She says she's sharing her story to save other mothers from being put through the same experience.

By Andrea Romano
January 24, 2018
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Woman breastfeeds baby
Credit: Steve Debenport/Getty Images

New moms are often faced with the difficult job of finding a safe and comfortable space to breastfeed their baby or use a breast pump while traveling.

Many moms do their utmost to find a private space in order to avoid the judgment they often receive when they have to do this necessary task in public.

A breastfeeding mom at Heathrow Airport who was using her breast pump in a private, locked bathroom says she was shamed by airport staff after they had told her it was one of the only spaces available for her.

According to The Independent, journalist Sophie McBain asked staff for a private space to feed her 10-month-old baby before catching a flight to New York. Employees pointed her towards a baby changing room, but she also found a private bathroom that she could lock.

While McBain was using her breast pump, according to her tweets, a male employee unlocked the door and interrupted her. McBain wrote that she did not hear a knock before the employee did this.

After entering the bathroom, McBain said the employee reprimanded her.

“A male attendant unlocked the door on me, and while my bare breast was still inserted in my pump he told me next time I should leave the door unlocked or pump outside in the main terminal,” McBain wrote, adding, “Could he not wait until I was unplugged and [dressed]? Can breastfeeding women not have a room to pump undisturbed & in private?”

McBain said she wasn’t too upset about the experience, but was sharing it because she did not want other women to go through the same thing.

Heathrow Airport responded to her complaint, saying, “Having a male bathroom attendant is normal practise and if he had not heard any response from requests to enter he would of thought that someone might have locked this from the outside as a prank.”

The statement, which glaringly does not include an apology, also stated that the employee was not “entirely at fault” and claimed he gave warning — despite McBain’s claims she did not hear a knock.

“To explain why I was upset I compared it to someone bursting in on your [sic] while you are on the toilet and then calmly telling you, while your pants are still round your ankles, that you are hogging the public bathroom. Also, sticking your breasts into an electric breast pump is so undignified looking I don't even like it when my husband sees me doing it. Why would I want strangers to see this?” McBain told The Independent in response to Heathrow’s statement.

McBain, not wanting an employee to get in trouble, stands on grounds that this problem is systemic and the solution lies with airport policy. “No thought has been given to breastfeeding travelers, we have no space to pump/BF in private & staff have clearly received no training,” she said.

Heathrow Airport has since issued an apology following its initial statement, saying: “We apologise for Ms McBain’s experience on her recent journey through Heathrow – in our efforts to keep the changing area safe, we fell short in ensuring she had a comfortable experience at our airport.”