A breastfeeding mother is upset after a male attendant at the Heathrow Airport walked in on her pumping in the baby changing room, PEOPLE reports.
Freelance journalist Jessie McBain said that she was traveling without her baby and needed a private place to pump her excess breastmilk while at the Heathrow Airport. Staff directed her to the baby changing room since the airport does not have places specifically for breastfeeding, but as she was in the middle of pumping, McBain says that a male attendant walked in on her and began lecturing her.
He lectured me about how I should leave the door unlocked or pump outside. I felt so exposed and embarrassed. Could a female staff member not be sent? Could he not wait until I was unplugged and undressed? Can breastfeeding women not have a room to pump Undisturbed & in private?— Sophie McBain (@SEMcBain) January 21, 2018
“I used it, feeling a bit bad to be occupying the room for 20mins but. I was really uncomfortable and needed to do this. I didn’t hear someone knock, & after they were kept waiting they asked a staff member to unlock the door for them,” McBain wrote on Twitter.
“A male attendant came, unlocked the door and while I was still attached to a machine with my breasts out. He lectured me about how I should leave the door unlocked or pump outside. I felt so exposed and embarrassed. Could a female staff member not be sent? Could he not wait until I was unplugged and undressed? Can breastfeeding women not have a room to pump Undisturbed & in private?” she added.
McBain filed a complaint, but on Monday said that she had received an “excuse-filled, non-apology” from the airport.
While McBain is upset about what had happened, she clarified that she wasn’t trying to get anyone in trouble and that the incident presented an example of “a systematic problem.”
But I made clear I didn’t want to get anyone into trouble, this wasn’t about one staff member. It’s a systemic problem. No thought has been given to breastfeeding travelers, we have no space to pump/BF in private & staff have clearly received no training— Sophie McBain (@SEMcBain) January 22, 2018
“No thought has been given to breastfeeding travelers, we have no space to pump/BF in private & staff have clearly received no training,” she wrote in another tweet.
On Wednesday, McBain received a second response from the Heathrow airport.
Victory (of sorts)! An apology from @HeathrowAirport & while they are not committing to anything, they have said they will look into the issue. Will keep following up - surely it can’t be so hard to find space for us to pump or nurse in private. Thanks for all the support! pic.twitter.com/gaRYhGILmX— Sophie McBain (@SEMcBain) January 24, 2018
“In terms of requirement for a separate nursing room, we currently only offer our baby-changing facilities for this purpose, and so I do appreciate your comments regarding providing a separate space for nursing mothers that does not impact the need of other parents to utilize the baby-changing facilities,” Heathrow Airport wrote. “I have contacted the terminal management team around how we can look to provide an additional private and comfortable area for passengers to express milk and nurse infants in addition to our current baby-changing facilities.”
While the response isn’t exactly what McBain had been hoping for, she is hopeful that the airport will take her advice and create a space exclusively for mothers to pump of nurse in private.