Mom says that she was told to breastfeed in airplane bathroom and people are furious
Last week, a woman took to Twitter in order to call out Air Canada for their treatment of her as a breastfeeding mother. Stephanie VandenBerg, a physician, claims that she was told she would have to move to the bathroom on an aeroplane if she attempted to breastfeed her baby, sparking outrage across the social media platform.
@AirCanada: It is never okay to recommend a woman breastfeed her infant in an airplane lavatory," she wrote. "Nor would I like to be referred to your medical line to discuss this further. If you would like to eat your dinner there, by all means, but my infant son will not be joining you."
The tweet has since gone viral, garnering over 2,800 retweets and 15,000 likes.
VandenBerg had not actually taken a flight, but had called Air Canada in advance in order to make arrangements for flying with her newborn son. During the conversation with an airline representative, she was apparently told that she would be required to move to the bathroom if and when she needed to breastfeed her baby.
Within hours of sending the tweet, the new mother was greeted with a wave of support from other Twitter users who assured her that Air Canada was in the wrong.
"@AirCanada The right to breastfeed in public is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," explained one user. "It is also explicitly spelled out in the Human Rights Code of ON and BC. Until you train your employees properly, you are at risk of a lawsuit."
Eventually, a Twitter representative for Air Canada came forward and said that - contrary to what VandenBerg had been told over the phone - she would be allowed to feed her son in her assigned seat. "Hi Stephanie, we can confirm we support breastfeeding onboard our aircraft and you are welcome to nurse your baby wherever you feel comfortable onboard," they wrote.
However, other social media users weren't impressed with the rebuttal, and said that the airline should put more care into informing all its staff of its policies about breastfeeding.
"Cool cool cool, maybe you can make it crystal clear to your employees, since it seems like many of them don’t know this?" said one person. "Also, support or not, it’s a legally recognized act so....you gotta either way."
"I believe she just confirmed you don't support breastfeeding on board and that she wasn't welcomed to nurse whereever [sic] she wanted. So you might want to retract your statement until you have a) apologised and b) sent an urgent reminder to all of your staff," another concerned person added.
The post also prompted discussions from other parents who had been told to "cover up" or go to the bathroom while trying to feed their children in public.
"That is awful! I'm so sorry that happened to you. At Costco once, I asked if there was somewhere I could sit to nurse my daughter and was pointed to the bathroom," said one mother. "I asked to speak to a manager and he set up us up in their boardroom."
On this occasion, the issue was resolved before it became something bigger, but it still highlights the ignorance surrounding people's rights to breastfeed in public spaces - and that's something that needs to be rectified.