D, Isaac and I decided to brave shopping in Birmingham on Friday. Birmingham, Britain's second capital city, right?

Needless to say, right after D and I had lunch, Isaac was ready to feed. First port of call? Uh, find somewhere to feed him. John Lewis in Solihull has a full parent and baby room, with bottle warmers, changing mats, breastfeeding areas, toilets etc, basically everything a parent with a baby/toddler could ask for.

Birmingham has...nothing. When Noah was still nursing, I would go into public toilets to feed him, because there was nowhere else to go. These toilets were "supposedly" suitable, but usually meant cramming myself into a tiny cubicle with a toilet, sink, changing table and a fold down chair (because there wasn't enough room for a regular chair). Oh and also, a disco ball suspended from the ceiling.

Then they built a large Mothercare, where you would ASSUME there would be a parent and baby room. There was. It was out of order (the plumbing was screwed apparently). So I asked if there was somewhere I could nurse my (screaming) baby. "Yes of course!" they said. "You can use the changing room; there's a chair and plenty of space."

"Um...ok thanks..." Not convinced, but it was better than out on the street.

I was in there maybe 15 minutes, feet perched on the wheels of the pushchair, hunched over the boy trying to get a good position. No luck, but hey, he fed.

As I was putting myself back, D came in and said there was a customer waiting to try on stuff. As I came out, I apologised to her and said there was nowhere else to nurse. At which point (and forgive me if I start typing in caps here, I still get a little, um, IRATE when I recall this), she accused me of being SELFISH for feeding my baby in the changing rooms when there were people (just her I might add) waiting to try on clothes. Also, that she was now very late for whatever, because I'd been HOGGING THE CHANGING ROOM, and she's a mum too so she understands, but I should GO SOMEWHERE ELSE to feed my child instead of causing problems for everyone else.

I (amazingly calmly) told her that I had ASKED PERMISSION from the staff to feed Isaac and they had advised I used that (ONE AND ONLY) changing room.

I should point out that as I type this right now, I'm struggling to avoid tensing up completely and throwing something quite heavy.

She continued to moan and complain. I went and complained to the staff that I had just been bollocked by a frigging customer for their incompetence, and that they might want to think carefully about their facilities, and that as a shop devoted to parents and children, they totally fucking SUCK.

I am so frigging livid, they pissed me off so much I can't believe it, and this was 4 days ago now. I've actually decided that the next time I'm in Birmingham with Isaac and he needs feeding, I will plonk my ass in the middle of the SHITTY CRAP Bullring, or if I can be ARSED to make the walk, in the middle of BOLLOCKY RUBBISH Mothercare and feed right in front of everyone.

The irony is, I have no issues with feeding in front of people. I'll feed wherever and whenever, that's my attitude to breast feeding. It's the most natural thing in the world. My baby wants to eat; I will feed him. Do people go and hide in toilets/changing rooms to feed their kids solids? No. So why should it be any different for me?

So let me have it. Was I right for complaining to the staff? Should I have humbly apologised and walked away, and just leave it there, let it go? Should I in fact go back, sit in the middle of the store/shopping centre and nurse my baby for all to see, to make a statement? I would love your feedback, because it may just dictate whether I write a letter of complaint to the Council and/or Mothercare.

Breast feeding: it's not a crime. Or is it?
13 Responses
  1. Krista Says:

    People can be idiots no matter the situation. If you have no problems feeding your baby in public then I say do so! I feed my baby wherever I am. I've sat down in a chair at a furniture store and fed my baby. Just be prepared that you might get backlash for that also. You can't please everyone. Just do what makes you comfortable when it comes to feeding your baby.

  2. Kat Says:

    In the States there are laws that women may breastfeed their babies anywhere they feel comfortable. I don't know what kind of laws they have on the books here in the UK. I would say, do what you feel comfortable with. I bottle fed, so I don't have any real suggestions. I don't think that breastfeeding should be made into a shameful thing though because some people are uncomfortable with the sight of a breast. Breasts are meant for feeding babies, it is natural and people need to get over their hang ups. My two pence. Sorry about the blog post in the middle of your comments. Ok I'll stop now..

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I really feel for you hun, it is a Lose / Lose situation this parenting malarkey. I wanted to bf but couldn't, due to lack of support at home - they don't wanna hear him crying that often so i had to give into the pressure of sedating him with a bokkle... i beat myself up too often for giving in and not standing up for myself and of course for the best interests of my Baby, God forgive me, And then you don't get the support when you're out and about either. You cannot stay at home 24/7. You were not hogging the changing room, the other woman was a miserable bitch and prob someone moaned at her once too and now she's paying it forward cos she's bitter and twisted inside. I say Go You hunny for doing what you think is best for your precious. I refused to BF in the toilets once (cos I worried about germs) and got into a right row with my DH cos i was being "awkward". Sympathy hun. There was a woman(complete stranger) in C&A the other day telling me how to get my baby to stop crying, ooooh i wish i'd had used the chance to give her a piece of my mind, the auld snatch...

