Mums pack in to Debenhams to make a stand on breastfeeding

SIT IN Members of Southsea Mummies and Babies at the restaurant at Debenhams in Portsmouth.  ''Picture: Sarah Standing (120823-702)
SIT IN Members of Southsea Mummies and Babies at the restaurant at Debenhams in Portsmouth. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (120823-702)

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MUMS in Portsmouth stood up for their rights in Debenhams’ restaurant today after a mother claimed she was told to stop breastfeeding her child.

More than 20 mums and their babies packed into the Commercial Road store to raise awareness of breastfeeding in public as the store apologised for its actions, which it said was a one-off.

Gemma Mueller, of Southsea, claims a member of staff told her to stop breastfeeding her four-and-a-half month son Roman-Blu Leung in the store’s restaurant three weeks ago.

It prompted her to tell other mums on a Facebook group called Southsea Mummies and Babies, and fellow parents pledged to support her by organising the protest.

Miss Mueller said: ‘I was in the cafe having a cup of tea when a member of staff approached me and said would you mind stopping breastfeeding or leave. I was shocked and left straight away.

‘I am a strong person and will breast feed anywhere but if that was someone else it could have stopped them from breastfeeding in public.

‘Today we will show that we are strong and have a right to breast feed.’

Debenhams organised a spread of sandwiches, cakes, cups of coffee and decorated an area of the diner with pink balloons as way of apology.

Miss Mueller was also presented with a bouquet of flowers.

A Debenhams spokesperson said: ‘We are fully supportive of breastfeeding in Debenhams, so we are putting on a breastfeeding party for the Southsea Mummies and Babies group this afternoon as a way of apology.

‘We are sorry to hear of Gemma’s experience in store last month, this was an isolated incident and as Gemma was unable to identify the member of staff that approached her, we have re-briefed all store staff on our breastfeeding policy as a precautionary measure.’