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Originally published June 13 2015

New mom outraged after LA airport workers direct her to pump breast milk in janitor's closet

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) With nowhere to pump her breast milk during a recent trip through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), a new mother from Texas says she was ultimately directed into a grubby janitor's closet, the only private space, apparently, where she could quietly get food for her newborn baby.

Hayley Picchini recalls being "mortified" at the lack of sanitary spaces at LAX. Airport workers, she says, didn't even know where the facility's only nursing mothers' room was located -- it turns out the space is in Terminal 5 -- so she jockeyed around until finally ending up in a crowded custodian's room next to a mop bucket and chemical cleaning supplies.

"I was scared," Picchini told CBS Los Angeles. "I didn't want to do anything that would endanger my baby."

After first arriving at LAX, Picchini says she spotted signage leading to the mothers' area, but that it seemed to lead nowhere. When she inquired about the space to airport workers, one told her it was located in Terminal 7, and another claimed it was in Terminal 6. They were both wrong, it turns out, and yet another worker told her instead to use "a less busy area in between terminals."

"That's like someone telling you that you should sit and have a bowel movement, covered of course, in the middle of two gates where people can see you," added Picchini to CBS Los Angeles.

Feeling uncomfortable at this suggestion, Picchini instead purchased a pass into the United Airlines lounge for $50, which she hoped would be more private. But not long after getting comfortable near a power outlet and proceeding to pump, Picchini says workers advised her to head down the hall to the janitor's closet.

Legislators propose requiring all commercial airports to provide nursing mother rooms in every terminal

Under California law set to go into effect in 2016, all major Golden State airports will be required to provide private rooms replete with comfortable chairs, electric outlets and sinks for nursing mothers. LAX currently has one such space, with two more slated to open later in the summer. Until then, mothers like Picchini will have to suffer during air travel.

"It happens every single day, and for a nursing mom every three to four hours a day," she explained to the media about how breast pumping works. "It can't really wait."

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recognizes the right of mothers to travel with breast pumps and breast milk, regardless of whether or not they are traveling with their children. But it is up to airports to provide private sanitary spaces for mothers to use such equipment.

"Finding a clean and private space to breastfeed or pump breast milk in an airport can be burdensome and stressful, if not impossible," said U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who recently introduced the Friendly Airports for Mothers, or FAM, Act, which would require all commercial airports across the country to provide private lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers in every terminal.

"It's not uncommon for moms to be directed to a bathroom. We would never ask our fellow travelers to eat their meals in bathrooms [sic] stalls, yet we ask new mothers to feed their children while sitting on a toilet seat."

If nursing mothers don't pump their milk every few hours, the consequences could include everything from minor discomfort and leaking to inflammation and infection. A survey conducted last fall found that, among 100 U.S. airports surveyed, 62 reported being "breastfeeding-friendly," but only eight of them actually have private lactation rooms that meet minimum standards.

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