I made the mistake this weekend of reading an article by a flight attendant about ten gross things she’d witnessed on an airplane. I clicked over to the article because it had come up on my google news feed under the topic of “breastfeeding”. Wondering what she had to say about breastfeeding I read:
9. Breast Milk Drippage
A few passengers notified me of something leaking from the overhead bins down onto their heads. The look on the men’s faces was priceless when a woman stood up and said, “OMG….My breast milk! It’s not frozen anymore and it’s leaking what should I do?!”
Can we stop already with thinking of breast milk as gross? I would hope that people realize that without breast milk none of us, including, Ms. unprofessional flight attendant, would be here. How exactly does she think that babies are fed? Or is it that women are not to leave the house as breastfeeding mothers lest we somehow expose people to breast milk. I would also hope that people know that when they ingest cow’s milk that they are drinking a fluid that was recently inside an animal that likely spends most of its day standing around in her own feces. If any milk is gross, it’s not breast milk, that’s for sure. But why did the author include this example as one her “grossest things they have seen” – because it is breast milk. I don’t think it would have made her list had someone’s soda bottle or baby’s bottle of formula dripped down upon the other passengers.
I am a working, traveling breastfeeding mother and have pumped on and carried milk onto multiple domestic and international flights. I feel such empathy with that poor mother. When I have come home from a trip, cooler full of breast milk, I thought of that breast milk as the most valuable thing I was carrying. You know when you get the safety lecture about how if you must evacuate the airplane due to an emergency you should leave all your belongings behind? When listening to that lecture I always thought, “I’ll leave everything but the milk – that is coming with me!” Instead of bashing the mother who was only trying to do the best for her child, perhaps the flight attendant could have acted professionally and helped her – offering to store her milk in the galley refrigerator or providing her with ice to help keep it cold.
I am not asking anyone to drink breast milk or touch breast milk or even like the idea idea that breasts exist to make milk. But the idea that breast milk is “gross” is just ridiculous and needs to just stop.