‘Be more discreet while breastfeeding baby’, I am told

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This morning I was told by a group of fellow diners in my favourite vegetarian cafe that the sight of my breastfeeding was unpleasant. It is just another example of the warped attitude towards public nursing this nation has.

After a swimming session, me and my 4 month old grabbed a late breakfast at Wai kika moo kau. The staff are friendly, the food is good and I always feel comfortable enough to feed there. As the table next to me were leaving, a woman from the group of five adults, ranging in ages from about mid-40s to late 70s, spoke to me. “It was very unpleasant watching you feed, you should have been more discreet.”. I snapped out of my state of shock to retort, “It’s illegal to prevent a mother from feeding in a public place, I have every right to be here”, to which she replied, “I’m saying you should have covered up more, we could see everything.” I was aghast “It’s the most natural thing in the world to feed a child and I think I have been discreet.” I said, pointing at the pocket I had made among my layers to pop my JJ cup breast out. At this point all five of them joined in to ‘tell me off’, disputing the fact I was being discreet. The only male in the group remarked, “Most women use a towel to cover themselves, you should have used a towel.” This only left me feeling more desperate. I realised they weren’t going to listen, they wanted to put me in my place. The staff were busy elsewhere but thankfully a wonderful gentleman came to my rescue, helping me argue my point. He saw them off, standing at the cafe door shouting “You should get in the 21st century!”. Bravo.

I burst into tears. Firstly because it was just me and baby, I felt extremely vulnerable, despite the support of another customer. I had been publicly bullied, plain and simple. Secondly, I had already had a challenging week balancing life with toddler and baby, this tipped me over the edge. With my first child I was terrified, like many women. Being of ample bosom makes it slightly worse, as I can’t help but give people a 10 second viewing of flesh in order to feed. The woman who led the attack must have honestly only got a flash viewing of my nipple when Boo decided to pull herself off. I’m happy to admit that before I had children, I was uncomfortable with seeing it but just put that down to my social conditioning and opened my mind. Now I’m on the other side of the fence, living the life of a mum with a baby, I see how essential and perfectly natural it is to feed your child wherever and whenever you can. I prefer to cover up while feeding, I often throw a muslin over, or wear layers from which I can pop the nipple out (which was my attire this morning). What is so ‘unpleasant’ about seeing breasts being used exactly the way nature intended? What a warped society we have manufactured in the western world. We tolerate the dangerously young glamour girls on Page 3, which I’m sure some people browse while they are eating. Why is that not unpleasant? Would this group have found that offensive, if I’d been flicking through Nuts or FHM at the table in plain view? Would they have said anything if it did? Realistically not.

This isn’t the first story of its kind but I want to make it among the last. In the last few months I have heard tales of mums being asked to stop feeding by staff in public swimming pools and Churchill Square McDonalds. Thankfully Wai kika moo kau are supportive of feeding mothers and the manager was quick to tell me the customers were out of order and I’m most welcome. Our topic drifted towards the law, he didn’t realise it was not legal to prevent a mother from feeding in public, so it was comforting their supportive attitudes are genuine, not just from the fear of being sued. Knowing I was protected legally, gave me enough confidence to stand my ground, five against one, no less. Women are not obliged by law to be ‘discreet’ or cover up either. Some of us choose to do so through personal choice, although now I’m beginning to wonder what is the point.

I’m in a fighting mood but I won’t be rioting, just using my keyboard and social media for moral support. As a backlash to this attitude I’m organising a Breastfeeding Flash Mob Thursday 15th December. Details are here.

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About Author

Founder and co-editor of BrightonMums.com, Claire has been blogging since 2009. She has posted on a variety of sites including The Argus, The Huffington Post and The Guardian's Comment Is Free. Known as The Contented Mummy on social media, she is dedicated to honest, unsponsored blogging so that parents can benefit from shared experience. Can also be found at www.fitfaband40.co.uk - sharing her journey to health & wellness.

104 Comments

  1. I breastfed for years in Brighton, mainly Infinity Cafe but also the one you were verbally attacked in – I am shocked as this is a very ‘un-brighton’ attitude. I think you handled yourself superbly, it is easy to become very angry and lose your rag with people but you only fuel their own sense of self importance by giving them the benefit. Tears are good, they show you are a human being, and if I had been there I would have calmly told them to leave if it offended them so much, and then given you a nice big Brighton warm hug. Don’t let this intimidate you at all, Brighton is a wonderful place full of women who support you xxx

    • Thanks so much for your comments. Despite what I went on to achieve by way of protest, it’s knocked the wind out of me slightly. But hasn’t stopped me!

