A Michigan mom is speaking out after she was denied entry into an Ariana Grande concert while carrying a breast pump.
Kate Aulette took to Facebook to share her frustration after a recent night out with her friends to see Grande perform in concert at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Mich.
Aulette, who is a working mom of two, said she relies on her breast pump when she is away from her 7-month-old.
Ahead of the concert, Aulette performed her due diligence after learning that Grande’s tour has upped security as a result of the 2017 Manchester bombing which killed 22 people, and left 59 injured.
In an Instagram post, Grande announced that for her Sweetener/Thank U, Next world tour, security measures would be “super strict.”
As a result, all concertgoers would only be permitted to bring clear plastic bags into the venue.
“As a breastfeeding mom, I immediately thought, how am I going to fit my breast pump (I had to be able to pumps since I was not bringing my baby with me to the concert) in a clear plastic bag and was this even an allowable device,” Aulette wrote.
On the Wednesday before the concert, Aulete called the venue and inquired about her breast pump. Guest Services assured her she would be allowed to bring the pump, as it was considered a medical device, but she would be subjected to a security search.
“I was absolutely OK with this,” she said. “In all honesty it’s not my favourite thing to bring with me places, but I gotta do what I gotta do to keep my baby fed and myself from getting engorged which can cause a whole lot of medical problems.”
On the day of the concert, Aulette and her group of friends travelled an hour by party bus to the concert.
“We live about an hour outside of Detroit and knew I would need to pump at least once from the time I last fed baby to the time we got back home which was 8 hours (5 p.m. - 1 a.m.),” she explained.
Despite calling ahead, Aulette was denied entry with the breast pump.
“Get up to security and I explain that my bag is a breast pump and I start emptying it out for them to search,” Aulette said. “They search everything, all my parts etc. and proceed to tell me no, it’s not a medical device and refuse to let me in.”
During her conversation with security, her friends had been scanned into the venue, and were not permitted reentry to go and help her.
“I asked for a manager and an older gentleman comes and I explain the whole thing again, and his response to me was that I was not allowed to bring this device in unless I had my baby with me. Are you kidding me? The whole reason I have to bring my pump is because I don’t have my baby,” she wrote.
Aulette was denied entry again, and asked to speak to a supervisor and plead her case.
“I was livid,” she recalled. “They told me my only option was to check my pump into Guest Service over at another venue (Commercia Park) and that if I left to use my pump I would not be readmitted into the venue. Again are you kidding me?”
Aulette was forced to walk nearly a mile by herself back to her party bus, where she was able to express milk and store her pump.
“If I would have known ahead of time that I would not be allowed to bring my pump I would have made other arrangements to pump - maybe before going in and leaving my pump on the bus,” she said of the ordeal. “Either way with being away from my baby for 8 hours I was going to need to pump… It wasn’t right that I was turned away with my pump, it’s something that I need to carry with me when I am not with my baby.”
Aulette says she shared her story to advocate for breastfeeding moms.
“I am so sad that there are uneducated people in this world who do not understand the uses of a breast pump. I hope no one ever gets treated or turned away like I did for wanted to ensure my baby has milk,” she said. “I was trying to have a fun night with my husband and friends (which as a parent happens not often) only to have to endure someone telling me that I can’t bring my pump because I don’t have my baby with me.”
After her post was shared more than 300 times, Aulette was contacted by the concert venue, who offered their apologies for the mishap.
“They were embarrassed and their facility is equipped for nursing/pumping mothers,” Aulette said. “They offered to make it right and bring me back but for me it wasn’t about that. All I asked is that they have better communication between all staff members and to be educated on breastfeeding and pumping so another fellow momma doesn’t have to go through this.”