Thursday, 5 July 2012

Nobody puts baby in the corner










last three pictures by Imogen Pettitt 
So before I right this post a little background information:


'Here is the reason we are doing this...
Hello All,
Yesterday I was sitting in a cafe discreetly feeding Sasha and was asked to move into the corner as I was being impolite. I was so shocked and stupidly I just moved but as I sat there I got more annoyed/angry. As I was leaving a woman walked in with a newborn and I said, " just so you know you will be asked to sit in the corner to feed". The couple then left the cafe. I was walking up Park St and a black Audi pulled over violently and a woman screamed at me from her window to
"Never f....
ing come to her cafe again and get my tits out and don't tell other people not to come here"
I was scared and shocked at this and started to cry and in my anger I replied, "You have no idea what's coming". The couple behind me were very kind, the guy actually works for a legal firm and said I would have a harassment case against this woman, I have her details. He returned to the shop and basically gave them a telling off. I have spoken to the police and I do have a case against her and she could be arrested but I have chosen not to go down that stressful and time consuming route. I am rather busy parenting and returning to work in August.

I would however like to do more than just have some community officers go and tell her off, which is going to happen. I would like suggestions on further action to be taken? I am fine now but if this happened to someone just starting to feed it would really knock their confidence and I think it's just wrong. I am thinking of doing a breast feeding sit in with as many mothers as I can gather to show that this kind of behaviour is not OK, especially as Bristol is the
UKs first Baby Friendly city. I may also call the local paper and see if they would cover it.

Please send through any ideas of action to be taken or let me know if you would come and invite all your fellow Mothers to come.
Thanks,
Kelly'



A Facebook group was set up called 'Bristol Mother Suckers' to organise a flashmob in response to this. The idea was that we would all attend the cafe in question and breastfeed our babies. The night before the event the General Manager of the cafe posted this:


'Good evening. My name is Davide Pontini and I am the general manager of the company that runs Park Street Cafe.
I look forward to welcoming you all to the Cafe tomorrow morning.
You are all most welcome and I hope to be able to meet you all and perhaps have the opportunity to explain who we are and that we are very comfortable with mothers that want to breast feed, our Cafe is well laid out to
accommodate mums babies and toddlers, and this happens on a daily basis.
I was not present when this incident happened but I will be there tomorrow to meet you all and introduce myself and the Cafe Manager, Patrick Pepe.
Patrick is Italian, as I am, and comes from a small village outside Rome. His English is not perfect but his attitude to Mums and their babies is. In our culture our Mum represent the most important woman in a man's life.
Patrick's intention in asking the Mum to move was thinking of the comfort and privacy of the Mum whilst she was breast feeding.
I can only imagine something was lost in translation and Patrick never meant to be rude or to make the mum uncomfortable. Quite the reverse. Patrick does not have enough English as yet to be articulate enough with such a sensitive subject and I hope you can forgive him for this incident. I know his feelings at the moment and his attitude will be the most apologetic.
We are a small cafe that welcomes everyone and anyone openly and we believe we have created a very friendly environment and we are sensitive to all our customers needs.
Regarding the altercation that happened with the young woman I can reassure you that all statements have been collected as well as the CCTV footage, and that my job will be to get to the very bottom of the facts and take appropriate action.


I hope that when we meet tomorrow you will not consider us guilty without a chance to introduce ourselves and show you we are not the bad people that you think we are.
Coffees, teas and pastries will be offered tomorrow to show our best intentions.

Sincerely

Davide
Pontini'



The response in my opinion was perfect, they admitted their fault and apologised for the offence caused (although the verbal attack by the woman in the sports car has still not been resolved). The incident as upsetting as it was for Kelly really highlighted breastfeeding and was great to see how much support there was for it in the city.
Despite being an open group there has only been three trolls on the Event page with the usual ignorant statements, likening breastfeeding to a man flashing his private parts and other such stupidities mainly written to cause a reaction I'm sure. 


