Traveling with a breastfeeding baby or toddler can be anxiety provoking for any parent. What are some great tips to help you thrive during long road trips? Or how about traveling on a plane? What supplies are absolutely necessary and what can you leave at home? Plus, some advice about crossing state lines and visiting different cultures.
The Boob Group
Traveling With Breastfed Baby
Robin Kaplan: Travelling with a new baby or toddler can be quite anxiety provoking for any parent. How can a mother soothe her screaming baby on an airplane and where can she find the laws for breast feeding in public in a different state? Today I'm ecstatic to introduce Jessica Martin-Weber or as many of you know her as The Leaky Boob, breast feeding mom extraordinaire. So this is the Boob Group, episode 60.
Robin Kaplan: Welcome to The Boob Group, Broadcasting from the Birth Education Centre of San Diego. The Boob Group is your weekly online on-the-go support group for all things related to breastfeeding. I am your host Robin Kaplan. I am also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center.
Thanks to all of our loyal listeners who have joined The Boob Group Club, our members get all of our archived episodes, bonus content after each new show plus special giveaways and discounts. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for a chance to win a membership to our club each month. Another way for you to stay connected is by downloading our free App available from iTunes or the Android market place. So today in the studio we have three lovely panelists. Ladies, will you please introduce yourselves. Danielle, you want to go first?
Danielle Giambrone: Yes, my name is Danielle Giambrone. I am 28 years old. I stay at home with my little boy Vinny, who just turned two.
Robin Kaplan: Fantastic, Christine?
Christine: My name is Christine, I am 23. I am in the military, I have one 14-month-old little daughter named Zoe.
Robin Kaplan: And Toni?
Toni Trinidad: And I am Toni Trinidad. I'm an older mom, 42 and with my first baby who’s about two years and three months and his name is Mason, I'm also a part-time teacher.
Robin Kaplan: Awesome. Well, thanks ladies and welcome to the show.
Robin Kaplan: So today, we have Robyn Bellovich from BabyHawk and she is the sponsor of our show today. So Robyn, welcome into the studio. It’s so nice to have you.
Robyn Bellovich: Thanks, Robin.
Robin Kaplan: I'm Robin, you’re Robyn. I love BabyHawk and so I love your products. I'm super excited that you want to come and talk about them a little bit today. So tell us about BabyHawk, what type of carrier is it?
Robyn Bellovich: We actually have three different types of carriers. I will start with the beginning one which is the Mei Tai which we started making eight years ago. It is a front or back carrier, newborn to 40 pounds and it's tied on so you don't have to worry about adjusting any buckles or straps since it just ties right on and goes from caregiver to caregiver with no problem at all.
Our second carrier is called the Oh Mei!, and it’s a hybrid carrier. It has the top straps that tie like the Mei Tai but it has a structured bottom strap that buckles on. So you have a little bit more support with the lumbar when you’re in the back carrying position for older children but then you have the adjustability of the top straps to be able to tie around and do different types of carries that you’d want to do with like the Mei Tai.
And then our third carrier is the Oh Snap! And it’s our full soft structured carrier. All buckles and firm padded straps and it’s just easy breezy put it right on and go. A lot of dads prefer the Oh Snap! just because it’s a little bit easier to get on and there’s no tying involved. The Oh Mei! And the Oh Snap! is 15 pounds to 45 pounds. So you cannot carry your newborn in those carriers but they’re still good for plenty of years on past that.
Robin Kaplan: Absolutely. I've told the story a couple of times. We went to an all-day concert and we threw our four-year-old and five year old on our backs and carried them in and after it got past their bedtime because they could snuggle in and watch Pearl Jam.
Robyn Bellovich: Very good.
Robin Kaplan: And we got to enjoy it as well and it was just absolutely fantastic. So it’s amazing how long you can actually carry kiddos in there, very comfortable I mean after two hours my back obviously no matter what I was carrying --
Robyn Bellovich: You felt it.
Robin Kaplan: -- I didn’t think I we were going to be tired but we got to stay so much longer because they were so content. So where’s the BabyHawk made and or where are all of your carriers made and what’s the fabric like?
Robyn Bellovich: Well, we have our own manufacturing company in Oceanside, California. We have always made them ourselves we don't outsource any of our products or any of our pieces so they’re all made in-house. And we use 100% cotton twill for the straps and for the fabric patterns and stuff like that. So it’s all cotton.
Robin Kaplan: Fantastic, can you wash them?
Robyn Bellovich: Yes, you can.
Robin Kaplan: Oh, even better.
Robyn Bellovich: Yep.
Robin Kaplan: So I've heard it’s super easy to breastfeed your baby in a BabyHawk, how can a mom do that safely or do this while wearing her baby safely?
