One mom just wanted to soothe her baby during her flight's takeoff by breastfeeding. This airline reportedly did not approve—and that’s not okay.

By Kaitlin Lowe
June 07, 2019

A mom says an air steward ordered her twice to stop breastfeeding her 7-month-old son aboard an airplane.

Rachel Duffy, a mother of two, tried to breastfeed her son Noah before a Ryanair flight took off for her home in England. According to The Independent, she was stopped from doing so by an flight attendant.

“The air steward came over and told me that I couldn’t feed my son,” Duffy said. “The steward stood and watched while I struggled to sit my baby up—who started to cry—and continued to stand there until I had redressed myself.”

The mom’s sister-in-law, Rachel Hey, who was 32 weeks pregnant and flying with Duffy, told The Sun that the attendant acted disrespectfully.

“The steward just stood there and watched Rachel unlatch, and there was no privacy or dignity,” Hey said.

Considering that Duffy had just breastfed Noah without issue on a Ryanair flight to Portugal ten days ago, the incident was especially jarring for the mom, telling The Sun, “I was really shocked, angry, and embarrassed by the situation.”

The mom reported reading online that breastfeeding could reduce the bothersome popping sensation in a baby’s ears. Since babies can’t chew gum like big kids or adults, swallowing while nursing can help equalize pressure at high altitudes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding in public is legal everywhere in the U.S., but policies vary when you’re 30,000 feet in the air, especially on non-U.S. airlines like Ryanair.

A Ryanair spokesperson told The Sun, “Breastfeeding mothers are very welcome on board our flights.”

But sadly, this mom is far from the only breastfeeding mother who has felt unwelcome on an airplane. Earlier this year, Air Canada reportedly told a woman she should breastfeed her son in an airplane bathroom and it took repeated tweets to the company to clarify that she wouldn’t be banished to the lavatory in-flight. In 2018, a mom was yelled at for bringing an additional bag full of pumping equipment onto an American Airlines flight (all within the rules) and forced to check her carry-on. And in 2017, a woman was reportedly kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight for breastfeeding her son before takeoff.

Though Duffy was able to nurse her son later during the flight, she claimed that once the plane landed, she was again told to stop.

“It made our flight very difficult and uncomfortable,” the mom said. “It’s left me incredibly anxious and nervous to fly again.” No nursing mom should have to carry on that anxiety.

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