Nursing lounge in National Airport

I just flew into Washington, D.C. today, at Reagan National Airport. So after getting off the plane, I discovered something…they have a “Nursing Lounge”! Kudos to them. But wait, guess where the flippin’ nursing lounge is located?

In the bathroom!

Umm, let me get this straight. You want me to come feed my son in a claustrophobically small little area while all around me echo the sounds and smells of foul bodily functions? Come again?

Scratch that kudos…jeers to you, Reagan National Airport. Nursing mothers deserve a bit more courtesy. How about making that stall just outside the bathroom but in the same general area? How about having it actually fulfill the purpose of a nursing lounge by providing a quiet, comfortable place for mothers to nurse? As it is, not only is it in a dirty place, but it is loud and poorly designed–one hard bench and a changing table. As Muslims, we are furthermore taught not to dwell too long in bathrooms, for being places of excrement, urine, and other filth, they are places of congregation for the jinn (an oftentimes satanic creation from fire).

As far as nursing lounges go, fortunately I haven’t had too much of a need for them so far, since wearing large hijabs make it easy to nurse discreetly and minimize distractions. A sling is also useful for this purpose. Yet Abdullah goes through these times where he absolutely will not nurse when there are too many things to see and hear. And sometimes a mama just wants to let her guard down and nurse however, without covering up, without worrying about people staring and gaping. As a Muslimah modesty is a priority for me so I would appreciate such a lounge for those times. Otherwise I can and have made do just well, alhamdulillah.

So what then is the deal with this foolishly designed lounge? It’s totally impractical, and to be honest, offensive. It bespeaks the fact that we do not have a breastfeeding friendly culture. Nursing is such an important need for infants and yet no proper provisions are made for mothers who make the choice to do it? “Breast is Best,” they say, but then where’s the support for it? Where is the culture that encourages it and facilitates it?

When the designers of aforesaid nursing lounge are ready to take their sandwiches in that small stall amid the echoes of flushing and eat their lunch, I will be ready to take my son in there to feed him his food. Until then, I’ll just stick with my lovely hijabs and slings and and feed him anywhere and everywhere, thankyouverymuch. ­čśë


2 thoughts on “Nursing lounge in National Airport

  1. When I started reading your post, one specific comment sprung to mind, so I decided to add my thoughts when I’d reached the end. Before I got to that point, you stated PRECISELY what I was thinking in the final paragraph – how would these people feel if we asked them to eat THEIR meal in the bathroom, by the side of a toilet??

    This makes me quite angry. More and more research each year demonstrates unequivocally just how important breastfeeding is to the health of a baby and, as a progression of that, to the health of each nation. Consequently we’re told how ‘breast is best’ and that exclusive breastfeeding is the very best thing we can do to give a good start to our little ones…but this all stays firmly in the realm of the theoretical when there is so little ACTUAL support for the whole concept.

    What are people afraid of? Have we really reached the point in Western societies where women are so objectified, and breasts seen so exclusively as the domain of the marital bed, that we can’t see breastfeeding for the beautiful, natural, NORMAL thing that it is? It’s just a baby having its lunch, for goodness’ sake! The only thing that’s obscene, offensive or objectionable about it is the way that perfectly discreet and nurturing breastfeeding mothers are asked to hide themselves away in a corner. What are we so afraid of?

    Sorry for the diatribe…I’ve just come away from a social forum where pictures of breastfeeding mothers (perfectly discreet and respectable ones, too!) have been banned as ‘obscene and offensive’, while pictures of bikini-clad teenagers – far more revealing – are apparently perfectly acceptable. So I’m a little more ‘fired up’ than usual!

    Hope you and your beautiful little one are well and happy.


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