This Working Mom's Response to the Security Who Confiscated Her Breast Milk is Going Viral

April 23rd 2016

Lucy Tiven

After Heathrow Airport security made Jessica Coakley Martinez dump out two weeks worth of breast milk this week, she recounted the humiliating, frustrating experience in a viral Facebook post. Martinez slammed the airport's treatment of her and shared the straining balancing act of being a working mother.

"You made me dump nearly 500 oz of breast milk in the trash. You made me dump out nearly two weeks worth of food for my son," she wrote. Martinez explained that the airport marked her breast milk as a "non compliant" item, refused to allow her to check it, and answered her "begging, pleading and even crying out of sheer shock and desperation for a solution" with little compassion or sensitivity.

"It was as if you were almost proud to deny me at every possible point of compromise," she recounted candidly.

Why Martinez's breast milk was tossed.

The UK's Civil Aviation rule mandates that women cannot travel with breast milk unless they have their children with them on the flight.

"You do not allow breast milk on the plane if the mother is not traveling with her baby – a regulation in and of itself that is incredibly unfair and exclusionary in consideration of all of the other working mothers like me who are required at certain times to spend time away from their baby, but intend to continue to breastfeed them," Martinez wrote.

Her breast milk was also frozen, and had met the standards of numerous other airports, according to her. She pointed out that these regulations are often neglected, so the airport's choice to be so harsh on her seemed somewhat arbitrary.

Martinez defended her position as a working mother.

Martinez, who frequently travels for work, pointed out that being committed to her professional life and nursing her children meant she often had to sacrifice her privacy and comfort.

"Being a working mother and ensuring both my job and my child get exactly what they need is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but you managed to make it nearly impossible in a single afternoon," she wrote.

But she was willing to endure those difficulties in order to provide food for her son.

"This 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 on me," she confessed.

Martinez continued, "It meant lugging this giant block of frozen breast milk through four countries, airports and security checkpoints and having them pull out every single ounce of breast milk and use mildly inappropriate sign language to convey "breast" and "milk" so that they would let me through. Which they did. Every one of them. Except you."

The airport's action also meant she would have to spend money buying formula to replace the hard-earned breast milk she was forced to abandon at the terminal.

"This wasn’t some rare bottle of wine or luxury perfume I was trying to negotiate as a carry on," she said. "This was deeply personal. This was my son’s health and nourishment. This was the money I would now need to spend buying formula that wasn’t necessary."

This isn't the first time flying and breast milk clashed.

Last year, actress Alyssa Milano's breast milk was also confiscated at Heathrow Airport.

Milano expanded on her tweet on TwitLonger:

"I would have happily spread milk in different containers (which I travel with) to comply to those liquid rules. Instead, milk was taken away with no discussion. Shampoo, lotions, etcetera were simply tested and handed back with no issue. Makes no sense at all."

In 2015, Delta airlines refused to let Texas mother Vanessa Kasten Urango take her breast milk in dry ice on a flight. The airline said she would have to pay $150 to check the cooler, but there was no space for it — despite the fact that she had contacted Delta in advance and followed the airline's explicit instructions. Urango posted on Facebook about the incident, and after the post went the airline apologized and gave her $150.

But it's getting better.

Recently, Delta has been far more accommodating to mothers of infants, and gave a Georgia mother of triplets an empty first class seat so she could breastfeed her children in private.

You can read Martinez's full post on her Facebook page.