What could be more natural than a mother breastfeeding her baby? