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


mama’s milk rocks!

and here’s 10 reasons why:

  1. The Qur’an: It describes a complete nursing period as 2 years (although extended nursing beyond that is permissible according to the scholars of fiqh). Thus, a mama gets reward from Allah for nursing!
  2. It’s free: ’nuff said.
  3. Sheer laziness: I hardly remember to pack Abdullah’s diapers when we go out, much less milk bottles. And did I mention that I hate doing dishes?
  4. Nutrition? No worries: it’s a multivitamin, power protein shake, and extra energy boost all in one. When toddlers start eating less and becoming more picky about food (often after age one) sometimes Pediasure is recommended…but if you are nursing, you’ve got free Pediasure minus the crapola in there, and always available straight at the tap!
  5. Adapts to baby: After the first year of life, breastmilk increases up to about 50% in fat content! Another great reason to keep at it after that first year.
  6. Booboo cures: When Abdullah gets a knock on the head (from falling of course, not from us ­čśë ) I tell him that I’m going to give him “dudu dava”, or milky medicine. A couple of gulps down the line and the booboo is forgotten!
  7. Tantrums: Abdullah’s not at this stage yet but I hear from others that nursing makes a great distraction for a todder in the throes of a raging tantrum.
  8. Bonding time: These days Abdullah thinks he’s too cool for babyish cuddling. He wants to just give a hug and run, or a peck on our cheeks before he squirms out of grasp to run off to his toys or jump around. He doesn’t even like to be carried in a sling for too long anymore. That leaves nursing as pretty much the only remaining cuddle/bonding tool at my disposal.
  9. Sick-time cures: Mama’s milk has got electrolytes galore for rehydrating sick babies. And it’s a great nasal decongestant (spray it up the nose) for stuffy noses.
  10. Distraction: Keeps baby still for medical procedures, nail cuttings, anything uncomfortable and irritating (I found this quite handy during a recent middle of the night ER visit).