Robyn Bellovich: The easiest part about the BabyHawk is that the top straps are easily adjustable so that you can loosen them to drop the baby into a better position to get the baby down into the right position for breastfeeding. And you’re able to tie them back up and they’re safe and secure in that position. From there you would remove your breast and get your baby in position to nurse. A lot of times it becomes a little bit easier once the baby has better head control like three months. You can do newborns but it’s going to be a little bit hands-on and at all times there’s no point because you can't just set it and forget it. You need to be constantly aware of your baby when you’re nursing your baby in any kind of carrier to make sure there is clear airway and that you’re able to see their face and they’re able to look up at you. You don't ever want to cover their face or have them smushed up and not be able to breathe obviously. So it’s just very important to loosen the straps to the right position, retighten, get them in position, feed them and then when you’re done to make sure you put them back up in the right position by tightening the top straps back up again. If you don't want them – you want them visible and kissable at all times.
Robin Kaplan: Fantastic and since our episode is about traveling with your breastfeeding child how easy is it to travel with a baby or child in the BabyHawk?
Robyn Bellovich: I actually love traveling with the baby in the BabyHawk. There is a couple of things that really come to mind when I thought of this question. One is, when you are in the airport there is no need to take them out of the carrier to go through the checkpoint for security. As long as you take their shoes off, your shoes off, their coats, your coats beforehand you’re able to walk right through, you don't have to take them off, you don't have to hand them over to another caregiver, you just walk right through. And I've just found that that’s so nice especially when you’re needing to get everything up on to the luggage.
Robin Kaplan: Conveyor belt.
Robyn Bellovich: Exactly. Getting your shoes off is just so easy to know that your baby is right there, you don't have to worry about taking them out of the stroller and folding it up. But if you use a stroller as well you just have a portable luggage rack for your luggage. So it works well to use both at the same time.
Robin Kaplan: Absolutely and do you not have to take it off because there’s no metal.
Robyn Bellovich: Exactly there’s no metal and it’s great. And they always say no, just leave it in there.
Robin Kaplan: Oh wonderful. So where can our listeners find BabyHawks if they’d like to purchase them?
Robyn Bellovich: Babyhawk.com is obviously the choice to go first. You can go from there and purchase online from us direct. You can buy custom design which means you can choose your strap color, your pattern. We have over 16 patterns to choose from, you can make them reversible, extra long straps so on or you can use our store locator and find over a 400 retailers worldwide to see whether someone buy or you to maybe try one on beforehand.
Robin Kaplan: Wonderful and for all of our listeners, we have a nice promotion through BabyHawk that there is going to be a discount code, so do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Robyn Bellovich: Sure, we will be offering a 15% off all of our carriers on the babyhawk.com website just with the coupon code, one word boobgroup. Nice and easy.
Robin Kaplan: Awesome and so we’ll have a link to that on our website from this episode page as well so just in case you’re in your car and be listening to this and you can't write it down don't pull over, go to our website look for this episode and you can link directly there to order your own BabyHawk. Thanks so much for coming in this studio Robyn, it was nice to meet you.
Robyn Bellovich: It was nice to meet you too, Robin. Thank you.
Robin Kaplan: Thanks.
Robin Kaplan: So today on The Boob Group we’re discussing traveling with a breastfeeding child. Our expert Jessica Martin-Weber is a mother of six daughters, an artist, a philanthropist, a huge breastfeeding advocate and the author of the wildly popular website and Facebook page The Leaky Boob. Thank so much for joining us Jessica and welcome to the show.
Jessica Martin-Weber: Thanks, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Robin Kaplan: Wonderful so Jessica let’s start with road trips. What breastfeeding tips do you recommend for traveling long distances by car?
Jessica Martin-Weber: I laughed because my biggest tip is just to make sure you have a lot of time. We evacuated for Hurricane Rita a couple of years ago and I had a nursling. And it took us forever with traffic and it was just a total disaster. And then outside we thought we were going to arrive at a friend’s place in a matter of time, I guess we were going to drive straight through and that simply was not possible with a nursling you have to stop frequently, and you have to just to make sure you’re feeding mom, and you’re getting plenty of fluids and that means potty breaks and that means lots and lots of stops. And so my biggest tip is actually don't rush, take your time, make the journey part of the experience instead of just trying to get to your destination and it will be way more pleasant for everybody involved.
So that would be my first tip is to plan a lot, a lot of time. We have kind of discovered that when we’re doing road trips and we have a nursling especially if they are under 12 months and they’re really not yet having solids as a regular part of their nutrition and more of an experimental placing. They’re going to have to stop and eat frequently and we have a lot more fun when we plan for it to be about twice the actual riding time and we know that everybody’s going to have time to stretch their legs and baby will have plenty of time to eat.
My next tip would actually be to make sure you’re wearing comfortable, very comfortable and easy access clothes which most breastfeeding moms do anyway. But I found myself at times thinking I'm going to be able to hang out in the car wearing something that actually isn’t practical for easy stops and quick access and then my third one is to be okay pulling over someplace safe, sitting in the parking lot and feeding your baby. If there is not some place that you can go inside and sit down, that’s okay. But you do want to make sure you’re not pulled over on the side of the road and you are in a safe space.