  2. How horrid, I’m so sorry to hear that this happened to you. I have suffered from this sort of discrimination too and have started a campaign myself, to get cafe owners to commit to protecting bf mothers. One way in which they can do this is by displaying a window sticker of the international bf logo- I award them to cafes that are bf-friendly enough. Good on you for flash mobbing- wish I could have been there.
    All the best
    Zion
    http://www.mammasforvictory.blogspot.com

  3. I have also had a bad experience I had a very hungry screaming baby and asked a manager in a branch of Peacocks if they would mind me using the changing rooms for a few moments, bearing in mind the shop was empty and they had 3 changing rooms free. I was told a flat NO in the middle of November I did not think sitting on the bench outside to be pleasant for my 3 week old baby. I had her by c section and was one of the first time I had gone out alone, unable to drive and not wanting to talk to anyone, i walked home crying to my mums with a screaming baby who wanted feeding. not a nice experience!

  4. Pingback: The new flashmob – breastfeeding mothers come out into the open | Claire Jones-Hughes | Public Health

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  6. it is a shame that I don’t breastfeed anymore otherwise i would be there with you all in Brighton as only 10 miles away. good luck

  7. Not that shocked to be honest, but absolutely feel for you. After 20 yrs of breastfeeding my children ranging from 20 yrs to 19 mths old, it truly saddens me that some ignorant people do not ‘Get it’ especially when other women are concerned, but we all know what they fed their babies on!! This reminds me of a time in the mid nineties in Plymouth, a woman was told to leave a certain department store cafe whilst breastfeeding her baby. A few days later myself and a lot of breastfeeding mothers decided to have a “Feed in” in order to prove that ‘we’ where not going away and be bullied into being invisible.

    I breast fed my baby in my retail premises whilst the public bought goods off me whilst i used the till one handed. guess what? No derogatory comments. Maybe it was fact that it was my business and if they did not approve they could go elsewhere.

    My point is unless all public places and businesses take a stand and say out loud that they will not tolerate this behaviour of bullying and confrontation then this discrimination will carry on. This would not happen in scandinavian countries, why are we letting it happen here. The only thing i am shocked about is, is that it took place in a vegetarian cafe.

  8. I am incensed by the narrow minded attitude of people regarding breast feeding. My wife breastfed our daughter(now 27 and in Brighton)for nearly a year. Often in public but always protecting her modesty as much as possible(from prying male eyes out for a cheap thrill). One incident springs immediately to mind when a woman(it nearly always was a woman)told my wife to “do that in the toilet”.My response was that if she joined my wife in the toilet and ate her lunch there with her I would be quite happy to hold the door open for her.
    Breasts may be entertaining for us men but their primary function is to lactate upon childbirth. Some can do it, others cannot. But if my daughter needed feeding, then that’s what happened. And to those that are offended by it, don’t look or go somewhwere else to eat. The toilet perhaps?

  9. Still shocked by this in Brighton – but alas not the only story. Just heard tell of a bus driver (on route 5) yesterday morning asking a mother to stop breastfeeding because of 2 complaints from other passengers. The driver was told it was illegal as the witness was getting off the bus, but he just concentrated on passengers getting on. Appalling. they’ll be writing an email of complaint to bus company but I really hope he is driving past the clocktower at 1pm on Thursday. I’ll be there with little Maxie, Claire. Hope it makes people think.

    • I love it how bus drivers won’t intervene to make people give up their seat for a 9 months pregnant woman (me) but take time to tell a woman to stop feeding!

  10. Mari Portslade on

    I read this article last night and was so angry about the reaction from other diners. Well done Wai Kika Moo Kau staff.
    My children are now in the 30s and in the late 19070s I breastfed each of them in cafes, halls, restaurants, park benches etc. I never had any comments apart from being asked once if I would like to go to the ladies loo. I replied that I would when I need to use the loo.
    Why is breastfeeding still an issue for some people? I believe that page 3 girls and ‘glamour models’ (why glamour?) may have a lot to do with it.

    I support your protest and hope that the media gives it sensible reporting.

