As I mentioned in this post last week, my six month old and I recently flew across the country, from Memphis, TN to Tuscon, AZ to visit my sister and her new baby for four days.
I was fairly apprehensive leading up to the trip. I have lots of experience breastfeeding in public, but a plane is the definition of “close quarters”, especially since my six month old did not have a seat. I wanted to use my cloth diapers, but wasn’t sure if I would have room in my bags, and was a little worried about washing them at my sister’s, and without my laundry detergent. (I thought about bringing a bag with me, but decided a ziploc bag full of an unknown white powder might set off some security concerns!!)
The trip turned out better than I expected, but I learned some things too, and I’ll be sharing my experience and tips in three separate posts. Today’s subject is breastfeeding, and next week I’ll share about traveling with cloth diapers.
Under Cover -
I haven’t always used a cover, but I often do for this baby. I was very glad I had brought one on my trip, and if you are at all self-conscious about nursing in public, in very close physical proximity to strangers of the opposite gender, you may want to throw one in your bag, or bring a sling or baby carrier that allows you to easily nurse discreetly. Several of my flights were completely booked – not a single open seat on the plane. On one flight in particular I ended up next to two men, one about my age, one an older business man. They were both obviously uncomfortable about sitting next to a woman with a baby, and even more so about me nursing. They were not rude at all, and did not say or do anything to indicate that I shouldn’t nurse, but it was obvious they were uncomfortable. It made me less stressed knowing there was no way they were going to see anything.
Note: The above is not to in any way imply that covering is a necessity. I think it might be helpful to bring a cover in case you want one. If you don’t want one, that is absolutely fine too!
Positions Matter -
One issue we did run into was that my son is a sprawling nurser, and he is pretty long for a six month old, at over 27 inches. Not a problem at all at home, but a bit of an issue when he is stretching out his feet and kicking the people next to us!
Position on the plane: Having an aisle seat helped, and I recommend being sure you reserve an aisle seat if possible. I had to watch out for the flight attendants, but most of the time we were able to stretch that way without worrying about intruding on anyone else’s space.
Breastfeeding positions: It would have helped a lot if we had worked on a vertical breastfeeding position, like the saddle hold (pictured here) before our trip.
Maximum Real Estate -
Because of the two issues above, my ultimate breastfeeding tip would be to purchase a seat for baby if your budget at all allows it. Even if baby’s seat is mostly being occupied by a car seat, it will give you a bit of extra space and privacy, since you won’t have anyone else sitting next to you. Believe me, the reduction in stress that will give you will be worth the price tag!
Have you breastfed on an airplane before? Did you cover or not? How did the people around you react? Do you have any survival tips of your own?
Don’t forget to join me next week to talk about flying with cloth diapers! And if you like what you see here, we’d love for you to let us know by commenting, and following us via Google Friend Connect and/or Network Blogs in the right-hand sidebar. Thanks, fellow Sisters!
I loved this post from Sustainable Mothering about what to do if you see a woman breastfeeding on a plane