Everyone has their anxieties about getting on a long plane ride, especially with two small children in tow. If you’re an anxious person (like me), you obsess about it weeks before.
My anxiety is about nursing on the plane.
In most ways I’m delighted to do it. My son was never able to nurse, and we brought bottles and expressed milk for him on every single one of our many plane flights when he was a baby. Nursing on the plane frees me from worrying about whether there is enough milk, keeping the milk cold, carrying a bunch of bottles to get us through international flights, layovers, and local transit, and keeping those bottles clean so that they can be used again. Breastfeeding is way less stressful, and that’s before I even factor in how soothing nursing is to my daughter and how likely she is to drift quietly off to sleep when she nurses during takeoff. I’ve never for a minute considered going back to bottle feeding.
But still, there’s that anxiety…
Who will sit next to me, I wonder? Will anyone make any uncomfortable comments? Living in the Seattle, I’m not at all uncomfortable about nursing in public. People are very open here, and I’m pretty modest about covering up. I can’t recall more than a handful of times when I felt uncomfortable. But somehow the plane is different.
Perhaps it’s because I’m already sitting about as close to my seatmate as I do to my husband when we’re cuddling up on the couch after a long day. Perhaps it’s because of the already uncomfortable tension between needing to make small-talk without getting roped into a conversation that becomes awkward or won’t stop when you’re ready to get some shuteye.
Here are some of the worries that cross my mind.
- Will I be seated next to the 50 year old guy in a suit who’s already stressed about having kids on the plane at all?
- Will I be seated next to the leering guy who flew next to me from Seattle to Orange County one time? It felt like he was trying to watch what was happening and when it was all over, he had lots of questions about my coverup (and the enticing name “Hooter Hiders”)
- Will the stewardess be annoying? Sometimes it seems like they just cannot help themselves. After the big scandal where Emily Gilette was asked to leave a plane for refusing to cover up, I got an odd lecture from a flight attendant who commented that she was glad that I was covered, that they weren’t allowed to ask people to cover up anymore, and what kind of person would want to nurse without covering up. As politely as I could, I told her “maybe a person with a hot, sweaty, baby on a plane that hasn’t turned on its air conditioning yet.” That didn’t set a great tone for the rest of the trip.
- And what about the women? Somehow I always get seated next to someone who either nursed her children until they were 5 or who thinks the whole thing is gross.
I’m sure I could think of more crazy scenarios. I’m trying not to, but I have to say, I’m hoping that now that my son is two and gets his own seat I can surround myself with family members and avoid the whole thing.
Related LinksBerkeley Parent's Network: Breastfeeding in Public
Family Travel: Nursing is best for a travelling baby
How to Nurse on a Plane