  11. Pingback: Brighton Breastfeed Flash Mob – get the frustration of breastfeeding discrimination off your chest | Mother.Wife.Me

  12. Hey Claire, our lovely mutual friend Rosie mentioned this post to me. Am so sorry you had such a rubbish experience. It sounds to me like there were 5 tits in that restaurant – and none of them were the milk producing variety. I breastfed my daughter until she was 14 months and was always v. discreet, as you are, so I would have been equally mortified at such a rude and unkind reaction.

    Honestly, the world and his wife bang on about how more women should be breastfeeding their children, but it would seem that we are only meant to do it under cover of our own houses or in darkened corners away from easily offended eyeballers.

    Good luck with the flash mob – loving the play on words there – I am going to mention it on my blog and have tweeted it out for you. Hope you make a few of the ‘appalled from Brighton’ brigade keel over.

    • Thanks, I just read your post and it made me really proud. We really need the support of people in the community and beyond. Many people still think the flash mob is ‘pointless’ (and in this weather it may end up being!) but I strongly believe it’s the right stand to take. Thanks for your support.

  13. How awful for you mama, if they were so damn offended they didn’t have to look!! They had necks didn’t they?! I can’t believe a group of adults would be so cruel as to bully a mother sat with a young baby. I hope you said something to manager so they can be banned from the place!

  14. So Sorry to hear about this terrible experience, but could luck with your protest. My mother in law told me that in her day, (1950s and 1960′s) she had to go home to breastfeed, as it was totally unacceptable to do it outside. What a shame these women have not been able to move with the times, and are still stuck in the dark ages!

  15. Claire I have just been aghast reading about your experience it made my blood boil grrrrrr do sorry you had to have the misfortune to encounter these total idiots. I have BF all 3 of my children and am doing my 7 month old currently and will do so wherever and whenever is necessary. Sadly I live in Leeds or would be at your event in a flash! With you in spirit good luck Vicki x

  16. I don’t know you, but you have my support. I can’t come and feed either of my kids as we’re way past the breastfeeding stage, but I fed my youngest until she gave up on her own at age 2. We fed wherever we were and had nothing but positive comments and support, from total strangers and from friends and family.
    Breasts are for feeding children, end of. Yours are clearly excellent at performing their intended function! Be proud!

  17. I can’t believe what I have just read, made me angry, it is hard enough working up the courage to do it in the first place. A friend pointed me to your story and I am in Melbourne, Australia and want to say that if I was there on the 15th and with a bubs still bfeeding I would join you! I will be supporting you in spirit!

  18. I read that open mouthed!! I cannot believe people think they have the right to say such things!!! What an awful thing to happen!
    I only wish i had a baby to breast feed to join your ‘mob’ !!
    Good on you – and everyone who joins you!
    x

  19. How awful for you :( but very well done for standing up for yourself. I cannot believe that people don’t have better things to do than stare at people feeding and then make them feel bad about it. It must be a lack of education and understanding that make people so small minded.

    Would be delighted to support in any way I can (3 kids permitting!).

    All the best (and keep up the good work not putting up with any nonsense! ;) )

    xxx

  20. THat is so awful. I can sometimes feel people staring when I’m feeding my son out and about. I was so embarressed to do it with my first baby, and it made my day-to-day options quite difficult. But I feel more confident to do it this time. And as you say, it is the ONLY reason we have boobs and is the most natural thing in the world. It must have been an awful experience for you x

    • Thanks Lisa. These people didn’t object to my public feeding but more that I didn’t cover up enough. Which with what I was wearing is near on impossible to cover up more! I will be wearing what I wore during the incident on Thursday but that’s not the point! thanks for your support. :-)

  21. Poor you! But good for standing up for yourself and how nice of that guy to help you out. I agree totally, what if you were looking at a magazine of people with various body parts sticking out, they wouldn’t have said anything then! Argh, this society!

  22. Your story has made me livid! I will definately be joining you and have sent the link onto 12 other breast feeding mums in Brighton and posted on Facebook. I heard a similar story about a lady who was told off by the manager in prince regent swimming pool for breast feeding. I’ve been waiting for something like this to kick off so I can lend my support. I would happily help organise and publicise if you need help? Maybe we could publicise at breastfeeding clinics, playgroups, mumsnet, twitter, Facebook. Are you close to announcing a date and time? It might be easier to recruit mums if they can put a date in the diary. Good on you and thank you for thinking of this – with you all the way!