And so those are my biggest tips for breastfeeding and traveling on the road. I have another one. This actually isn’t a tip as much as a warning. A lot of times I see on The Leaky Boob moms saying, well I just leaned over and fed my baby while they were in the car seat and I get that desperate times feel like they call for desperate measures and I've done it myself but the truth is, it’s not a safe option and it’s not a safe option for mom or the baby and there have been moments where we haven’t found the place so I've leaned over and I tried to get my boob to the baby which can be really hard in a rear facing safety seat by the way, and even harder in a forward facing so the point is though if something were to happen, if there were to be an accident, can you imagine the force of a mom going into her baby’s face, while that baby is feeding. It is not a safe option. So go ahead, plan the extra time and pull over and don't feed, resist the urge as much as possible, do not feed in the car seat and wait till you get someplace safe.
Robin Kaplan: Such a good bit of advice for taking a long journey as well. When my son was six weeks old we drove up to Northern California for my sister-in-law’s wedding and it definitely took us twice as long but my son was breastfed at the Madonna Inn, in San Luis Obispo, he was breastfed in one of my favorite restaurants in LA, like this kid was fed on Pismo Beach. I mean he had quite a little journey for his ride up to San Francisco and back so and we had photos of all of it, it was fantastic.
Jessica Martin-Weber: You know what would be fun? Take a picture in all the great places you end up having to stop to feed your baby and just be like here was our breastfeeding journey really, all along the way.
Robin Kaplan: I love it, I love it. Well, Jessica what items are most helpful to bring on a road trip to facilitate breastfeeding?
Jessica Martin-Weber: I like to have a pillow so that when I do find myself having to nurse in the car, I have some support and I can be more comfortable with something under my arm nursing in the car only when the car is stopped and parked and all that to keep everybody safe. So I like to have a pillow for support, I also like to have – I leak a lot breastfeeding, the leaky boob so it’s kind of critical for me to be sure that I have my breast pads, something’s that very absorbent and soft and comfortable, my favorite are Bamboobies. Just love knowing that if I leak and I probably will, I'm covered and I have something absorbent for that.
And then lots and lots of things could do because when you have a lot of stops, especially if they are not destination stops and there’s nothing to get out and do and you’re just sitting in a parking lot feeding your baby, it can get easy to start feeling restless and to rush the feeding and that’s not good for mom or baby. So take time to absorb your baby and to connect with your baby but then also have a book or book on tape or especially if you have other children you’re travelling with so something that will help capture everybody’s attention and baby can get that full feeding.
Robin Kaplan: Fantastic. Well I’d love to open this up to our panelists. Ladies, for those of you who have taken road trips, any other tips that you would like to add to this? I know Toni you had mentioned that you had done some travelling by car.
Toni Trinidad: Yeah, we’ve got some family about two hours away and I wish I’d known the time tip when it was my time to travel for the first time because we didn’t expect for it to take so long. So I learned that one kind of the hard way, yeah.
Robin Kaplan: Any other tips? Did you bring anything particular with you, in particular?
Danielle Giambrone: I think lots to drink for me like water and little snacks so that I could stay really nourished and feeling good and making sure that my supply was up because that was something that was always a concern for me.
Robin Kaplan: Thank you for sharing. How about you, Christine?
Christine: Well, actually my in-laws lived in Sacramento which is about a 10 hour drive usually.
Robin Kaplan: Usually, yeah.
Christine: A breastfeeding baby to go up there and we’ve taken several trips up there since the time she was probably about two months till now she’s 14 months and we take trips at least once every other month to go up there and we always drive. And I think the biggest help that we actually had speaking about rushing feedings is we actually started bringing our dogs with us instead of getting a dog sitter. So when we would come to stops my husband would take our dog out and like let her go to the bathroom, take on little walk so that way I didn’t feel rushed like, ‘okay, the shows waiting on me’.
Robin Kaplan: Right.
Christine: He’s going to take his time with the dog and I'm going to take my time with our daughter and we’re just going to chill out here. And we’d always get food like an actual meal for both of us not just snacks every time we would stop so it’s like, ‘okay family time out right now’. And then we’ll hit the road hard again.
Robin Kaplan: Fantastic. How about you Danielle?
Danielle Giambrone: I did a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area from here with my baby when he was four weeks old and I drove all the way by myself.
Robin Kaplan: Oh, my goodness.