There were times leading up to the event where I was concerned the focus of the event may stray off track. I was anxious that anyone should try and turn it into a bottle vs breast argument which I am not comfortable with. I have written before about struggling with breastfeeding in the first few weeks of Wilf's life. I have a few friends that desperately wanted to breastfeed but were unable to, one of my friend's baby had severe tongue tie that wasn't corrected for four days meaning she had become  dependant on drinking expressed milk out of bottle and was unable to go back to the breast even after the tie was corrected. My friend expressed for week upon week to ensure her baby got breast milk for those early weeks in her life, way longer than I would have managed to do I'm sure.
In those early weeks when I struggled so much with feeding Wilf, when it became too much and I was one more excruciating feed away from giving up altogether one of the things (apart from the fact I really really wanted to breastfeed) that made me keep at it was thinking 'what would people think of me?' and also 'what would my mum say??'. It may be the type of baby classes I go to (baby massage/baby yoga) but each one I've gone to when their baby was getting upset the woman would just swiftly lift up her top and breastfeed with ease and calm the baby instantly. I had wondered in those occasions what it would be like for me if I breastfeeding hadn't worked out for me, when my baby was crying and I would have to heat up a bottle somehow and how I would feel the odd one out. So the thought of making this any kind of argument of breast v bottle did worry me.


Luckily my worries were unfounded and it was anything but that. I would also like to state that I am a big supporter of breastfeeding, I love it and setting aside the health benefits I just love the emotional bond it gives me, the oxytocin it releases and the added bonus of burning so many calories I am back in my pre-pregnancy clothes in six months with no real effort. And of course I am 100% behind a woman's right to breastfeed where ever she needs to.


I remember the first time I breastfed in public, I had set out to breastfeed in public before this occasion but Wilf had slept the entire time we were out and I remember getting home feeling so relieved I hadn't had to do it. It was such a big deal at the time (which feels so strange to me now!) I remember emailing my NCT friends and telling them how worried I was about it, about exposing myself, about not getting the latch right and Wilf yelling and drawing attention to me. Of course it was fine, no one batted an eyelid and I wore a pashmina which covered everything. I used that pashmina for a good month I think before I got my confidence up. I remember in that first month discovering the nursing rooms in our local shopping centre and being so excited that I could go and feed in private here..that thought also seems bizarre to me now..feeding my baby next to a toilet??


I am grateful I have never had a bad experience breastfeeding, I doubt most people even notice in all honestly. I have had a couple of comments in the past six months, mainly from old women telling me what a lovely thing it was and how they miss it! A woman wrote on the Facebook page for this event that 'this is exactly why I didn't breastfeed' when prompted she explained that she meant she hadn't breastfed her babies for fear of something like this happening to her. Hearing that made me feel incredibly sad, that the thought of people persecuted her for feeding her baby how she chose in public stopped her from breastfeeding and is exactly why doing something like this is important. 


What I loved about this protest was that it was essentially mums (and a few dads!) uniting in solidarity for a fellow mother that had felt persecuted for how she was feeding her baby. There was an air of openness and friendliness and every so often you would bump into someone you had met whilst both pregnant and have a quick catch up. Sitting opposite another mother feeding her baby and striking up conversation as there was the common ground of solidarity for all mothers. I was asked a couple of questions by a reporter about why I had come along and I her told her that it was about 'supporting a mothers right to feed her baby in anyway she chooses' and I'm so glad that was the way it turned out. I am really proud to have been part of this event today, I hope to feed Wilf long into the future (y'know so I can eat as much cake as I like for a good while longer) and I'm very glad I am protected by the law to feed him wherever I need to..and that I know if anyone gives me a hard time for that I've got a large amount of women who have got my back!

