breastfeeding mom felt the swell of milk, so she tucked into the bathroom, pump in hand, to express in private.
It wasn't long before Hannaman heard a knock at the door from a flight attendant. She explained that she was pumping and figured that was the end of it. Instead, the flight attendant returned, this time ordering the busy mom to open the door. Pump still attached to her breast, Hannaman did as she was told. Rather than showing the new mom a little patience or affording her some privacy and dignity, the crew member kicked her out, saying she couldn't pump in the bathroom. (American Airlines begs to differ, saying that their policy allows moms to express anywhere in their facilities.)
Incensed, Hannaman had the wherewithal to capture what happened next on her iPad. In a video that has since gone viral, we hear the flight attendant refuse to offer her name, scold the mama for not giving crew members a heads up that she was going to pump in the loo, and, adding insult to injury, even makes fun of Hannaman's accent.
No word on whether the flight attendant still has a job, but "‹American Airlines told WGNTV that (thankfully) it's using the viral video to teach its employees how not to treat nursing moms. For their part, the Hannamans say they posted the video "to obtain an apology in writing from the Captain of the plane and the flight attendant who clearly harassed her." Here's hoping it comes their way very soon.
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Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.