Emily Calandrelli shared an upsetting experience she had as a breastfeeding mom at LAX — and the story has struck a chord with so many other women. The new mom and host of Netflix’s Emily’s Wonder Lab took to Twitter to recount a back-and-forth she had with TSA agents over her breastfeeding necessities.
“Yesterday was my 1st trip away from my 10wk old son, who I’m currently breastfeeding. I’m going through security at LAX. I brought my pump and 2 ice packs – only 1 of which was cold (I won’t need the other until I come home, when I’ll have more milk),” Calandrelli wrote.
She had been planning to get a pumping session in before her roughly five hour flight. Two male TSA agents told Calandrelli that she couldn’t bring her ice packs through security because they weren’t frozen solid. She asked to speak to someone else and was given the same rundown by another male TSA agent.
“He said ‘if you had milk on you, this wouldn’t be a problem,’” Calandrelli recalled. “He asked (*multiple times*) ‘well WHERE is the baby.’ He said if my child was with me, it wouldn’t be an issue.” When Calandrelli asked to speak to a female agent, who she hoped might better understand, she was told they would not allow it. She was then reportedly escorted out of line and forced to check her ice packs. One of the TSA agents allegedly scolded her, saying: “Don’t try to sneak it back through a second time, we’ll just make you toss it out.”
Later, Calandrelli determined that TSA does allow gel ice packs, even if they are fully frozen, for medically necessary reasons.
“Yesterday I was humiliated that I had to explain to 3 grown men that my breasts still produce milk when I’m not with my child,” Calandrelli wrote. “Yesterday I was embarrassed telling them about my fear of mastitis if I didn’t pump. Today I’m furious.”
Moms flooded the comment section to offer their support for Calandrelli and recall their own experiences of being a breastfeeding mom going through TSA.
“I support you, Emily,” one person wrote. “I’m a mom. Been there, done that. This is a medical issue. If a nursing mother is prevent from expressing milk on a timely basis, this can result in plugged ducts, which can result in a excessive, dangerous, very painful breast infection.” Another added: “I had my baby with me, I was juggling a stroller, baby, etc through security. They made me sit in a room for a half hour while they bomb checked my infant formula. We missed the flight and we had to spend the night in the Denver airport.”
This incident shines a light on the painful encounters breastfeeding moms run into out in the world. This week alone, Brianna Terry, a new mom in Michigan, told Fox 2 that she didn’t have a proper place to pump when she returned to work. “[My supervisor] said, ‘You could just do it in the bathroom.’ I am like when you are breastfeeding your child that is their food, this is her steak dinner. Would you eat your steak dinner in the bathroom?” Terry said. She was also reportedly harassed for breastfeeding in the first place at work and told: “Pumping doesn’t take that long; you are milking the clock.”
It is so important that people in authority — from TSA agents to supervisors — understand the cut and dry necessities that come along with breastfeeding and start treating new moms with respect, understanding and dignity.
SheKnows reached out to TSA and Emily Calandrelli for comment.
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