Emily Calandrelli, star of popular Netflix kid's show Emily's Wonder Lab, is sharing the details about an upsetting experience as a breastfeeding mom at LAX. Calandrelli, a mother of a toddler and a 10-week-old baby, says she was left "humiliated" by two male TSA agents when they told her she wasn't allowed to bring ice packs onto her plane to keep her breastmilk cool.
She took to social media to share her account of what happened—and many other breastfeeding moms shared their support.
"Here’s what happened," she begins. "Today was my 1st trip away from my 10wk old son, who I’m currently breastfeeding. I’m going through security at LAX. I brought my pump and 2 ice packs - only 1 of which was cold (I won’t need the other until I come home, when I’ll have more milk)."
She said she didn't currently have milk on-hand, but was preparing to pump shortly before boarding her 5-hour flight. She said it was then that two male TSA agents told her she wasn't allowed to bring her ice packs on board because they weren't frozen solid. She was told that because she didn't have milk on-hand, she wasn't allowed to bring them through.
She tried to explain that she was preparing to pump. She was told that if her baby was with her, there wouldn't be an issue. (Because moms can't travel without their babies? Make it make sense.)
"I asked multiple times to speak to a female agent and they wouldn’t allow it," she said. She says she was escorted out of the TSA line and was forced to check her ice packs.
"I cried in the airport," she writes. "I was embarrassed about having to explain breastfeeding to 3 grown men. I felt humiliated and emotional and so I deleted the post."
Calandrelli had initially posted about the experience and deleted it, but after reflecting upon the injustice itself—and checking TSA rules herself—she decided to re-post her story. Because, unfortunately, it's too common among new moms who are traveling.
"TSA rules specifically state that you are allowed to have gel ice packs (regardless if they are fully frozen!!) for medically necessary purposes," she says. "And emptying my breasts on a regular schedule and providing food for my child IS medically necessary (and especially important with the current formula shortage!)"
She's correct about that. The TSA website specifically states: "Note that medically necessary gel ice packs in reasonable quantities are allowed regardless of their physical state of matter (e.g., melted or slushy). Please notify the TSA officer at the checkpoint for inspection."
Calandrelli says she was flooded with messages from fellow moms in her DMs, who also shared their experiences.
"It is infuriatingly common to encounter TSA agents who don’t know the proper protocol around pumping and feeding babies—and it shouldn’t be this way."
Calandrelli is encouraging all breastfeeding mamas out there who have endured similar experiences to share them with her on social meda.
"Because I’m furious and I won’t let them make me feel embarrassed for their lack of understanding and training and neither should you. #HandsOffOurMilk."