  23. Well done you for sticking your ground and hurrah to the guy who came along to support you and for the management. Hope that party aren’t allowed to dine there again. I passed this blog to friends of mine in the USA, and Brenda, my friend who is a hugh advocate of breatfeeding put up a great photo on her page of breast feeding babies with their middle finger sticking up at any complainers! One of the things I regret about being childless is not having breastfed a baby. You have my full support – don’t let the ignorant people get you down. Take care. x

  24. Laura Precious on

    Very shocked that this happened to you in Brighton and in the lovely Wai Kika Moo Kau, though guess they cannot vet their customers! Interesting the point about being protected by the law, unfortunately, I think this is only for babies up to six months. Obviously most people commenting on this are pro breastfeeding but I would urge people to read the fabulous “The Politics of Breastfeeding- why breasts are bad for business” by Gabrielle Palmer which will leave you in no doubt whatsover that breastfeeding is the right thing and also sheds light on the attitudes of previous generations to breastfeeding. I gave my oldest boy formula as well as breast milk from about 9 months and was going to do the same with my younger boy but after reading this book it’s going to be breast milk all the way! Hope I can make it to the flash mob.

    • I haven’t read the book but know of it. I may take it up now!! Thanks for your support. I think it’s vital we show solidarity for those who have no option but to feed while out & about.

  25. Marion Batterbee on

    Claire,
    I have no other feelings but disgust about the attitude of these people. Who do they think they are, and what gives them the right to bully you about THE most natural choice of infant feeding. I feel so angry at these people, and am just so glad that there are strong willed people like you that will not let people like this get away with this disgusting attitude!!! Good on you for making a stand. They have no right to upset you about doing the best thing a mother can do for their child. Did they breastfeed their children….. most likely not, and could be a factor of guilt in theit actions. I really want to join your flashmob, and will do my very best to get from here in the Midlands to join if I can, but if not, for any reason, I really wish you all the best. I am still feeding my 20 month old, and have never really met such attitude, but believe me, the day I do is the day I really stand up for what I believe. Hugs to you and your baby – keep up the good work xxx

  26. So sorry to hear that you’ve had such a negative experience – I can’t believe that people can be so ignorant. I would definitely be up for the flashmob – I think the more frequently BF is seen in public, the more natural people will realise it is and hopefully more mums will be able to do it comfortably. This society completely sexualises breasts – on the contrary I was in a restaurant in quite a conservative Muslim country, with men eating at tables near me, and the waitress told me to just go ahead and feed my 8-month-old at the table. If a place where people cover their hair and there’s not a miniskirt in sight manages to see breastfeeding as natural and non-sexual, surely we can do the same here??!!

  27. Hi there I an TOTALLY up for the flash mob plan! (accidentally typed TITALLY by accident! A Freudian slip?!) I’m very un-discreet when feeding! My sons won’t stay under a muzzy while I try to feed him! Somewhat similarly a group of us with 5-6 month old babies were toldrecently we were talking up too much room in a cafe when our buggies weren’t inhibiting anyone from using any other seats in cafe that we weren’t sitting at! And again 2 other older women joined in, agreeing we were in the way when LOTS of seats were unoccupied! What is it about older women who should know better being so unsupportive?!

    • TITTALLY! love it. I’ve heard stories like yours too & am fed up with being sidelined as a mum. What are we supposed to do? Stay indoors till the baby is 3 years old?

  28. I find it sad some people can’t cope with the most natural thing in the world. I wish you well with the flash mob and will try and come along with a video camera.

  29. Poor you, you have my total support, i breastfed both mine wherever but happily never had a problem, or maybe I was oblivious! I did use a loose weave shawl which shielded me without obscuring my view but so what, there is so much gratuitous, highly sexual nudity these I can’t believe anyone has the nerve to complain about such a normal activity, and why focus on a breastfeeding Mum and ignore or the naked muffin tops wobbling around out there!? How awful that they made you cry too, I am outraged on your behalf, but I know you won’t let a handful of idiots stop you. The only unpleasant thing in this whole scenario is their nasty attitudes. xxx

  30. I’m in shock reading this. I am so sorry you had to go through that, it’s truly disgusting. You were doing what is best for your baby, it shouldn’t matter if it makes other people uncomfortable or not, your baby’s well-being is far more important.

    Breastfeeding can be tough enough as it is, I found it to be quite an emotional roller coaster, I think I would have been crushed if this had happened to me. I’m at least glad that these people seem to be in the minority but it should never have happened, and to gang up on you five to one like that, it’s just pathetic.