Danielle Giambrone: Yeah so he was a little enough that he was fairly comfortable in the car seat and I could just really try to maximize on drive time. My tip is try to – when you have kind of established what your child – you see your child’s routine, try to plan your trip around that routine when it’s most convenient. Like say, you know that your baby gets their longest nap time, first-morning nap so maybe don't leave in the middle of the night or early, early morning. Wait right until they are going to go for that long nap and then hit the road and then try to get as much drive time as you can during that nap time. That really helped me a lot, is really paying attention to his own natural rhythms and then trying to coordinate my driving schedule with those rhythms, that helped out a lot. It was tough for us because my baby was a big and still is a huge comfort nurser, so if you have a baby that takes a pacifier, that is a huge lifesaver. I would think – I remember driving that drive by myself and he wouldn’t take a pacifier and wouldn’t like have it himself but if I would hold it for him so I remember kind of we were just driving in a really small little pickup truck and I could reach back and he was so small I could hold that pacifier for him and we made the last 45 minutes driving over that ultimate pass--
Robin Kaplan: Yeah.
Danielle Giambrone: -- through Northern California and with the help of the pacifier. So, for me it was just really about timing and sort of preplanning that helped out a lot.
Robin Kaplan: Wonderful advice ladies. So let’s switch it up a little bit, Jessica. So, traveling by plane, what tips do you recommend for breastfeeding on a plane and how important is it to bring a cover?
Jessica Martin-Weber: Well, I travel a lot and this last year since I’ve had a sugar baby. I speak at events and more because of me traveling a lot so he has been with me on the plane just about 12 times in the first 12 months.
Robin Kaplan: Wow.
Jessica Martin-Weber: And so we’ve had a lot of plane trips and I don't bother with the cover. And the truth is, even when I did back in the day when I was breastfeeding my older girls and I had to fly, I found the cover was really more in the way and in such a small space, I'm shielded so much by the seats in front of me and the people around me that the only people I really risk seeing anything were those immediately next to me, I found most of them to be more than understanding and supportive.
Now I'm more confident and I don’t care, somebody did or doesn’t really face me and the flight. Guys, I don't think a cover is necessary and large part because it’s just one more thing to deal with in such a small space. But if that makes mom feel more comfortable, then by all means take your cover, just have a plan for how you’re going to use it, feel comfortable with it, practice with it but I would really recommend that before you even make the decision to take a cover with you, practice breastfeeding in front of the mirror and see how much is actually showing. See how comfortable you can get holding your breast out and getting your baby latched without needing a cover. And if you can do that maybe you don't need to have a cover with you. But again if that makes you more comfortable then sure take one, if that’s what going to help you travel in comfort with your baby and get their needs met then by all means do so.
Robin Kaplan: Wonderful and Desiree from our Facebook page wants to know what items do you recommend for a breastfeeding mother to bring with her on a plane?
Jessica Martin-Weber: Actually, I'm kind of a minimalist when I travel especially by plane. There’s so many times when I've gotten into the plane and the overhead vents are full or I'm going to have to check something and so I travel super light. In general, I have one carry-on that’s usually a roller board, and I keep my laptop in there and some snacks and all that, but in general, that’s going to end up in the overhead and I'm not going to bother trying to access that while I'm flying with an infant.
And then I keep a very small canvass bag. I usually use my Earth Mamma Angel Baby Chinese Tout and in there I have my wipes, my diapers and snacks for me and snacks for the baby and a water bottle kind of jammed in there and some toys and maybe a small either Anais Muslin Blanket that’s rolled up so that I have some support if I need it and then I have my neck pillow and that’s about all I travel with. Because the seats are small, because the armrest are right there, I find I don't need a whole lot of extra support and any extra support I need I can use my bag or that pillow or the muslin blanket.
And so I make sure I'm wearing a layer so I usually am wearing a nursing tank, t-shirts and I have yoga pants on and that’s -- and the nursing necklace so my baby has something to fiddle and play with. That can actually save both of our sanity through the whole flights.
Robin Kaplan: Exactly.
Jessica Martin-Weber: And that’s usually all I have and of course, my trusty Bamboobies, they’re always everywhere. And that’s it. And I find that making sure that I entertain baby once we’re boarded and try to delay the breastfeeding until we’re pulling away from the gate and we’re on the tarmac getting ready to take off, that way she’s latched and comfortable for the take-off and it’s smooth.
Generally, it’s really smooth sailing for me. I find that if I can get my baby to latch as we’re pulling away from the gate, I have no problem with take-offs, she is usually asleep by the time the seatbelt light goes off and I could get up and go to the bathroom. That is my other tip, go to the bathroom before you board, because chances are strong you won’t get to go again.
Robin Kaplan: Those are great tips, ladies what else do you have to add to that? Have you breastfed on a plane and if yes, how did it go and were you nervous? Christine, I know you’re a huge traveler.
Christine: Yeah, I have breastfed on a plane and I have like a lot that I agree with what she said and a lot to add actually. I personally really like sitting on an aisle seat to breastfeed because that’s one side that I don't have to worry about somebody being there, one side that I don't have to worry about my daughter kicking someone while I'm breastfeeding and just--it’s just I have more space that way because nursing in between two people, which I've also done, is just uncomfortable especially if they are very large men. And as soon as I sit down and I see anyone sitting around me I just let them know, ‘hey, so I'm going to be nursing, is there any problems with that, do we need to let a stewardess know?’