28 comments:

vonnie_whinging_pom said...

lovely blog...I've been very glad to see most of the women on the event page weren't about bottle V breast but about choice and support. I was unable to feed my son after 3 weeks of aching agony and trying...but I no longer feel so bad about that. I did for ages. I had some bad reactions bottle feeding. we should ALL have the space, the freedom, the choice and the right to feed our babies how we choose to and wherever we like...we all know babies won't wait. bravo to all the feeding mammas and the other attendees. a wonderful event. proud to be part of it too in my small way.

Circus Queen said...

Another mama of a tongue-tied baby! They're so many of us about! I almost ended up not breastfeeding because my daughter's tongue-tie wasn't corrected until she was eight weeks old and my milk supply had been compromised by then. Thankfully we got it back up but breastfeeding has been hard enough without also having to worry about public opinion! Lovely post about women uniting and about freedom.

Mum2BabyInsomniac said...

I was there yesterday too and I feel exactly the same as you about it. It was such a lovely feeling to know that a whole group of parents grouped together to support someone who experienced something so awful for doing something so natural. I breastfed my little girl for 18 months and was really lucky to never receive any negativity from anyone either, in the early days it would have really upset me but by the end I have to say that I had my argument all ready! Lovely post :) x

Fi7 said...

Looks like it was a really positive protest, and it's great that the cafe responded as they did. A good outcome for all!

Lil said...

wow look at all those protesting babies! good job they got those mounted police out lol

I saw that you tweeted you were concerned it would become a breast vs. bottle drama, I agree with you so much on that, my SIL isnt feeding Freya herself now as she just cant run a pub full time and do it, the people who have thought it okay to express ( no pun intended ) an opinion on this to her face has amazed me, same with comments Ive heard to breastfeeding mums, why do people get so wound up about how other people feed their kids? that poor girl getting verbally abused like that and TBH the "apology" sounds like so many excuses and basically reads " we screwed up now how can we lie about it and make sure our business doesnt go down the pan" anyway, great pics thats a lovely one of you and Wilf.

Kate said...

This was really lovely to read, in part because I think the solidarity you all showed was a wonderful thing, and partly because your attitude to Mothers who bottle feed is lovely and not at all judgemental.

My first daughter is now four years old. She was born by emergency c-section and I definitely felt like I'd failed a bit as a woman by not giving birth to her without intervention. I'm sure that because of this my ability to breastfeed was affected. I only managed two weeks before giving up.

My second little girl was born four weeks ago and I was desperate to be able to feed her myself this time around. Sadly I only managed four weeks this time before feeling like I really couldn't continue. The guilt I feel is horrendous, I feel like I've let my little girl down and the people who've given me so much help and advice. The worst thing is being made to feel like a failure by other women who successfully breastfeed. I feel embarrased to get my bottles out where a bf mother could judge me. I would live to have made it this time, but I do feel I made the right decision.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your attitude towards those of us who've had to choose this route. You're accepting and not judgemental and I am really grateful to you for that.

Lil said...

@Kate, the same happened to me, absolutely DO NOT feel guilty, I had terrible guilt after my first birth (lots of interventions led to forceps and lots of trouble after which i wont expand on here ) I totally had this sense of failure thing. do not feel embarrassed, it is at the end of the day only yours and your babys business and if anyone judges you they need to take a long hard look at themselves ( I got quite good at pointing this out eventually i could shut them up with a look lol) sorry for the essay but i really felt for you having read your comment, one of the reasons this blog is one of my faves ( and my kids are all over 16 now ) is its writer is a very very lovely honest lady, you wont find judgement here ;)

honey's mummy said...