    Good on you for doing what’s best for your baby and a big thank you to the man who stepped in to help.

    • The irony is, I had problems feeding my first, so never enjoyed public feeding as it could be a battle with breast. My second daughter is a dream to feed and despite the hormone swings (which are very hard to manage some days) I feel utterly empowered as a woman & mother. I couldn’t be happier. I was going to feed to 6 months and then put it behind me, but I have effectively been pushed off the fence!

  31. What an awful experience! I don’t know what I would have done or said in that situation. Even if people have their narrow minded opinions, they should keep them to themselves. I am still feeding my 12 month old, but luckily have never experienced such terrible behaviour. I will come along to show my support on 15th! Like others have said what are boobs for?! xx

  32. Poor you!!!! On your own too, I bet if you had been in a group they wouldn’t have said anything. I breast fed my son for nearly two years and luckily never had any issues. I used to feed him anywhere, especially on the bus home after a busy day! This was in Birmingham and I’ll always remember an old gent staring across at me in what I thought was a dissaproving way on the bus one day, when it was his time to get off the bus he stopped and said how lovely it was to see a young lady breastfeeding and how he wished his wife had had the oppertunity to feed their sons out and about when they were young. I was a very young mum, and not very sure of myself, if anyone had been mean to me about breast feeding in public I would have been nervous about doing it again.

    • Wow. What a lovely story & kind gentleman. We need more people like that to boost the confidence of feeding mums. Maybe we should start a positive awareness campaign! Encourage people to champion publicly feeding mums everywhere.

  33. You poor thing, and how utterly ignorant those people were. Take no notice, but feel good that you’re doing such a great thing for your baby. I’m a breastfeeding peer supporter living in Cumbria so am not local to you at all but am sending support from up north. People have such weird attitudes – if you look at MTV, the videos are basically soft porn and no-one seems to mind, but people have a problem with breastfeeding – so strange.
    I breastfed my eldest daughter until she was 2 (and intend to do the same with my youngest, now 4 months) but I did feel apprehensive about feeding a toddler in public. All the more reason to do it though to try to educate people! Good luck with your flash mob – I’ll be there in spirit!

    • It’s great to have support from other parts of the country. Plus our youngest daughters are similar in age! (don’t they grow fast?). Brighton is generally tolerant but I have heard too many of these types of tales recently & have just about had enough! Thanks so much.

  34. When we were expecting our first baby, one of the ante-natal classes was about breastfeeding. One of the women at the class said “Ew, I’m not letting a baby ruin my boobs. That’s not what they’re for.”
    The last 150 years seems to have completely distorted society’s attitude to humans being humans, but I’m so pleased to see we’re starting to shift back towards healthy body image, including breastfeeding. The action of those women in the restaurant shows that just because you’re women doesn’t mean you’re all on the same side. If there is an “us” vs “them”, it’s the tolerant vs the intolerant, the closed minds vs the open minds, the loving vs the selfish.

    • Really great to hear from a gentleman on issue! Our society is very strange, were ultra liberal on some things but still very Victorian with our attitude to kids & our bodies. Time we caught up on all accounts!

  35. Very very happy to support you on this – and am really really sorry that this has happened to you! Please post on The Mumpreneurs Networking Club page whenever you want – as you will find lots of support there! Sending you a virtual hug and virtual galaxy bar!

  36. I never witnessed bad attitude when I was breastfeeding, maybe because I feel it’s so natural that I don’t have fear, but I thought about your situation and thought I would need to transmute anger into compassion because it is so sad these people have fallen so low in the illusion that we are separate and that boobs are for sex, they forgot nature made them for feeding the drink of love, and that if most men nowadays go crazy for them it’s because they have been deprived as children because of stupid commercial fashion of unhealthy powdered cow milk (our babies are not manufactured veals!)…For more understanding please read “The drinks are on me, or everything your mother didn’t tell you about breastfeeding” by Veronica Robinson (author of amazing “The Mother” magazine, so supportive of natural ways!). Also sex is the energy of creation, and in that sense, birth is sexual too (and very spiritual, so connected to the divine source) so our people really have to start education themselves thanks to internet so much info available, we have a lot of work to erase the brainwashing of hundred of yours of feminine repression and control-freak masculine religions, as well as financially greedy governments and media who distort information and educate us… Shame on mothers who cover the most natural act, they ought to stand for what they know is right, of course it’s not easy to open-up people’s mind and start changing the world…Sorry I don’t mean to make them feel bad, at least they respect their child enough to feed them the perfect food, provided by god/mother nature…But WE are the ONES we’ve been waiting for, and it’s women who will bring back heaven on earth, with compassionate all-embracing unconditional love (which we learn as mothers)! Remember, we receive liquid love from our mothers’s breasts, we share love from our hearts and embraces and touch (hands are the extention of the heart), and we create love from our wombs…and love is God…that’s why men have been so scared of our powers…they’ve made up all kind of stories and we slowly forgot…Now, time to re-member, sistars! With love and light xxx

