Mum breastfeeding baby in cafe told by fellow customer: ‘You’re putting me off my teacake’
- Credit: Archant
Nikki Davis couldn’t believe the snide remark as she was accused of being part of the ‘mammary brigade’ – this is how she responded.
Breastfeeding - any place, any time- should be the most normal and natural thing in the world.
But at times it is turned into an issue that mothers are forced to defend, despite evidence showing it gives babies the best start in life.
Nikki Davis, from Essex, mother to 10-week-old Dulcie, found herself in this position when a fellow cafe customer at Mistley Park Place petting zoo snidely remarked that her and her mum group were “the mammary brigade” and were “putting me off my teacake”.
This distressed Mrs Davis, 32, who decided to tell the woman how it made her feel when she spotted her outside.
But the female customer responded that she found it “offensive” and the mums should feed their babies “in the toilet”.
Mrs Davis, from Lawford, who had been using a cloth to cover up, said: “I cannot change her opinion and the world’s, but if you have got an opinion like that keep it to yourself.
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“I’m still going to continue breastfeeding, but it has made me more cautious in public. There’s been so many positive comments from people in the area, including on the Manningtree Shout Out Facebook group, I feel like I would be supported.”
She said by more people breastfeeding, it would become normalised and, hopefully, such reactions would become a thing of the past.
Read Liz Nice’s opinion piece on why breastfeeding makes the news.
Why breast is best
Businesses in Suffolk have been registering as ‘breastfeeding friendly’ as part of an initiative to make mothers feel more comfortable.
Public Health Suffolk launched the campaign earlier this year as part of its ambition for Suffolk to be a breastfeeding-friendly county.
Latest figures show 47% of Suffolk mums were still breastfeeding at their six to eight week check and 35% of mothers had stopped by this point.
A new myth-busting guide by Public Health Suffolk highlights some of the benefits of breastfeeding, including the antibodies babies get to help protect them from infection and the longer a mother does it the less likely she is to develop breast or ovarian cancers.
Abdul Razaq, director for Public Health and Protection, said: “Our vision is for Suffolk to be a breastfeeding-friendly county, where mothers can feed their babies in public without feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome. It’s fantastic that a large number of businesses in Suffolk have already signed up as Breastfeeding Friendly, placing ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ signs in windows and doors. If you can support a breastfeeding mum, you are doing something amazing. Becoming a parent can bring all sorts of new challenges, so we should all do our bit to make mum’s life easier. Show your support by signing up to become a ‘Breast Friend’.”
Yolanda Acopt, manager of Cool Beanz cafe in Ipswich, which has registered as breastfeeding friendly, said: “Everyone is entitled to feed their children naturally. It’s the most healthy thing for the baby. Women should feel comfortable and it shouldn’t be frowned upon. They should be able to do it anywhere.” Businesses can click here to download their virtual badge and share it with pride with friends on social media. Businesses can sign up here and get their stickers.
Suffolk mums and mums-to-be can download the ‘Bloomin’ honest guide to breastfeeding’ here.
Our mums share their breastfeeding experiences
Sarah Mole, 31, a charity worker from Beyton. Mum to Annabel, aged 20 months
“Since having my own baby my views on breastfeeding have changed.
After lots of research I was surprised to find that both the NHS and the World Health Organisation recommend breastfeeding for at least two years because of how far reaching the benefits are. They go way beyond what I ever expected!
“I definitely don’t believe in shaming mothers who can’t breastfeed or choose not to (parenthood has enough challenges as it is!), but I do think that as a society we need to be more informed about it and that support needs to be more readily available to mothers who want to feed. That support needs to come from professionals (I was blessed with a well-informed midwife for a mother-in-law who helped in the early days) and from others.
“Despite the fact I’m doing something completely natural and medically recommended (particularly as my daughter has had some tummy problems), since my little one turned one I’ve been told by a friend that what I’m doing is ‘disgusting’, I’ve been asked to feed in a public toilet and I’ve had numerous people tell me bottle feeding would now be more appropriate.
“Such experiences are at best unhelpful, at worst upsetting and, in my opinion completely disrespectful to both me and my child’s needs. I would never dream of being so rude to someone for formula feeding.
“I have also had positive comments about breastfeeding.”
Melissa Claydon, 39, a community staff nurse, from Bury St Edmunds. Mum to Daisy, Barney and Lucie-Rose
“I struggled to breastfeed Daisy (now 13). There was no support and her weight plummeted towards the 0.4th centile.
“Stress levels were already at a ridiculous level. And then I attempted to feed my screaming baby in a busy restaurant.
“There were no tables at the edge so I was forced to the middle of the floor. A man who was opposite watched me with a disgusted look on his face.
“He stated that I should feed ‘it’ in the toilets because it was disgusting and was putting him off his dinner. I was distraught.
“This in turn affected Daisy’s feed and it wasn’t long after that I felt forced to switch to formula feeding.
“I really hope that new mums’ confidence is a bit more empowered these days. I can’t think of anything more beautifully natural than to feed your child and give it the best start it could possibly have. I went on to breastfeed all three of the children.”
Lindsey Sanford, 35, from Newmarket. Mum to Toby, aged two and a half, and Ted, aged six months
“I’ve only ever experienced positive responses when breastfeeding in public in Suffolk.
“I’ve got a breastfeeding apron that I wear so I can be discreet and it works well for me, baby Ted who is six months old and everyone else around me.
“Cafes in Newmarket are fantastic. In Waitrose recently the cafe staff checked I was ok and brought me glasses of water to keep me hydrated. Little gestures like that mean so much and mean I can relax - the most important thing when you’re trying to feed a baby!
“It’s tough being a mum - there’s so many pressures on us physically and emotionally that we should all support each other and that includes breastfeeding in public.
“I’m a member of the amazing Newmarket Breastfeeding Support Group on Facebook which meets weekly as well as offering online support. I don’t think I’d have got this far if it hadn’t been for the group which is run voluntarily by local mums.”