My husband is from Bristol and we go back there a lot, reading about this incident in the news tonight made my blood boil to be honest. I can't believe people in this day and age can be so rude to mothers breast feeding, I would have probably cried too if someone had shouted at me like that, and I feel very proud of all the support she got when you all went to the cafe, great work! Whilst breastfeeding my first, a couple of my NCT friends gave up early due to bad reactions in public, it's just so sad, and infuriating. My second baby is due in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping to breastfeed again, in public, discreetly and where ever the baby needs it. I just hope if anything happens like this to me I can rely on other mummies for support.
Love your blog by the way!
http://honeysmummy.blogspot.co.uk

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@vonnie I remember seeing your comments on the page and thinking I felt the same way as you, luckily no one went over board and if anyone did mention anything they were quickly put back in check! You are right its about our right to choose to feed our babies where and however we like! x

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@circus queen I get so cross when I hear about women being let down by the system with something like tongue tie, its seems so common so why can they not spot it better??Well done for sticking at it with tongue tie for 8 weeks, must have been so hard

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@mum2babyinsomniac firstly, great name :)
I wonder if we saw each other, it was lovely wasnt it! I am so used to feeding Wilf now that I would be so surprised if I got any negativity from it. I guess thats why I was so shocked at what happened to Kelly! x

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@Fi7 indeed! x

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@lil haha well I heard after that they wern't there for us and that one of the police women stopped to chat to a friend in the crowd! ha!
I know what you mean about the response but I would like to give them the benifit of the doubt and they have done the right thing in their apology.
The thing about expressing full time is crazy and makes me so cross when people suggest doing that, they must have NO idea how much hard work it is. Frankly it would be impossible unless you lived your life as some kind of cow hooked up to a milking machine!
Also thanks so much for your other comment, brought a tear to my eye! :)x

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@kate dont feel guilty for one minute! I am ashamed to say before I had Wilf I did think 'it cant be that hard, why doesnt everyone do it?' that attitude was so naive as there are so many reasons why it can go wrong or why its just not right for a mother. I can see how you would feel like people might judge you and that makes me so cross as we are all in this together and mothers should just be supportive of one another as its bloody hard sometimes! You have made the right desision for you and your baby and dont let anyone make you feel otherwise xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@honey's mummy congrats! thats so sad to hear about your NCT friends, I hope this kind of thing helps make that not happen in the future.
And I love that if it does now with the power of social media I really believe people will get the support from other mothers so put right these people!
x

vonnie_whinging_pom said...

@Tigerlilly, I'm really touched you took the time to respond to each of us personally...and you have a baby! you are clearly some kind of wonderful wonderwoman. I could barely tie my shoelaces!!! I've found a lot of comfort these last few days in the Bristol Mothers Suck event page and beyond...it feels as though I'm soothed from a fair bit of the pain I had back when my boy was small. Now 14 and nearly 6" tall it seems a million years ago...but that feeling of failing him still remains. sometimes Mother Nature has other plans for us. I've never met a mother yet who hasn't had to make a difficult decision for the health and wellbeing of her baby and herself...we face challenges every day. the groundswell of support for this event feels like a bit comfy cushion. it reaches back into my history and makes me feel a LOT better. you're all amazing...having babies is REALLY HARD!!! ♥

Actually Mummy... said...

I am incredulous! First at the treatment that poor girl received. And second at the perfect example of customer service after the event. I doubt you could have scripted a better outcome. How businesses deal with a bad experience is so important, and not many have the good grace to do it like this. Well done to all parties. (I do hope you find out who the sports car lady was)
PS what I loved in the images was the fact that you had the horseback police there!!

Papa said...

A fabulous turn-out and a fun, friendly event that achieved everything it set out to do. The media coverage has been vast and perhaps now a few more of the curmudgeonly folk that still have a problem with it will change their minds, or at least realised that public breastfeeding has been protected by law for 2 years now.

As others have said there are many barriers to breast-feeding, from insurmountable physical issues to social ones like embarrassment of feeding in public or fear of bad reactions. Everyone has unique situations and no one should ever be made to feel less of a parent because of the path they chose in their own trying circumstances - not one bit.

See, we've been at the sharp end of 'pro-breastfeeding' done wrong – my wife's milk did not come in properly for several days and our baby lost just enough weight that we were told to go back to hospital, in grave tones, by a community midwife.

