Any mom who ‘s pumped breast milk for a baby will tell you that every ounce pumped is a labor of love. But it’s labor nonetheless, and it can honestly feel like a downright nuisance sometimes. Pumping isn’t always convenient or comfortable, and I’d be hard pressed to find a breastfeeding mom out there who actually enjoys having her boobs hooked up to a pump for hours at a time.
Still, millions of mothers do it, whether they need to be separated from their babies for a few hours, a day of work, or a weekend away. Why? Because they’re badass and love their babies to pieces, that’s why.
Katie Langan, a 33-year-old mom from the Netherlands, is just that kind of mom. According to SWNS, Langan had recently spent five days away in London with friends. That meant a long absence from her 1-year-old daughter Layla — and a lot of extra time spent pumping so her daughter would have breast milk upon her return.
Langan painstakingly pumped breast milk 2-3 times each day she was away, which in total equaled 10 bags of pumped milk, with around 80 ml in each bag. (That’s a little more than 2.5 ounces per bag.)
But on New Year’s Day, when Langan arrived at Heathrow airport in London to fly back home, she was promptly told that she wouldn’t be able to bring her pumped milk on the plane. The mom allegedly offered to check the milk in with her baggage — and even offered to pay an extra baggage fee, but her pleas were denied and the pumped milk was confiscated.
Doesn’t this story just make your blood boil? As you can imagine, the whole ordeal was totally traumatic for the poor mom.
“I was absolutely horrified by the guy’s reaction,” Langan told SWNS. “I was quite creative in thinking up solutions and thought of a few different ways that I could get around it,” she explained.
The idea that she was going to lose her pumped milk — and so much of it — was upsetting enough, but having to defend herself to someone who was less than sympathetic made it that much more upsetting. “I was embarrassed and humiliated,” said Langan. “I had to explain about my breastfeeding to a man.”
Not only that, but all Langan wanted was to get home to her sweet baby, whom she’d been doing all of this for in the first place.
“It was either stand there and argue with him or miss my flight, which I didn’t want to do because I had been away from my baby,” she shared, adding that she now fears traveling away from her daughter in the future, and the prospect that she might not be able to bring pumped milk home for her.
The Mirror reports that Langan hasn’t had this issue at other airports in Europe, and questioned why it was different at Heathrow. According to Heathrow Airport’s security FAQ’s, there is a limit of 100 ml of pumped milk that moms can carry onto a plane. Langan had reached that limit, but it’s unclear why the mom was not given the option to transport the excess amount in a checked bag.
When reached for comment Friday, a spokesperson for Heathrow issued the following response via email:
“We do appreciate that this has been a frustrating experience for Ms Langan and we always regret causing inconvenience. However, the aviation security regulations on liquids mandated by the Department for Transport are clear and publicly available on our website. They are there to protect the traveling public and Heathrow has a legal obligation to enforce them.
“In the UK, passengers traveling with their babies are allowed to bring through a reasonable amount of breast milk and baby food outside of their normal 100 mil liquid allowance. When traveling without your child, the restriction limits apply without exception. Passengers wishing to transport in excess of that are welcome to do so in their hold luggage.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time mothers have reported issues traveling with breast milk at Heathrow. Two years ago, actress Alyssa Milano had a famous spat with the airport about their unwillingness to let her transport pumped milk for her daughter. And last year, a mom named Jessica Martinez was forced to give up a whopping 500 pounces of breast milk at Heathrow.
In happier news, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration has clear regulations in place protecting a mother’s right to freely transport her pumped milk in American airports. And just a few months ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Breast and Bottles Equipment Screen Act to ensure that the TSA employees are well aware of these rights and never force a mother to dump her pumped milk unnecessarily.
It sounds like Heathrow Airport could take a line from that book. But meanwhile, at least moms like Langan are speaking out about the injustices they have faced — and will hopefully urge policy makers to change their regulations as a result.