    • That’s a very beautiful way of putting everything. We need to remind ourselves of these fundamental points when we’re bravely feeding in public.

  37. Poor you Claire – what a horrible thing for them to say to you – especially while on your own with a little baby. This makes me so angry! I am glad someone jumped to your defence – how dare that man suggest that you cover up. Agree that people attitudes are so warped by sexualisation of breasts in media. In some other countries they do not have the same associations at all and everyone knows what they are ‘for!!

    Hope this wont put you off. Glad Wai Kika Moo Kau were supportive – would have been very disappointed in them otherwise because such a nice little place.

    Good luck with your protest. Think you will have a lot of support and these were just an idiotic few. xxx

  38. Claudia Townsend on

    Well done for standing up to them and orgainising this response, if you get this kind of harassment in a Brighton veggie cafe then nowhere is safe! Everyone needs to feel comfortable and supported to breastfeed. I will spread the word as much as possible.

    • I think that’s the real surprise element to my story, that it happened in Brighton. I don’t think people are surprised by the comments, we know these people exist.

  39. I love a good flashmob! Genius. My boys are grown up now but I’ll be there with bells on. Have you approached doula groups or these guys…
    http://www.brightonbreastfeed.org.uk/
    or Brighton & Hove NHS Trust?
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but to actually give someone grief for feeding their child is outragous. It’s so important to make breast feeding easier for people not harder! Good work lady :)

  40. So Sorry this has happened to you. Incredible how rude and ignorant some people are. Good luck with the flash mob.

  41. I am mortified but not shocked at your story Claire as I had a similar confrontation recently in Costa Coffee in Sainsburys. I’m still breastfeeding my 8 month old daughter. My friend who was with me at the time lept up to support me, thank goodness for the stranger who came to your aid. I know all too well how people like that can make you feel. I feel so sad that those generation see it as prudent to uncover and feed your child, when it’s the most natural thing in the world.

    I felt tongue tied when I was confronted and got angry with myself for not being able to stand up and speak confidently so well done you. You feel like shouting out “they’re just boobs!” :-)

    I will fill in the doodle form too but also feel strongly that a flash mob would be beneficial.

    • It’s rather shocking to hear similar tales but I seem to be hearing more and more incidences. That’s why the mob is on. Thanks for your support

  42. Hi, shocked & outraged to hear this, I’m definitely up for breastfeeding flash mob, just let me know when & where!! Shame we can’t go and sit outside these people’s houses really isn’t it!

  43. I’m shocked – I live in Brighton and frequented the coffee shops of the Laines when feeding my little one and only ever had thumbs up and supportive smiles. Claire you did amazingly well to stand up for yourself, I probably would have been shocked into silence. I’m up for giving support but not sure a flashmob is the best way to do this as the cafe itself was supportive but I will fill in the doodle form to do something if possible. If it helps, had I overheard them, i would have leapt to your defence too! Good for you.

    • Thanks for the support. You would think that Brighton is a safe-haven for breastfeeding mums but I’ve heard a few other similar tales and have had enough. The majority of places are supportive, please don’t get me wrong but the fact is, other people aren’t. Mindsets need to change. Whether a big old mob is going to do that, the jury is out but it will get folks’ attention!!

  44. That was bullying. Plain and simple. Congratulations – you handled it so brilliantly under difficult circumstances. What utter f*&%wits. Why were they watching and what right did they think they had to say such moronic things to you?! I don’t live in Brighton anymore or I would eagerly and happily join in your flashmob. Love x

  45. I wonder what it is that the sight of you triggered in some of those people.

    It is a most peculiar act to be so worked up about – a lone woman feeding a baby would surely if anything appear to be vulnerable and trigger feelings of protection in people. Unless you happen to have been harbouring unresolved feeings of guilt and sadness at having failed at breastfeeding yourself and have suddenly realised you’ve spent so many years using your breasts in entirely the wrong way.