I've never had any issues and it’s just been smooth sailing and yeah, waiting until you’re about to take off, you know that you’re taxing before you latch is a huge thing so that way they aren’t done nursing while you’re ascending or descending and then they have their ear problems and I'm sure that would just spoil the whole flight. So yeah, and I love travelling on planes with her. I have a backpack as my carry-on just like a big like giant backpack that I shove everything in and put the most accessible stuffs like the things that you’re going to use the most in the front like diapers and wipes and maybe some snacks or toys and I have my ergo. So I have my laptop on my bag and my ergo on front and my daughter’s like right on my chest. So, in that way if I need to go to the bathroom and I don't have anyone that I can, ‘okay, can you just hang on to her real quick, while I go to the bathroom’ on the plane, I can just strap her in that and go. And just hands free all over the place having a backpack and an ergo.
Robin Kaplan: Perfect, how about you Danielle?
Danielle Giambrone: We have flown a lot quite frequently. I made the mistake when he was – our first flight was when he was eight weeks old and I thought I had to bring everything. So we had the car seat and a stroller but he was in a carrier, he was in the mobi and I had a diaper bag and just all these things and I flew by myself, I seem to travel a lot with my little guy, just me and him but it was insane, it was terrible, it was so stressful. Since then I’ve sort of streamlined the process and I think that I bring in nothing with me besides the baby and a carrier and that’s it and my purse and that’s really it. In my personal stuff maybe a couple of little things but nothing major at all. I keep it super, super simple. When he was eight weeks old, that first trip I wasn’t necessarily concerned about covering for ‘modesty’ sake or anybody else’s comfort. I was super paranoid of germs, I thought the re-circulated air and I put him under this cover and he would just breathe his own germs and everybody else’s so, I did cover that first time. My experience has been the sound of the plane is like white noise.
Robin Kaplan: Yeah.
Danielle Giambrone: He sleeps the whole time. The last time we travelled it was from here to Chicago for The MommyCon thing and he was just about to be two and I was really worried about it and I took a bigger backpack this time with more toys and snacks and things to try to keep him occupied and I didn’t need any of it because I had the handy-dandy boobs and that was really it. He snuggled up and the plane takes off and same thing, I kind of wait until we were sort of getting in the air, he likes to look out the window and I show him things, even when he was tiny I like to try to involve him in things and show him what’s going on and stuff and so, look around and see what’s going on and then we start getting up a little bit higher then latch and he just falls right asleep. So flying is my preferred method of travel with baby over driving for sure.
Robin Kaplan: Wonderful and Toni have you tried it yet?
Toni: I haven’t tried it yet but I have been listening intently because we’re traveling at the end of this summer.
Robin Kaplan: Oh really? Oh perfect, wonderful.
Toni: Yeah, that’s fine, so I am really taking it in.
Robin Kaplan: Wonderful. When we come back, Jessica will discuss breastfeeding and public laws while traveling, so we’ll be right back.
Robin Kaplan: Welcome back. Today we are talking about traveling with a breastfeeding child with Jessica Martin-Weber. So Jessica, when a mom is traveling by plane how can she prepare herself to breastfeed in such a small amount of space?
Jessica Martin-Weber: Well, I think we kind of covered a lot of that with having a carrier and feeling confident in just knowing that the boob is going to be the easiest way to feed your baby. So I think to prepare in that kind of space is just like I've mentioned before, watch yourself breastfeed, see how you do it. And for a lot of women we think it’s this big production and sometimes it is especially if you have very large breasts or if you are having issues with the baby latching. But in general, babies know how to breastfeed and we can trust that once you get to the point where you are ready to leave your house at all and travel for sure, you probably have some skill when it comes to feeding a baby and so to trust and have some confidence is actually probably the most important thing you can do because if you are confident, the baby is going to be relaxed and the people around you are going to get this, don’t mess with momma’s side, and that goes a long way in keeping you both comfortable during a feeding.
So that would be probably my biggest thing and then just wearing comfortable clothes, have a carrier. I like to use a ring sling often especially when they’re really little because then they fall asleep on the breast, I just keep him in the sling and I lower it down and feed them and then sinch it up a little bit when they have fallen asleep and then I can kind of recline and we can relax together for the rest of the flight.
So, just things that worked for you at home probably are going to work for you on the plane too. It’s more that you need to feel confident in yourself and in your baby and in this time together. And then you don’t need a lot of things. Someone has mentioned earlier that they took everything last time the first time they traveled. You’ll end up feeling like you stick out. You are bumping people with your giant diaper bag and you’re worried about your stroller and all these tasks end up becoming more of a hassle and a headache. So minimize, simplify as much as possible and it will be an easier experience for everyone.
