Saturday, January 28, 2012
The Story of a Traveling Nursing Mother - Can You Relate?
Until I became a nursing mother, I never had true appreciation for all nursing mothers go through! And for those of you who may not know, let me define what a nursing mother could be; A woman who exclusively breast feeds, a woman who exclusively nurses when with baby and pumps when away, a woman who pumps exclusively to provide milk for their baby, or a woman who uses a combination of nursing/pumping plus formula. Whatever way you look at it, it's hard work! Your body is a milk producing factory. You have to keep yourself hydrated to not only produce milk, but to replenish your own body with the extra liquid that's leaving your body. You have to watch what you eat as to not upset baby's tummy, or watch what medications you take so as not to pass them to your child (I recently went through Kidney stones/surgery with only advil/tylenol so I didn't have to stop nursing, or pump and dump. I would do it again in a hear beat!), etc. You make LOTS of sacrifices to provide your baby with the best possible start to life you can. When I traveled to Chicago last weekend, I became outraged at the lack of support in airports. All I wanted was a place to sit, in some sort of privacy and pump while away from my baby for the first time.
When I'm with my baby, I have no problem nursing in public. I am a modest mommy though, and feel more comfortable nursing with a nursing cover. I will nurse my baby anywhere! (I buy them for all my friends who are expecting and plan to nurse! I own this one,Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover, Chateau Silver, btw....and 4 others.) Some mothers are really nervous about nursing in public, and some to the extent that they actually cannot produce milk for their baby unless in a quiet and private place. BUT, sometimes we're not WITH our babies! What then?
Now, I know there are LOTS of other nursing mommies out there who travel away from their children. We go to work, we might have to go on a business trip, a girls' weekend, a day out with our spouses......and we bring our pump with us, because we love our babies and we want to provide what's best for them. At the airport this weekend, I became aware there is no decent place for a nursing mother to go to pump. I was extremely disappointed and outraged. It's not as if I could go to my car, or another location. Once you're in there, you're "stuck!"
I tried the family restrooms, but they all seemed to be "occupied," even though I never saw anyone coming or going out of them. My other choice was the communal women's restrooms. When I finally found one family bathroom that wasn't occupied, I still had to stand next to the changing station, balancing my pump on the little corner of counter, while standing against the wall. It was definitely not sanitary! It was definitely not comfortable. Would it be so much to ask as to put a chair into all family restroom so mothers could either nurse their babies in there or pump? Some mothers are not comfortable nursing in public, and a family restroom would be a nice quiet place for them to go. A nursing mother, without her baby, is already feeling bad enough. Why make them stand in an unsanitary place to pump?
The communal womens' bathroom were humiliating! I stood there, setting up my equipment, next to the counter, which was next to the hand dryer and a sink. I put my nursing cover on and "set up shop." People were staring at me like I was some sort of alien. I took out my phone, brought up my Kindle App and tried to just keep my eyes on the screen. I had several woman tell me, "I remember those days!" But, most just stared. I even had one woman who actually tried to use the hand dryer right next to me. No, really. It was touching my side because I was wedged in there trying to disappear!!!! I wanted to shout, "GO AWAY WOMAN!!! Wait for another dryer! I'm humiliated enough, thank you!"
I was in the airport for almost 2 full days with all the cancellations and delays. It was NOT fun. I dreaded each pumping session more and more, knowing the fate that lay ahead. At Chicago O'Hare airport, I had a lot of time before my flight. I walked to a family restroom and, low and behold, the door opened! NO WAY! First time all weekend! I "set up shop" inside, breathing a sigh of relief that I could actually pump in private. I had everything all ready, turned on my pump, and......wait, seriously?! The outlet didn't work! UGH!!! So, I reluctantly walked next door to the communal women's bathroom, "set up shop" again, and found those outlets to be out of order as well. DOUBLE Ugh! I refused to walk to each and every bathroom to see which one would work. That's insane. I was ticked. So, I found help. (I had the time, so I took advantage!)
I would like to give a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to the woman at Chicago, O'Hare Airport who actually let me use someone's office at the airport to pump in. It was the first time, all weekend, I was able to sit, in private and pump. That woman probably had NO idea how much this meant to me.
I hope this story might help one person out there gain a little bit of compassion for a nursing mom. If you're in an airport and you see a mom in my situation, offer a smile, a helping hand, a few words of encouragement. She could really use it. It's hard enough being away from your baby. A situation like the one you read above makes it 10 times worse! :(
Maybe some of you can relate to this story. Does anyone have a similar airport story to share? Do you have any advice for other women faced with this type of situation? Do you have any tips or tricks? Let's discuss!