The 'breast feeding' specialist there prodded and probed my wife without asking, hooking her up to an alarming industrial factory-farm style pump. By this time my wife had not slept in four days and was acting in a way I'd never seen before in 8 years. She was utterly broken, a different person. Worse, the young woman opposite her in the ward had been pushed into a similar state of psychological despair. It was starting to feel like a hokey prison camp b-movie. No wonder many, perhaps potentially successful breast feeders, give up fast if they ever come across anything remotely like this.

My wife demanded top-ups of formula, so she could finally satiate our half-starved little baby, and was given yet another guilt trip. Still, with the formula, baby finally got some proper kip, so did mum. Lo and behold the next day my wife's milk came flooding in and she breastfed successfully from then on. She later learned that milk can take several days to come in properly and that small 'top ups' are an accepted way to manage this process. But she was never informed of this option beforehand.

Luckily, before we left hospital my wife spoke at length with a lovely, older 'been there done that' midwife who made her feel much better and we left on a positive note and began enjoying our new little one.

Thankfully, there are many peer-to-peer breastfeeding support groups around now where more gentle support is offered so that those who really want to make it work get the best chance possible.

Vicky said...

I haven't been able to feed either of my children, much to my shame and disappointment. My son, now almost four, and I had massive problems and I gave up after about three weeks. My daughter (twelve weeks) had tongue tie that nobody thought to tell us about. I was not offered any sort of correction, and once somebody did think to tell us (my first midwife appointment after the birth was at five weeks because I 'fell out of the system'), it was too late to have it done privately and I was informed I would have to pay for the operation to be done privately. We don't have that sort of money, and so she is now bottle fed. I am so angry with the NHS that this could happen to anybody, and angry at myself for not being able to feed her for longer. I'm just grateful that I managed those first four weeks, although every day I consider relactating, despite knowing it would be pointless. I hate bottle feeding with a passion, it goes against everything I believe in when it comes to parenting, and I feel like a complete failure.
In those first four weeks I breastfed in public twice and felt nothing but pride. A woman has the right to choose how and where she feeds her baby - if a woman came in wearing a low cut top, would she be asked to sit in the corner? I doubt it.
Great post, and what a great thing you all did, love the pictures!

Nectarine Dreams said...

Go Bristol Mama's !! So awesome!! Well done!!

Coffee and Cat Hair said...

I don't know any of you and yet I am so ridiculously proud of each and every one of you for taking part in such a powerful and peaceful protest.

I hate that in this day and age many mothers feel afraid to breastfeed in public and this was such a great way to raise awareness. Not aggressive, not blaming, but strong and unapologetic.

Aces lady! XXX

The Mother said...

I've also struggled with feeding in public and despite having a baby who is almost three months old, I've still not done it outside the confines of my own or family and friend's homes. I gave up breastfeeding my son (now 6 years old) at four weeks due to crippling embarrassment and feeling unable to leave the house as he needed feeding every hour and a half. However I do want to carry on feeding this time around so I guess its a hurdle I have to overcome. Its really great though to see such support from other women.

Kate said...

I second that! It really was very sweet and thoughtful of you to reply to each of us individually. And thank you, each of you, for your kind words.

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@papa your story of your wife's treatment made me feel so sad.The bit where you described her as 'utterly broken' actually brought a lump to my throat. I'm so glad the second midwife helped. People should never be made to feel that way x

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@vicky please please dont feel like that. You were let down like my friend by the system with the tongue tie and it makes me so so angry that are so many cases like this! You did what was right for you and your baby in the circumstances given and please dont ever feel any guilt over that xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@nectarine dreams thanks lady! x

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@coffee and cat hair thanks Kim! xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@themother I'm so sorry to hear this. It makes me so sad that other's negativiy can do that. I have to admit the first couple of times where a hurdle but you soon get used to it and I hope you only get support for BF in public xx

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