    I wonder if those same 5 people would have been so quick to verbalise their “horror” or “disgust” against someone being aggressive with a child in public. I very much doubt it.

    Please try and keep in mind that when you are being attacked for minding your own business and for what is essentially a kind and nurturing gesture (feeding your child) the problem lies within them and will remain with them until they are ready to resolve it for themselves.

    There are many examples of people being excluded for doing what is essentially the right thing, the list is endless. My advice is wherever you are, whatever you are doing, don’t allow yourself to be intimidated or bullied by anyone. Tell them heir behaviour is intimidating you or that you are feeling bullied by them and ask them to please leave you alone.

    And dont take any notice when people tell you feeding your child is wrong. Babies need to be fed when they are hungry; fact.

    • Thanks for your kind words of support. I’m trying hard not to blub as I read each one! It was blatantly clear they weren’t prepared to listen to me, so I ignored them after I’d said my piece. Thank god for the fellow customer shouting out to them, absolute hero. Wish i could track him down!!!

  46. Hi Claire,
    I am so sorry you had to deal with ignorant people like this.
    It’s very shocking to me, especially as our of all the places in the South East, I’d say Brighton is one of the most tolerant & liberal places.
    I do believe that like other commenters have said its most definately a generational thing (not that it excuses such bullying behaviour).
    I once stuck up for a breastfeeding mother in a garden centre in Crawley after she was forced to overhear nasty & disrespectful comments from a table of pensioners as she fed her newborn. She was completely covered & you could see nothing. I told them loudly & in no uncertain terms that if a woman feeding her baby in the way nature intended was bothering them do much they couldn’t keep their forked tongues behind their false teeth then maybe they should stop staring so damned hard. They shut up pretty quickly & left soon after. The poor mother was obviously shaken but thanked me as she left.
    Bravo to you for standing up for you & your baby & bravo to the supportive stranger too.
    Good luck with your flashmob.

    • I think many of us have been bought up with mixed attitudes towards public feeding but there’s a difference between coming to terms with it and bullying a mother in public to what *you* think is right. I just could not let it ride and shamelessly using my social media/ blog as the platform – i love it!!

  47. Charlee this makes me so furious! BOOBS ARE MADE FOR FEEDING BABIES. Shall I say it again? BOOBS ARE MADE FOR FEEDING BABIES!!! Arghhh…I am absolutely outraged at this. In fact I’m going to make a badge with it on. Badges help. You can then distribute them to stupid ignorant people who feel the need to inflict themselves on you.

    I am so sorry that you had to go through that experience, it sounds absolutely awful that these women ganged up on you (grown women??? who probably have children themselves!!!) and made you feel like you were doing something wrong. A lot of women choose not to breastfeed for this exact reason, and the only reason they should choose not to breastfeed is BECAUSE THEY HAVE DECIDED NOT TO not because someone has made them feel like it is wrong.

    Also (and I don’t have kids so maybe I’m wrong) but if I was feeding a baby, I wouldn’t want to put a muslin/towel over the poor child! I think we should go and put a giant towel over these women – maybe I find their eating habits offensive?!

    Well done for fighting back and sharing your story. You have my full support. and badges…and giant towels if necessary.xxxx

    • Oops sorry —Charlee had posted this on twitter and I stupidly didn’t read that it was written by someone else! I was to busy being enraged! Sorry Claire!!!

    • Thanks m’dear. You have hit the nail on the head. I mean what actual business is of theirs. But they were adamant to say their piece, making out it had ruined their eating/ coffee experience. Idiots.

  48. This is awful. I would have lost my rag, so well done for keeping it together. I breastfeed everywhere and have taken to being so blaze about the whole thing that noone really notices! I live in Hastings but if I can join in with your mob I will. I agree with. Charlee about a lack of support. I asked my health visitor for advice about combining weaning with continued breastfeeding as I had concerns about diminishing supply, and she suggested I start supplementing with formula! I am now having nothing to do with that team and instead have joined a breastfeeding support group who meet once a wweek.

    I do agree that its a generation thing. My parents were a bit uncomfortable with it and I’ve had comments about how after a few months he should go on the bottle to “get him away from mommy” but I’m ignoring at and will be feeding my lad for as long as he needs it. Why would I move him to cows milk when my milk is the perfect match?

