I am a breastfeeding mother and I am shocked and dismayed to hear about an event which happened in a Bristol cafe recently. Kelly Schaecher a local breastfeeding mother was breastfeeding in The Park Cafe at the bottom of Park Street in Bristol when she was asked to move because she was being impolite! Whilst there she advised another mother that she would be asked to sit in the corner if she wanted to breastfeed. Then after leaving the cafe a woman pulled her car over and screamed at Kelly to ”Never f….ing come to her cafe again and get her tits out and don’t tell other people not to come here”.
Obviously I have only heard one side of this story but I’m sure you will agree that this is unacceptable. In fact it is more than unacceptable it is against the law to treat a breastfeeding woman this way. The Equality Act, which came into force in October 2010, states that as a breastfeeding mother;
“You are protected in public places such as parks, sports and leisure facilities, public buildings and when using public transport such as buses, trains and planes. You are protected in shops, public, restaurants and hotels regardless of how big or small. You are also protected in places like hospitals, theatres, cinemas and petrol stations.”
So basically this cafe has broken the law. Unfortunately for the cafe’s owners, the mother concerned has organised a protest. Tomorrow I will be joining other breastfeeding mothers for a breastfeeding sit in and outside the cafe concerned. The Cafe is The Park Cafe and the mothers are meeting at 11.30 am.
What concerns me the most about this is that this might not be an isolated incident. Luckily this mother is not a new mother and coped well with the situation. What if this had happened to a new mother. Or a mother not confident feeding in public ? That kind of situation could have shaken confidence and potentially ended a breastfeeding relationship. So because a small minded person felt uncomfortable, a baby could be denied breast milk and the comfort of a mothers breast.
Don’t misunderstand it’s not that I consider formula feeding bad, I formula fed my eldest child, its more about a woman’s choice. If a woman wants to breastfeed then they need support. Support from a partner and family and friends and support from the public in general that it is ok for them to breastfeed wherever and whenever it is needed. Otherwise mums either give up breastfeeding or end up isolated and lonely for fear of leaving the house and being out whilst baby needs a feed.
Breastfeeding in public has become more and more accepted even since I started parenting, but the fight is not over. It’s up to mothers to continue to refuse to be made to sit in the corner, to speak up when they have a bad experience. Hopefully by the time those breastfed baby girls are feeding their own babies, the idea that a woman could be ostracised for breastfeeding will be as ridiculous as a woman not having the right to vote is to us now.
To support this idea here is a photo of me tandem breastfeeding because even though I am extremely shy about the fact that I tandem feed I shouldn’t be. So judge me if you like but I’m just following my maternal instinct and my children’s lead.