Traveling with a child is never easy, but flying without your baby when they are still nursing presents an entirely separate set of difficulties.
A breastfeeding mom painstakingly pumps and stores her milk in order to ensure that her baby can continue to drink breast milk — and so she can maintain her supply — when they are apart. Although there are regulations for nursing moms to fly with pumped milk, many airports haven't been following these rules simply because TSA workers aren't aware. They are, instead, forcing moms to throw out their hard-earned milk.
Currently there are laws protecting a breastfeeding mom's right to transport breast milk as well as any necessary equipment on an airplane. According to the Transportation Security Administration, "Formula, breast milk, and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag . . . You do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk."
Although this exemption is in place to protect parents, there are still issues with compliance. "There have been too many instances reported by parents that TSA officials either didn't know or simply refused to follow these exemptions," Republican House Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler said on the House floor.
Since so many moms have experienced difficulties transporting breast milk — even as they follow the set rules — the House's new law the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Act was enacted to help rectify the problem by requiring that TSA employees receive proper training in order to uphold these breast milk regulations.
"Parents who are trying to follow these rules are consistently singled out for harassment-like scrutiny by the TSA," Herrera-Beutler said. "This has led to breast milk being forcibly tossed out, equipment being broken, and flights missed."
Yet there are still cases of breastfeeding moms being harassed or having to stand their grounds to those who are unclear about their right to fly with breast milk. For those who are going to be traveling, this is what you are legally entitled to, even if you're told otherwise, according to the TSA:
- Formula, breast milk, and juice for little ones are permitted through the security checkpoint.
- Inform the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that you have more than 3.4 ounces of formula, breast milk, or juice in your carry-on bag.
- You must remove the liquid from your carry-on bag and have it screened separately from the rest of your items.
- Officers may need to test liquids. They might ask you to open the container and have you transfer "a small quantity" of the liquid to a separate container or dispose of it. However, you can tell the TSA officer if you don't want it to be X-rayed or opened, and they have additional steps that they can take to clear the liquid.
- Accessories required to chill formula or breast milk, including ice packs, freezer packs, and frozen gel packs, are allowed in carry-on. If they start to melt and are only partially frozen, they are subject to the same screening as the breast milk or formula.