The Short of It
A working mom was forced to throw out two weeks' worth of breast milk before she could board a plane at the airport, and she's speaking out.
Mom Jessica Coakley Martinez was traveling through London Heathrow Airport for work, when aviation security forced her to dump 500 ounces of pumped breast milk. They informed her that while her milk was frozen, it "might at some future time become a liquid," which violates the Civil Aviation rule.
Martinez then took to Facebook to voice her frustration: "I normally would not post something this personal, but I do not remember the last time I felt so justly upset," she began in what she titled: "An Open Letter to Aviation Security in Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport."
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"Being a working mother is the hardest thing I've ever done. Trying to manage the logistics of drop-offs and pick-ups and conference calls and meetings and finding the time and energy to make sure both your family and work are getting ample amounts of your care and attention is both challenging and fulfilling, but mostly extremely exhausting and stressful," she explained. "When you're fortunate enough as I am to have a job that involves travel, it's an exciting opportunity, but it comes with even more extreme challenges when you have kids – being away from them, managing care back home from afar, and in my case, figuring out how you're going to feed your 8 month old breastfed baby while you're required to be away for 15 days and travel to eight different cities."
Martinez had hoped to exclusively breastfeed her second son for a year, but ended up having to supplement with formula when she couldn't pump enough to feed him while she was away.
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"To help ease the personal guilt, I resolved to pump at every possible moment between my meetings, presentations, business lunches and dinners, taxis, flights, and long waits in airports," she continued. "This meant pumping while sitting on toilets in public restrooms; stuffed in an airplane bathroom; in unsecured conference rooms, showers, and closets because certain office spaces didn't have a place for a nursing mother – and then dealing with the humiliation when a custodial employee accidentally walked in on me. It meant having to talk about my personal matters (my nursing schedule) with my professional coworkers and my supervisor in order to sneak away to said closet or public bathroom – a discomfort I had to learn how to swallow if I was to supply my son with breast milk. It meant going to each hotel and convincing them to store my giant insulated bags of milk in their restaurant freezers to preserve it. It meant lugging this giant block of frozen breast milk through four countries, airports and security checkpoints and having them pull out every single ounce of breastmilk and use mildly inappropriate sign language to convey "breast" and "milk" so that they would let me through. Which they did. Every one of them. Except you. You made me dump nearly 500 oz of breastmilk in the trash. You made me dump out nearly two weeks worth of food for my son. [sic]"
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Obviously, airport security is important, particularly in this day and age. But c'mon! We're talking about a mom trying to bring food home for her baby!
Or as Martinez put it: "This wasn't some rare bottle of wine or luxury perfume I was trying to negotiate as a carry on. This was deeply personal. This was my son's health and nourishment."
I think maybe it's time they rethink their policies there, don't you?
To read Martinez's amazing letter in it's entirety, click here.