Menu

Breastfeeding at the airport? Here's 7 things you need to know.

1. You have a right to feed your baby.

Breastfeeding at the airport? Here's 7 things you need to know.

Air travel can be a stressful enough experience, but for new moms, questions around how to feed your baby while traveling can add even more difficulty to the experience. While many airports still seem to expect moms to nurse in a restroom (not exactly our cup of tea), others have begun accommodating moms through lactation pods or dedicated nursing spaces.


As a new mom myself, this is an issue I just recently experienced flying with my infant son. When I tried to locate a clean, quiet space to feed my son, I was encouraged to head to the "breastfeeding" bench inside of a bathroom stall. Not cool.

FEATURED VIDEO

The good news? With more awareness, some entrepreneurship ingenuity and overall new mama political action, breastfeeding in airports is slowly becoming easier.

Turbulance, well we still can't help you with that.

Here’s what you need to know about breastfeeding or pumping at the airport:

  1. You have a right to feed your baby. Legislation (and common sense—baby needs to eat!) protects you. You can read about state specific breastfeeding laws here.
  2. Too many airports still lack basic breastfeeding spaces: It turns out the airport we were at is far from alone. Although breastfeeding rates continue to rise and the number of moms who start out breastfeeding is up almost 5 percent from 2007 to 2011 (the most current data available), according to a 2014 study from Breastfeeding Medicine, only 8 percent of airports actually meet the minimum requirements for a qualified lactation room (which include an outlet for a pump and a private room not in a bathroom). Sixty-two percent, however, claim they’re breastfeeding friendly, and a striking quarter of airports, including the one my family was at this year, thought that a family bathroom satisfied the requirements for a space for nursing moms to pump or breastfeed. It doesn't.
  3. You might need to get super creative about where to feed your baby. Try an empty, quiet corner of a gate, or even (if you've got super breastfeeding skills) while wearing your child in a baby carrier. Some moms are totally cool with breastfeeding without a cover, (and we're totally supportive of that!) but other moms (and their babies) would ideally opt for a little more privacy. This is a time when you've got to get creative—and fearless.
  4. Airports are slowly starting to change, in part with the help from two Vermont moms. Sascha Mayer and Christine Dodson founded Mamava, a company that creates freestanding rooms that give traveling moms a place breastfeed or pump in private. The first Mamava suite popped up in 2013 at Burlington International Airport in Vermont, and others have been popping up across the country (including at sports stadiums).

    "We were working moms who had to travel with our breast pumps and the only place to use them in airports and convention centers was the bathroom. Making food in a bathroom was not OK for obvious reasons, so we decided to use our design thinking background to solve the problem for ourselves and other moms," Mayer explained in an email to Motherly. We're with you Mamava!

  5. Legislators are also taking notice of the difficulties nursing moms have while traveling. United States Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, a new mom herself, wrote in a Chicago Sun-Times Mothers’ Day op-ed, “I never imagined that airports would present one of my biggest obstacles as a new mother.”

    As a result of her own struggles traveling while also being a breastfeeding mama, Rep. Duckworth introduced a bill this past spring that would require airports to “provide accessible, safe, clean and convenient lactation rooms for travelers.” The bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act would require all medium and large airports to comply with the law within two years, and would enable them to use funds through the Airport Improvement Program to finance compliance.And, just last month, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation requiring large airports in his state to provide space specifically for nursing and pumping. California has a similar law, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown last year.

  6. There’s an app for that! Mamava has an iPhone app to help traveling moms find Mamava’s pods as well as other breastfeeding and pumping locations. And there’s Moms Pump Here, an app created by two moms to help other moms find places to nurse while they’re on the go.

    There are plenty of online resources too. Momaboard, a travel site for families started by Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan, hosts a running list of airports with nursing areas as well as maps on where to find them. Another site with tips and resources for traveling families, TravelingMom.com, created a packing list for mamas who are breastfeeding and pumping on the go.

    The Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention also has tips for nursing moms, and TSA does provide exceptions to some of the security regulations around traveling with liquids if you’ve got formula, breast milk and juice.



  7. Finally, there are ways to take action to help make traveling easier for yourself and your fellow moms. If you’re political, you can call your U.S. Representative and ask that he or she gets on board with Rep. Duckworth’s bill.

    Mamava’s Mayer also suggests advocating for services directly from the airports or businesses: “Ask for lactation rooms at service desks, or email customer service at the airports you travel through. Most airports want happy customers and Mamava provides an easy fix, but moms must be assertive about their needs.”

Photo: Christine Dodson (left) Sascha Mayer (right) and baby friend Ben. Photo credit Matt Thorsen.

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

Keep reading Show less
News
Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

FEATURED VIDEO

"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

Keep reading Show less
News