A breastfeeding mother has taken to Facebook to vent her upset and anger over being made to dump ‘over 500oz’ of milk at Heathrow Airport’s security.
In a public Facebook post, mum-of-two Jessica Coakley Martinez explains in detail how she was made to give up the breast milk she had pumped and frozen to supply her eight-month-old son with, which accounted for two week’s worth of food while she was travelling.
Jessica starts the post by explaining that she’s a working mum, and that this comes with challenges. She wrote, ‘Being a working mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Trying to manage the logistics of drop-offs and pick-ups and conference calls and meetings and finding the time and energy to make sure both your family and work are getting ample amounts of your care and attention is both challenging and fulfilling, but mostly extremely exhausting and stressful.’
Continuing, she also explains the logistical complications of being a working mum who travels, and also happens to breastfeed.
In the complaint she details how she pumped and froze milk for months on end to make sure every time she travelled her little boy would have the breast milk he needed. She explains that she pumped at every possible moment, which ‘meant pumping while sitting on toilets in public restrooms; stuffed in an airplane bathroom; in unsecured conference rooms, showers, and closets because certain office spaces didn’t have a place for a nursing mother – and then dealing with the humiliation when a custodial employee accidentally walked in.’
In her post Jessica revealed that having travelled significantly since she began breastfeeding she has never before been made to give up any of her pre-pumped and frozen breast milk.
Heathrow Airport’s security team did not allowed Jessica to travel with her milk because it could become a liquid, to which the mum of two said, ‘by its very definition, a liquid is ‘not a gas or a solid.’ And since the milk was frozen, it was by all technical definitions a solid, so I had no reason to believe that it wouldn’t meet your standards, as it had met the non-liquid standards of dozens of airports around the world on so many of my previous trips, including four in the past week alone.
‘I offered to check it,’ Jessica continued. ‘But that wouldn’t work either according to you because I had crossed the border and the only way for me to check the bag now was to exit the airport and re-enter – which I was also willing to do.
‘But you wouldn’t give me the milk back – because now it was a “non-compliant item” and needed to be confiscated. It was as if you were almost proud to deny me at every possible point of compromise. Despite my begging, pleading and even crying out of sheer shock and desperation for a solution (which you essentially scoffed at with annoyance), you treated me as if I was trying to smuggle.’
Addressing the security officers she dealt with Jessica went on to explain, ‘This wasn’t tomorrow’s milk; it was two weeks worth of nutrition for my child. And it was the countless hours of my time, my energy, even my dignity in some instances, all driven by my willingness to go to any length to get my child what he needs that you dumped into the trash like a random bottle of travel shampoo.’
The post has been shared over 4000 times with many other mothers supporting Jessica through an influx of positive comments.
Heathrow Airport responded to Jessica’s open letter, saying ‘Hi Jessica, please could you message us with contact details so that we can get in touch with you directly to discuss this? Thank you.’
What are the laws on travelling with breast milk?
According to gov.uk and Heathrow’s guidelines you are allowed to:
Both advise that these exceptions are only made when you are travelling with a baby, so a mother on her own would not be able to carry liquids over 100ml. This also applies to frozen liquids, and they warn that you are only allowed to carry what you need for your journey. Another rule they call out is that breast milk should not be transferred in a flask, to help with security screening.
You should expect to have your liquids screened at security, which includes any breast milk.