  4. Lisa Says:

    That's all you did? I probably would have called the corporate headquarters and whatever government (parliament???) representative available to give them my opinion (translated to "rip them a new arsehole") regarding the situation. But that's just ME. I already told you what I think on Twitter. I thought it was the saleslady, not a customer, who did the complaining. So that being said, I probably would've just told her to "f*&$ off" and walked away.

  5. Meredith Says:

    I would write the letter. There's no reason a store geared towards moms and kids should NOT have a nursing area. And over here, when I need to nurse, I just whip out the girls and do it. Nobody has ever said anything to me or even blinked an eye at me, except my dad...lol...he goes in the other room and makes himself look really busy until Reese and I are done. : )

  6. Sarcastica Says:

    I'd go back and breast feed in the middle of the store :)

  7. Samantha Says:

    lol at Meredith's comment....

    Seriously, I would write a letter too - they should have a working and clean room just for moms and babies.

    That being said, do you have a Hooter Hider? I'm personally not that comfortable with whipping the girls out in public {I have no problems with those that are comfortable with it, I just personally can't do it!}, but with my Hooter Hider I can't tell you the number of times I sat in the food court at the mall {or a furniture store, or IKEA, or Target....} and fed Noah.

  8. I agree with Krista, if you feel comfortable feeing him where ever, then feed him where ever! That's what I've always done. After 6 years of nursing in CA, the FIRST time I was EVER harassed about it was our first night in Iowa. We were at a WalMart and I fed Ellie on a bench in front of the fitting room counter, an EMPLOYEE came and told me 'Um.. you need to do that somewhere else.' I told her 'Actually, I'm fine right here.' She then requested again that I move, citing 'some people might get offended' and then the fitting room clerk repeated my statement 'No, she's fine right there.'

    She was lucky that her co-worker stuck up for me. However, I still kick myself for not making a fuss about it.

  9. leta joy Says:

    You should absolutely write a letter and I would have told that idiot woman to SUCK IT.

  10. Hope Says:

    I guess I just dont understand why you didnt just sit down where ever in the store you were in and feed your baby. Just find yourself a comfy spot and go for it. Why did you even need to seek out a changing room? Im not saying what happened with the staff was ok they should have just said you can go anywhere you want to feed your baby. I suppose a letter would be a good idea but im of the mind that the more special rooms that are made for bfing the more it will continue to be thought of as something that must be put away in a room. It should not ever be hidden. If a person needs a quiet place to feed because there baby gets distracted easily then go to a quiet place. If the locations doesnt have one, lesson learned dont shop there anymore. the more people who bf and dont hide it the more companies will want to do whatever they can to please those consumers.

  11. Jen Says:

    I'm SOOOOO angry for you. I think you should write an angry letter AND go breastfeed in their shop just to piss them off.
    When I was still breastfeeding J, I went into Mothercare in Worcester. The parent room was full of mothers giving their babies bottles (!) so I sat outside the room on a bench and fed him. I too had some employee try to move me on (in Mothercare?) but I refused to move. Mainly because my Mum was busy kicking the woman's arse... She went bonkers - it was truly spectacular!
    Borrow my Mum, then go and feed Isaac in the window of Mothercare... (Oh, and I'm with you about those shitty, smelly little rooms in the Bull Ring - I've never been so uncomfortable in my life...)
    For reference, one of the best place I've found to feed is Marks and Spencers cafes. They're super supportive and come and ask if you want another drink etc.

  12. I think you have a right to be angry with the idiot who was waiting to try on clothing, but from my reading, it doesn't seem that the store did anything wrong (did I miss something??). They gave you a place to feed and then let you know pretty politely when someone was waiting to use the room. In the future - ABSOLUTELY feed your baby in public whereever you are! No need to go hide! People are idiots - don't let them get to you. I think you were right to let them know that the customer was rude to you - but that is about all you can do at this point. I hope I didn't miss anything.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    You should have just parked yourself in a nice cafe's cubicle, had a cuppa tea and fed your baby right there and then! There are very few places to feed babies over here in the USA too. I would always go to a changing room as well and never ran in to any problems till I went to the local Wal-mart (Asda in the UK) and had similar issues to you. Thankfully the old dear at the changing room area let the complainer have it! Hugs!