Netflix host Emily Calandrelli calls for clearer TSA breastfeeding policies after security delay

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Traveling with young children can be difficult for any parent, and ever-changing airport security policies can make it even more difficult.

Emily Calandrelli, host of 2020’s “Emily’s Wonder Lab” on Netflixwants clearer breastfeeding policies from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) so that breastfeeding mothers can travel with breastfeeding equipment without being delayed by security, according to multiple reports.

“Here’s what happened. Yesterday was my first trip away from my tenth [week] old son, who I am currently breastfeeding. I’m going through security at LAX. I brought my breast pump and 2 ice packs, only one of which was cold (I won’t need the other until I get home, when I have more milk), “the 34-year-old wrote on Twitter on May 10.

“I had no milk at the time, but I was planning on having a last second pumping [session] before my flight of about 5 hours. “

It was the first time that the West Virginia The native was away from her 10-week-old baby, so she was hoping to pump before leaving for a DC flight, according to the Washington Post.

But because one ice pack was semi-frozen and another was at room temperature, the TSA officer informed her that she was breaching the liquid rulewhich states, “Each passenger can carry liquids, gels and aerosols in 3.4-ounce or 100-milliliter travel containers. Each passenger is limited to one quarter-gallon bag of liquids, gels and aerosols.”


The TSA agent told her she should either throw away the ice packs or check them with her bags, according to the Post.

“Two TSA agents told me I couldn’t bring my ice packs [because] they weren’t frozen (this is the key part of the story), “the mother wrote on Twitter.

The TSA has a separate rule for the gel ice pack, which states, “Frozen liquid items are allowed through the checkpoint as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If the frozen liquid items are partially melted, muddy, or have of the liquid at the bottom of the container, must meet the requirements of 3-1-1 liquids. “

But the TSA has an exception for gel ice packs, stating, “Note that medically necessary gel ice packs in reasonable quantities are allowed regardless of their physical state of matter (e.g., melted or muddy). Please notify the TSA officer at the checkpoint for inspection. “

Calandrelli eventually decided to check her ice packs with her bags and pump when she landed at Dulles International Airport, from the Post Office.

“As I was leaving, the coach said: ‘And don’t try to sneak a second time because this will happen again,’” Calandrelli told the Post. “It just wasn’t a fun way to be treated.”

Passengers queue to pass through the northern security checkpoint on Monday, January 3, 2022, in the main terminal of Denver International Airport in Denver.
(AP Photo / David Zalubowski))

The TSA then apologized to Calandrelli last Wednesday after looking into his case.

“The screening process he received unfortunately did not meet our standards,” said TSA spokesperson R. Carter Langston.

“We will continue to engage with advocacy and community-based organizations improve our screening protocols. Additionally, we will double our training to ensure that our screening procedures are applied consistently. “

The incident also galvanized Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) Into action. Twitterwho wrote, “I will personally speak with the TSA administrator about what happened to you and how we can help ensure it doesn’t happen to you or other women in the future. Again, I’m very sorry.”

Typically, if a nursing mother is about to walk away from her baby, the body needs to be reminded to keep producing milk, so she should try to pump the milk as often as the baby drinks at the breast, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This usually means that a mother traveling without her baby will have to check out the airtime at least once during the journey, considering the time to and from the airport, the time needed for security clearance and the actual time while it’s up in the air, said Jennifer Horne, a lactation consultant with the Lactation Network, which connects mothers with breastfeeding support.

Mothers who are unable to pump while traveling may start to experience breast discomfort and their breasts can swell leading to clogged milk ducts, which could eventually cause an infection called mastitis, she added.


“Our bodies are made to express milk regularly,” Horne said. “There are definitely some problems they can run into if they aren’t doing it.”

If pumping is not an option when a nursing mother is away from her baby, the CDC suggests “hand expression”.

“To pump manually, you use your hand to massage and squeeze the breast to remove the milk. While it takes practice, skill and coordination, it gets easier over time,” the agency said.

Horne also advises nursing mothers travelling bring a bag of frozen peas instead of ice packs as they are not liquid.

The bipartisan bill known as the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) AcIt was approved in 2018 requiring all large and medium-sized airports to provide accessible, clean, private rooms in each terminal for nursing mothers, as well as changing tables in men’s and women’s restrooms.

And in 2016, the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Act (BABES Act) went into law, under which TSA officers must undergo specific training regarding breast milk policies, formulas and equipment for breastfeeding. infant feeding, according to a Press release.


But Calandrelli said current policies are insufficient to protect breastfeeding mothers who travel, asking the TSA to “classify and clearly state on its website that breast milk, formula, and related breast pumping equipment they are considered “medically necessary”.

“I want President Biden to order Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the Homeland Security Department to prevent the TSA from discriminating against traveling mothers.”