Recently, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta excitedly made an announcement that, “The world’s busiest airport has opened four ‘lactation pods’ for nursing mothers on its concourses, and plans to open a nursing room in the domestic terminal.” USA Today continues by saying, “New mothers said they find the lactation stations a big improvement over public restrooms, which used to be the only option for nursing moms at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.”
I am a working mother of three young children, all of whom I nursed. I nursed my children at home, at state parks, in restaurants, on benches at Disney, and, yes, even in airports and on the airplane. I did not run and hide in a “lactation pod” to nurse; rather, when my child was hungry I stopped, sat down (though not always) wherever I was, and nursed him/her.
I traveled on business and I had to pump and transport breast milk. Pumping in an airport bathroom was not pleasant, nor ideal, and I am thankful that Hartsfield-Jackson now has a place where women can comfortably pump in a sanitary place.
However, I am offended that it is publicized that these “lactation pods” were created as a place for women to nurse their children.
The airport has obviously not yet updated its website, since under “Nursing locations” the following is written: “Customers can use any of the Airport’s family restrooms on Concourse F for nursing.” Pre-pods, a woman needed to go and hide, in a dirty bathroom, in order to feed her child? Legally, that is simply not true. According to Title 31, Chapter 1, Article 1 of the Georgia Code, “The breast-feeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which should be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health. A mother may breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.”
I understand that some women don’t feel comfortable nursing in public (which is a shame, not for the women, but on our society, which doesn’t think twice about men running shirtless in the hot summer but shuns nursing women, even when you can’t see their breasts), but for the busiest airport in the United States to specifically refer to “nursing locations” is offensive (and is blatantly contrary to the law in the State of Georgia).
I think that it is great that women now have a place to comfortably pump breast milk (as I wish that I did). And I hope that it will be easier for women to transport breast milk as well (when I did that, back in 2011, I was treated by airport staff like I was carrying a hazardous substance). However, I do hope that all airports in the United States, including Hartsfield-Jackson, make it abundantly clear that women are allowed, and even encouraged, to nurse wherever they desire, and wherever is easiest for them (including the “pods,” which do look like a comfy place to be), since, to my knowledge, women and their children are still “authorized to be” in airports.