Rafael Ben-Ari/Fotolia

What Are Your Breastfeeding Rights On An Airplane? There's A Lot To Think About

Ad failed to load

Whether you're only flying for an hour, or you're on a transpacific flight from New York City to Seoul, South Korea, flying with a baby is never an easy thing to do. Between all of the regulations, hassles, and side eye from passengers who act like they've never seen a baby before (and they're pretty sure it's a tiny explosive), it's problematic at best. If you're breastfeeding, you may find this adds a whole new layer of considerations to your list. For instance, what are your breastfeeding rights on an airplane? Can you pump? Do you have to cover up? How about milk storage on a long flight?

The answer is a complicated one. Other than the laws in the United States that breast milk and formula do not have to comply with the TSA rule that all liquids must be in 3-ounce containers and stored in a quart-sized zip top bags, there really isn't federal legislation on this issue. This means that your rights regarding breastfeeding and pumping are on an airline by airline basis, and can shift wildly between one and another. It's also dependent upon international laws. For instance, the milk storage law applies only to domestic flights and flights leaving the United States. It does not apply to flights entering the United States from other countries, which frequently have more stringent liquids laws, according to their federal regulations.

Ad failed to load

While most airlines have done a good job at taking care of the mothers on-board, there have definitely been some incidents that are cause for concern to breastfeeding moms taking to the not-so-friendly skies. Incidences of shaming are still happening, but thankfully, social media has done a lot in the way of holding airlines accountable for such occurrences. Even airlines flying out of notoriously conservative countries are bending over backwards to accommodate nursing mothers. It is true, you may be asked to cover up, and often, this is at the discretion of the flight attendants, according to FlyingWithBaby.com, so it's best to be prepared for that eventuality. The same goes for pumping on-flight. However, after spending a substantial amount of time researching this, I have found that most airlines don't exercise this policy often.

When you get to your destination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a helpful article about traveling with a breastfeeding infant that covers everything from medications to Zika virus, and how to find out about public breastfeeding laws in that specific country.

Ad failed to load

As you go about determining your breastfeeding rights on an airplane, your best bet is to call your carrier directly, or email them, and keep a record of this correspondence in the event trouble arises. Also, be sure you're specific when you speak with them, noting the age of your child, and to and from where and when you're traveling. Some airlines require babies over 2 years old be in their seat and buckled at take-off and landing, which can lead to confusion, as it seemed to do recently when a mother was kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight for attempting to breastfeed her 2-year-old at take-off.

Speaking for your expressed milk, most airlines cannot refrigerate your milk for you, but are more than happy to provide you with ample ice to keep it cold. The reason they cite for being unable to chill your milk is that it's a bodily fluid, and because they store food in those fridges, they cannot store bodily fluids as well.

For what it's worth, I've never had a problem breastfeeding on a flight, and I never attempted to cover up. It's a tricky space to be in, but lo how that social media outrage has benefitted the breastfeeding mother. Sure, we still have an uphill battle to support breastfeeding mothers, but little chips are being made. Contact your airline, get it in writing, and hopefully, the skies will be just a little more welcoming to you and your little one.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack