“How is it anyone else’s concern if there is somewhere for you to change or breastfeed your baby in public? Why is it anyone else’s responsibility to help you when you are pregnant or a new mother?….Why do you want sympathy?”
That’s an email I got — from a woman — when I had the audacity to complain recently that a three-hour Delta Airlines flight should provide a place for me to change my infant’s dirty diaper. And that an airport should have a space for me to pump breast milk that is not a disgusting bathroom floor or fancy airline lounge that costs me $50 to access.
See, the air travel industry hasn’t figured out that humans come out of women, and when they are very little, that these tiny humans can’t use toilets.
Instead, we parents — both on leisure and business travel — are told to change our babies in our seats, or on a toilet seat. We beg the flight attendants to give us the privilege of changing babies on dirty galley floors. Sometimes, they say “no.” Meanwhile, planes are being fitted with wi-fi.
That’s why I started a petition asking Delta Airlines, the worst offender, to put changing tables on all their planes. Any parent who’s had a number two explosion at 30,000 feet knows what a nightmare it is not to have a place to clean it up. The flight attendant I spoke during my fateful flight with told me the plane was too old to have a changing table. I guess Delta hasn’t figured out that babies preceded the invention of the airplane.
As parents, we’re always trying to quiet our kids and minimize the inconvenience to others. For all the money we pay to fly, we should at least be able to do it without fearing for ourselves, our kid, and the guy in the aisle seat.
Guest contributor Rachel Simmons is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator, Rachel works internationally to reduce bullying and empower girls and young women. Rachel is a Vassar graduate and Rhodes Scholar from New York and is the co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute. She is an experienced curriculum writer and educator who works with schools and organizations around the world. She currently develops leadership programs for undergraduate women at the Center for Work and Life at Smith College.