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Breast-pumping mom 'felt humiliated' by flight attendant

  , NBC News contributor   –   20 hrs.

Breast-pumping mom 'felt humiliated' by flight attendant

Dawnella Brahos with her child.

Courtesy Dawnella Brahos

Dawnella Brahos with her child.

Despite reassurances by reservation agents that using a breast pump at her seat was allowed, American Airlines passenger Dawnella Brahos says she was was embarrassed on a recent flight from Minneapolis to Chicago when a flight attendant told her that plugging in the device was forbidden.

“She was speaking in a loud voice, reading a page from a manual and adamant that because it was not pre-approved medical equipment I could not use the pump at my seat,” Brahos told NBC News. “I felt humiliated. Everyone pretty much knew my business at that point and she kept checking back and eyeballing me the whole time to make sure I wasn’t using the pump.”

On April 18, Brahos, a 38-year-old mother of three from Lowell, Ind., was on the last leg of trip to California with her husband. Her three kids, including one still on breast milk, were at home with her mom.

Before her trip, she spent hours on the phone talking to airline reservation agents and their supervisors, all of whom told her not to worry.

Dawnella Brahos and the Medela pump

Courtesy Dawnella Brahos

Dawnella Brahos and the Medela pump she was asked to not use by the American Airlines flight attendant.

“I researched which airplanes had outlets at the seats so I could plug in my pump and I made sure that the type of breast pump I had – a Medela – was approved. I brought along a big Angry Birds blanket to cover myself with. And my husband and I even paid extra to make sure we’d get seats next to each other so I wouldn’t be sitting next to a stranger while using the pump.”

During three legs of the trip, Brahos had no problem using her breast pump during the flight and says helpful flight attendants even let her plug in the breast pump in the galley.

But on the final leg of the trip, Brahos said the flight attendant told her she could not use the galley nor use the pump at her seat. “She even said I was making up the fact that I had used the pump on previous flights,” said Brahos.

“A lot people are saying I should have used the pump in the bathroom, but airplane bathrooms are pretty disgusting places to try to use a breast pump. And even if I did choose to pump in the bathroom, we weren’t even allowed to get up from our seats because the flight was so rough.”

American Airlines issued an apology, saying it does not have a policy prohibiting the use of breast pumps in-flight.

"We apologize for the experience Ms. Brahos had on a recent flight. Our in-flight personnel are trained to handle these situations with professionalism and discretion... As with other devices that have an on/off switch, customers will be asked not to use them during takeoff and landing.”

“Our procedures advise our crews to ensure that mothers who are breastfeeding or using breast pumps have the privacy they need,” said American Airlines spokesperson Andrea Huguely.

La Leche League International encourages mothers to check with the airline if they plan to travel with a breast pump. Because “we clearly still have a culture that is not yet aware of the needs of breastfeeding mothers,” La Leche International spokesperson Diana West says it’s a good idea to print out and carry a copy of the airline’s rules with them when they travel.

Brahos received a $100 voucher from an airline representative at the airport after she complained about her treatment, but is planning on filing a formal complaint. For now, she says she wants the airline “to let moms do what they need to do.”

by on May. 1, 2013 at 7:54 AM
Replies (41-50):
Mom2Just1
by Gold Member on May. 2, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Why do we breastfeeding mothers get so much hassle?  I don't see bottle feeding mothers get so much hassle for feeding their child.  

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LHummel
by on May. 2, 2013 at 9:55 AM

I understand her point here and why she is upset but why not just nurse baby in flight? Obviously I dont know her situation but it wasn't stated that she had to pump, so why not just have baby nursing while flying? I do think she was treated wrongly and the flight attendant was a jerk. 


tansyflower
by on May. 2, 2013 at 10:02 AM
Quoting LHummel:

I understand her point here and why she is upset but why not just nurse baby in flight? Obviously I dont know her situation but it wasn't stated that she had to pump, so why not just have baby nursing while flying? I do think she was treated wrongly and the flight attendant was a jerk. 


in the article is said the children were at home with her mother, so she could not have nursed.
Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on May. 2, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Sounds like the one attendant was just being a bitch.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on May. 2, 2013 at 10:14 AM
It's hard as hell to bring stuff for a formula fed baby on a plane... Trust me. They gripe about the bottle size, the water amount, throw your water out and make you pay $6 for bottled water past security, measure out or sift through your formula... It's no picnic either.

Quoting Mom2Just1:

Why do we breastfeeding mothers get so much hassle?  I don't see bottle feeding mothers get so much hassle for feeding their child.  

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Mom2Just1
by Gold Member on May. 2, 2013 at 10:18 AM

I understand that.  It is just as a breastfeeding mother I have received the looks, comments, etc.  My sister(who formula feeds) tells me she never has anyone say a thing about her bottle feeding.  You would think it would be the opposite. Considering breastfeeding is how you're supposed to feed your child.


Quoting Mommy_of_Riley:

It's hard as hell to bring stuff for a formula fed baby on a plane... Trust me. They gripe about the bottle size, the water amount, throw your water out and make you pay $6 for bottled water past security, measure out or sift through your formula... It's no picnic either.

Quoting Mom2Just1:

Why do we breastfeeding mothers get so much hassle?  I don't see bottle feeding mothers get so much hassle for feeding their child.  



Daisypath Anniversary tickersLilypie First Birthday tickers

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickersLilypie Breastfeeding tickers



SunshneDaydream
by Silver Member on May. 2, 2013 at 11:07 AM

I'm glad American Airlines stepped up and did the right thing for her.  

SunshneDaydream
by Silver Member on May. 2, 2013 at 11:15 AM

She paid extra to ensure a seat next to her husband.  She made sure she wouldn't be inconveniencing anyone else.  Hand-pumping is hard, time-consuming, and doesn't yeild as much milk as an electric pump.  My guess is she wasn't just trying to relieve engorgement but wanted to replace the pumped milk her mother was feeding the baby while she was away, so she wanted to get a decent amount. 

Quoting talia-mom:

I don't know. You asked why not on the plane. From her picture, it was going to be a very tight squeeze to begin with and she has no reason to take part of someone else's space because she couldn't hand do it.


Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting talia-mom:

Space



Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Did this really have to be done on the plane in the first place?  Better planning could have avoided all of this.

why not on the plane?




was the ever the issue? or was the issue that it was approved as a medical device? I've seen people on a plane with oxyegen tanks that were a little larger than that pump appears to be. But, you know, breathing is paramount. lol



SunshneDaydream
by Silver Member on May. 2, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Exactly.  This woman went above and beyond to make sure she wouldn't run into problems or inconvenience anyone.  And she didn't, for 3 out of 4 flights.  The flight attendant was wrong, period.  And I'm glad this woman made a big enough deal out of it for it to be turned into a news story so that other women (and airline personnel) can learn from it. 

Quoting jllcali:

She shouldn't have to. The flight attendant should have known the airline's policy.

Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting Kmary:

This has really got to stop.   This woman did everything right.  She checked ahead of time every single detail to make sure it was alright and was completely discreet.  Not pumping when one needs to is at least uncomfortable and at most a medical issue leading to mastitis.  There is really no defending the flight attendant in this instance. 

America's entire attitude towards breastfeeding really needs an adjustment.

she could have asked for a faxed, signed letter confirming her answer or asked the airline to mail her a formal approval


SEEKEROFSHELLS
by Platinum Member on May. 2, 2013 at 11:33 AM

 To hell with using the pump. Let the kid scream the whole time for not being fed. That kid doesn't need nourishment that bad anyway. Let it starve.

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