Robin Kaplan: Terrific and say a mom wants to bring breast milk in a bottle with her. What are her rights according to the TSA?
Jessica Martin-Weber: Well, this is kind of an interesting subject because it’s – well TSA actually has on their website information about travelling with breast milk and it’s really simple and straight forward and fortunately we know from experience that different women, different TSA agents have not been quite clear on what the rules are.
Robin Kaplan: Yeah, to put it softly.
Jessica Martin-Weber: Yeah, I'm trying to be kind of diplomatic in how I say this. There have been times when it’s a problem. So the best a mom can do is actually print out TSA’s own guidelines and have them with you and I know it’s an inconvenience and it’s just one more thing to remember but I just carry mine in my pump, it is in the pocket of my pump bag so that if I need it I can show them, here, here are your own guidelines printed off your website. And I tried to check up before I go just in case they’ve changed because they could between trips.
But print out those rules, be prepared to show them and then a very compliant attitude of – this is just my milk for my baby. Try not be argumentative just explain you’re trying to feed your baby in case they question it. But in general, you just pack it like you normally would, they may ask you if it is not frozen to taste it and they may not ask that, they may want you to dump it out. It’s hard to say but having their own guidelines with you is your best bet to making sure it’s a smooth process getting through security with your own milk.
Robin Kaplan: Absolutely, and what about the women’s rights while on the plane, are there certain rights that protect her to breastfeed in public on a plane?
Jessica Martin-Weber: There are certain rights that are protected federally for a woman to breastfeed her baby at all, as well as in the States. The problem becomes if it’s in the air and there some questions of new jurisdiction or what laws are covered. However, there are federal laws protecting a woman’s rights to breastfeed her baby wherever she has the right to be.
And so, if there were to be a problem we hear that that are problem but I want to remind people of that, we hear more about this fewer times there are issues than the millions of times moms are flying and breastfeeding and don’t have any issue at all. I have never ever been harassed on a plane for breastfeeding my baby, I have never been asked to cover, I have never been asked to move and I have never been asked to stop.
And so I think it’s important to really don't expect trouble, be confident, feed your baby, don’t expect trouble but if trouble does come know your rights, know the laws. When I am travelling, I look up the law and have them printed out because it’s really hard to argue with things in print. I have them printed out. So whenever I am traveling, from whatever state I am traveling from to whatever state I am traveling to and I have those laws with me. If I am flying internationally, I do that as well.
I am, again, never had an issue. So, just being prepared can help you but a mother’s rights are protecting within the States to breastfeed wherever she and her baby have the right to be in the first place. So if you have the right to be on that plane; you have the right to feed your baby on that plane, however you feed that baby.
Robin Kaplan: Absolutely and you touched upon just – when you go to a new state that you also bring the laws of that particular state as well and so are there any other preparations that you do when you are travelling to new states to know what their laws are?
Jessica Martin-Weber: Just a look at that, and then I do a little Google search to see what kind of issues there have been in that state regarding breastfeeding and I will be honest, I did this like three times and then I forgot because I didn’t have the time to do it. But if you are particularly nervous about it, do a search, see what kind of attitude there seems to be in that particular area if there is anything. For example, if you’re coming to Houston, you would search and you would say, “oh look! This target actually asked a woman to cover it if there was a big nursing and there was all this drama about it and that kind of things. So you would kind of have an idea but I don’t want you to be – I don't want a mom to be afraid to feed her baby just because a particular area has had drama surrounding a mom breastfeeding. But having breastfeed laws printed out -- at some you can find cards and you can make your own cards with the law printed on it and actually have the law reference number on there.
But I usually just print it off of the actual state website page and just have it like, here look it’s got your website on here and everything and I just hand them that. However, when I was, for the first time ever, asked to cover while in Vegas last January, I didn’t have it with me. I have lost it in my hotel room. I wasn’t carrying anything with me because I was a speaker at a very breastfeeding friendly event. I was there because of the The Leaky Boob, it was MommyCon and when I got asked to cover, I laughed at the manager because I was so taken aback.
But then I did inform her of the law and she actually respected that. I don’t think she was prepared for my response but she respected that and I told her that I can get you the reference number if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll be more than happy to supply you with that legal information but you do not have the right to ask me to cover and you do not have the right to ask me to leave because I have a right to breastfeed my baby, anywhere my baby and I are accommodated to be according to Nevada State Law and so she left me alone.
Robin Kaplan: It’s so cool. That article is one of the funniest – you have some of the funniest photos in that article showing pictures of you and those things compared to like the topless dancers I mean.
Jessica Martin-Weber: Just kind of nursing in front of the state club.
Robin Kaplan: I know, like of all places to be asked to cover up, Vegas is just quite ironic.
Jessica Martin-Weber: It was, I thought that’s the manager because I actually thought she was joking at first. So I laughed and then I realized, oh you’re being serious and then I just said.