    Good luck and well done for standing up for your rights. In 6 months time Brighton will be full of young girld wearing skimpy summer clothes. Noone complains about seeing them while they are eating do they?

    • I’m just finalising all the details for the mob. Thanks so much for commenting and you support. It means so much! I’ve had to keep it together to read the posts (part hormones/ part emotion). :-)

  49. Well done for standing up for your rights Claire, and I’m sure you were very discreet – it may be the most natural thing in the world and what nature intended but few of us would actually like complete strangers to see our breasts! It seems to be the older generation who object the most – a friend of mine is being actively discouraged from breastfeeding her son by her mother on the basis that their generation were told that bottle feeding was better for baby, which is frankly a scary notion!

    When I was breast feeding around 18 years ago (MacDonalds between Tesco & M&S, Holmbush), with my baby tucked right under a voluminous shirt and not a millimetre of flesh showing at any point, a middle aged ‘gentleman’ told me that I should go to the Ladies to perform such a disgusting act. When asked if he ever ate his meals whilst sitting on the toilet he was unable to reply – victory to me, but like you I felt vulnerable. Glad that the manager was supportive, what a shame that he didn’t overhear what was going on and give the group a piece of his mind to back up the nice customer who stepped in!

    • Wow! Well done you for taking on that gentleman back then. Amazing. In fact, I’m doing this so hopefully, if my daughters choose to publicly feed, they won’t have to experience or think twice about it. Thanks for your support.

  50. Claire, I’m so very sorry you had to experience this. What an awful situation to face, but well done for standing your ground. Rest assured that you will have seemed much more assertive than you probably felt inside! :)

    I must admit, though, that I don’t think it’s indicative of a general attitude in the UK. I think there is a direct correlation between their age group and their attitude. They are, after all, from a generation who were being encouraged to use formula as if it was going out of style. These are the same people who were told that smoking during pregnancy was fine. It’s less about being enlightened and more about being up-to-date with modern information and attitudes, which older people can struggle to be. I’m not absolving them of responsibility for their disgusting attitude here; just highlighting the fact that I think they are a rarer and rarer breed these days.

    Good on you for not staying quiet about this. Sign me up for your flash mob at once!

    I wrote this a while back about the broken breast feeding support system in the UK: http://www.bumpdiaries.com/2011/breastfeeding-help-and-support/ I completely agree that we need to raise awareness and educate people to make things easier for breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mums alike.

    Charlee xx

    • Right on Charlee love, thanks for your support. Brighton is a great place to ‘be yourself’ in many respects but there’s some way to go on a number of issues including breastfeeding. Hopefully we can raise that awareness!!

  51. Those people were completely out of order, having a go at you like that. My response would have been “well if you don’t like it, then don’t watch!” – difficult I know when you’re outnumbered, but you did well to stand up for what you know is right. I have seen other similar cases reported in the media and every time you can rest assured that public opinion has been on the side of the breastfeeding mum. Some people are just small minded bullies and nothing will change that; best to just ignore it if you can.

  52. This sounds so horrible! How can 5 people (women, no less!) pick on 1 mother? Obviously they had their own breastfeeding hangups (and so many people of that generation do tbh) but don’t take it out on other people!
    Sadly I’m not bfing at the moment (pg+toddler but no baby) and don’t live in Brighton otherwise I’d be there :).

    • Thanks for your support. It means so much. I think you’re right about people’s personal hangups, their views are from a bygone generation. :-)

  53. That must have been horrible. I’m glad the staff were on your side. I’m in for some mob mentality when it involves boobs, babies and cake :) just say where and when!

  54. Claire I’m so sorry this happened today, It makes me so sad to know mums still face such vile attitudes while nursing in public, (though my heart is lighted that someone came to your support) As this is such a difficult thing to face when your alone and vulnerable with a small child.
    I remember so clearly the anger and dismay when I was faced with being told feeding my daughter was indecent. Anything I can do to enlighten the general public to the LAW of the land. that this kinda of discrimination is not on. Just fill me in on the time and date and I will be there to support you and all breastfeeding mums whom should not have to face this negative experience in this day and age of political correctness.

  55. Claire, I support you fully in this…Reading what you went through today has angered me and brought tears to my eyes in the same breath. I will share this around tomorrow when I’m on the lappy (my phone won’t share) The thought of you being in a vulnerable position today is so upsetting, so massive hugs from me….And well done for being so brave and standing up to them. I will be there supporting you, twins allowing xx