Mother's breast milk thrown into garbage


From Thursday's Globe and Mail

June 5, 2008 at 5:16 AM EDT

VANCOUVER Nina Brewer-Davis stood in tears at Vancouver International Airport's security checkpoint Tuesday morning as she watched a guard throw 1 litres of her breast milk in the garbage.

Security staff told her she couldn't bring it on the plane unless she had her baby with her, Ms. Brewer-Davis said. But according to Transport Canada regulations, she should have been able to keep at least some of the milk.

The 31-year-old California mother said she was away from her child for 51 hours while at an academic conference, during which time she pumped breast milk every three hours. Having to throw out the milk she planned to bring home to her baby felt "violating," she said.

"I don't think I'd realized quite how important it was to me until that moment," she said.

"It represents the mother's connection to her baby and this rule fails to recognize the importance of what pumped milk represents. ... Forcing me to throw out the milk represents more than an inconvenience: It devalues this connection between me and my baby."

She said the breast milk filled 10 bags ranging from 60 millilitres to 180 millilitres. She had about 1 litres in total, and was carrying it in a cooler.

"I was very upset. ... It represented a lot of work and a lot of time and it was something that was very important for me to bring back to my baby."

She said it's absurd to prohibit nursing mothers without their children from bringing breast milk on a plane, because if they had their baby with them they wouldn't need to carry breast milk around. Being without the milk meant she didn't have the supply she hoped to have when she got home.

"I expected to come home and have lots of milk for the rest of the week because I still have to work when I get home," she said. "I mean, she's not going hungry or anything, but we don't have any wiggle room."

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority spokesman Mathieu Larocque said breast milk is subject to the same regulations as any other liquids, gels or aerosols. The restrictions have been in place since August, 2006, in the wake of the failed bombing attempts at Heathrow Airport in London, where 24 people were arrested in a plot to detonate liquid explosives on passenger aircraft.

In Canada, passengers can bring containers of 100 millilitres or less as long as all the containers fit in a one-litre, resealable plastic bag. Baby food, formula, milk, water and juice are exempt from the restrictions if the passenger is travelling with a baby two years old or younger.

Mr. Larocque said he doesn't have any details about the incident, but a passenger in that situation should have been able to keep all the containers that were 100 millilitres or under and fit inside a one-litre bag that security staff would have given her.

"She would have been allowed to keep her one-litre resealable bag and the containers of 100 millilitres or less in that one-litre bag," he said.

Ms. Brewer-Davis said security staff didn't mention size restrictions or tell her she could keep some of the milk. "They said it would have to be thrown out without looking at the containers or the quantity," she said, adding that she called CATSA afterward to complain.


Commentary in the Globe and Mail


You (Ottawa Mens, from Ottawa, Canada) wrote: The security guard's actions in not allowing her to retain any of the pumped milk at first sounds like he or she showed a lack of empathy and sensitivity.

There are two sides to this story.
It "generally" takes a long time to pump 1 1/2 liters of breast milk, that quantity sounds like it was pumped over a quite a few hours, the article makes no mention as to if the milk was refrigerated or frozen, one would assume not. Just what Airline would put a passenger's breast milk in the galley refrigerator, you know, carefully separated from the milk for the passengers, let alone put any food from any passenger in the galley fridge.

Odds are most of that 1.5 liters of breast milk had probably been unrefrigerated too long and was unlikely to be used.

With the time frame involved, since mother was going to see the child, and the fact that she was producing so much milk, the child was not going to miss out.

Lets face it, the mother was pumping her breasts most probably because they were "full" and "needed to be pumped".

Now if the security guard was a nursing mother herself, would she buy the story that there was a baby, that could not be seen, and the mother had 1.5 liters? thats enough to fill 3/4 of a two liter pop bottle? Would you want a passenger bringing on board such a suspicious looking container that if true was probably full of stale old breast milk when unaccompanied by an infant?

It sounds like