Robin Kaplan: Then you’re like, do you realize what I talk about all day. You’re kind of taking the battle with the wrong person.
Jessica Martin-Weber: My friend that was listening said, “why didn’t you say, do you know who I am?” and I said because I was very certain she had no clue.
Robin Kaplan: Yeah, pretty much, so ladies, since you have been travelling so much and for those who have been to a different state, did you do any type of preparation as well to find out what the laws were? Christine, you’re kind of shaking your head or nodding your head I should say.
Christine: Yeah, I have been to Nevada as well and I have been to Oklahoma, that’s where I'm from and I went back for Christmas. And I've been to Texas, just so you know it’s stopping points along the way getting to Oklahoma while flying and stuff. And I remember when I was still pregnant, I looked up, kind of different state laws before we had like the federal law like protecting us, I think it was before the federal law protecting us, before I knew about it anyway. So I was looking up different states because I knew that there have been issues in states. I'm like, how are people asking? How do you know that asking people to leave because they are breastfeeding was a thing, like what, why, I don’t get it. So I was looking at different state laws and I am like, the two states that apply to me, California where I live; Oklahoma where I'm from. So I already knew the States laws and I knew that there was like mother protection; you can ask someone to – you can't ask someone to leave but if you get asked to leave you cannot sue them for asking you in the first place, so I knew that that was kind of an issue but when I travelled to Oklahoma my daughter was already nine months and by that point like – come ask me to cover up, let’s see what happens. I was so pro like mamma bear about it that I'm like – I don't even – if the laws have changed I don't really care. I know that I have a comeback for everything when it comes to feeding my daughter so whatever.
Robin Kaplan: Danielle, how about you? Did you do any research on that?
Danielle Giambrone: No, I thought about it, it did cross my mind like maybe I should look about laws or something but I have majority flown just within California but when I flew back to Chicago, I mean I was going there to visit breastfeeding friends and do help with the MommyCon thing and so I was really not thinking I was going to have an issue with it. But I think I do like what Jessica was talking about, I'm sort really confident with what I'm doing and I don't worry about what anybody else is saying and I always look for other families getting on the plane and I try to sit near them because I figure, well, even if my baby is not going to breastfeed, if he is fussing or running around or making noise or whatever, the families are going to be more understanding. So for sort of all banded together in one section of the plane that seems to go well but it keeps him occupied for a little while and then he always ends up falling asleep anyway.
So I never really worried about it too much actually I was telling somebody the other day, I didn’t even know nursing in public was an issue! Until the baby was months old, I think maybe took four, five, six months they’ve been nursing in public for his whole since like day two. So I didn’t even know that that was a thing, so I think I sort of just do my own thing and mind my own business and it goes really well.
Robin Kaplan: It’s so funny. I was thinking the same thing while you all were talking too, my kids are much older they’re almost eight and six and a half. We were traveling with them at a very, very early age and flying across the country when they were both each around four or five months old and it never crossed my mind to look up what the laws were and stuff. So I mean I guess there’s more awareness now that there is nursing in public harassment but at the same time that ignorance was bliss because I never even thought that I couldn’t breastfeed in public here, on the plane or in New Jersey.
So, sometimes maybe that confidence is what helped as well. I mean obviously, I know women who confident still get harassed on planes as well but it’s just -- I think like you had mentioned Jessica, it really doesn’t happen quite as often as we hear about it because those stories are very sensational.
Jessica Martin-Weber: Right and with me, it was funny and I'm glad that when it happened to me and it wasn’t on the plane although my response probably would have been pretty much exactly the same minus the ‘you do realize there’s pictures of topless women all around us right?’ But I was nursing my sixth baby, I had a leaky boob for two and half years by this point. I know what I'm talking about I am confident this is all the hard for me and so very definitely a piece of this but as much as I don't want to scare moms, the reality for some reason this has become a plus point in our culture and we are going to have to be prepared, if nothing else, just with the confidence that we need to feed our babies and that’s okay and we don't need to apologize for it and we don't deserve to be harassed for it. And so there is an element of it because in six babies – I've had six babies and breastfed all of them and it wasn’t until my sixth that I finally had someone say something to me, it was so bizarre but the reality is in the end, what ended up making it work for my baby and I just kept breastfeeding her through the whole conversation which is knowing that my baby had the right to eat and my baby had the right to eat and she was biologically programmed to eat more than whoever complained about it had the right to not eat.
And so that confidence fuelled me even when I thought this is so ridiculous and as much as I may have wanted to storm out and walk away, I knew that I needed to stand up for my daughter’s right to eat and be okay with that and that was really empowering in the sense that I already was confident in feeding my baby but now I was ready to stand up for it. So, having the information and being prepared isn’t a bad thing but most of time it’s not going to be necessary, you’re not going to need it but it may go a long way in making you feel more comfortable.
Robin Kaplan: Totally. All right, one last question for you. Casey had posted on our Facebook page, ‘when travelling internationally, how does one get a feel of the culture so that mom can be culturally respective when breastfeeding in public in this new space?’
Jessica Martin-Weber: Okay I want to – on one hand my background is so steeped in cultural issues and my husband and I are, we’re culturally diverse. He grew up in France and I grew up in south Florida, and so we came from a very different perspective on everything and so we tried to navigate that a lot in our lives personally and professionally and interacting in different cultural settings.
And I advocate cultural sensitivity. I believe that it’s really important to be informed but when it comes to feeding our babies, I believe that moms need to feed their babies and cultural sensitivity is important and it certainly has a place certainly when you’re going into someone’s home and when you are interacting with them, with others of a different culture particularly in their culture. There is definitely a huge value of being culturally sensitive. But when it comes to feeding your baby, your first responsibility is to feed your baby and cultural sensitivity takes a backseat to that and the amazing thing I have discovered, I have traveled through quite a few different cultures, another culture seems to embrace that wholeheartedly, feed your baby. Just feed your baby and your baby needs to be fat and in most of the world that breastfeeding is so much more accepted even in areas where breastfeeding rates are low, it’s still accepted and celebrated in many ways more than it is in the States.
Which is pretty much complimentary as to where we are in the States, but motherhood is almost celebrated in a way that feeding her baby generally isn’t going to be against the culture. And so breastfeeding is accepted because that’s what you do. So to feel it out, you may want to talk to people that are there. Just ask them, ‘hey, I'm going to be breastfeeding, is there anything that I need to know?’ But you also can look it up La Leche League International has lots of information about breastfeeding in different cultures because they’re all over the world and there’s an amazing projects online in general whether it be the La Leche Group or other online groups where women are sharing their breastfeeding experiences from a global perspective. That’s the beauty of the Internet is we can all have this global community.
So feel out the other moms, find the breastfeeding moms around the world and just ask them and be open and then when you’re in the moment, in that situation for example, I've had to feed my baby in the middle of Paris on the steps of a cathedral because she got hungry right then and so what are you going to do? And I sat down and I fed her but I did kind of scout out just to see, am I asking for trouble in anyway because I don't want that to be the highlight of our trip. And in general, at that time it was just, no, I just to feed my baby and actually I love this story, it’s kind of a cute little experience.
I found that travelling through Paris both as a pregnant woman and then with a breastfeeding baby. There were not a whole lot of children around often when I would be out with my baby and meeting with friends for sightseeing or whatever the case may be. But I always felt appreciated whether it was somebody I would step on to the metro and somebody would hop out or – three teenage guys hopped out to make sure I had a seat when I was nine months pregnant on the metro and I was just like, wow! That does not happen back home. And just kind of watch in general, how the cultural reacts to children and that will give you a pretty good clear as to how they’re going to feel about you feeding your baby.
Robin Kaplan: Such great advice. Well, thank you so much Jessica for your insight into travelling with a breastfeeding child. And for our Boob Group Club Members our conversation will continue after the end of the show as Jessica will discuss her tips for staying in a hotel with a breastfeeding child. For more information about our Boob Group Club please visit our website at the boobgroup.com.
Robin Kaplan: So here’s a question that we received on our Facebook page, this is from Andrea and it says, ‘hello ladies, I have a question for anyone who might know. I am in desperate need of a breast pump. I don't have insurance and I'm nursing a baby who I'm convinced is part vampire. I've tried everything I can to think of – to help him to stop biting. Well I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet but I really need help. Please and thanks in advance.’
Andrea Blanco: Hi Andrea, this is Andrea Blanco International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I'm so sorry breastfeeding is not working out for you just yet. Younger babies who seem to bite while nursing are usually trying to overcompensate for some difficulty they may be having while trying to breastfeed. This is definitely a situation where I would encourage you to seek local guidance from a skilled International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who’s able to do a full oral assessment and figure out what it is that your little vampire is doing with his tongue that is causing you so much discomfort and be able to give a care plan for moving past your breastfeeding difficulties.
If your plan is to go to exclusive pumping, then a quality multi-user breast pump like the kind used in rented at hospitals is what you’ll need. As you’ve said you aren’t ready to give up just yet I really hope you’re able to find that in-person help you need so that doesn’t happen. Good luck.
Robin Kaplan: That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to The Boob Group. Don’t forget to check out our sister show, Preggie Pals’ for Expecting Parents and our show Parent Savers for Moms and Dads with Newborns, Infants and Toddlers. Coming up next week we have Wendy Wright discussing how can you know your baby is getting enough in the series, Breastfeeding and the Working Mom.
Thanks for listening to The Boob Group; Your Judgment-Free Breastfeeding Resource.
The views and experiences shared by Christine in this episode are her own personal opinions and not that of the United State Arm Forces. This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in these areas are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.
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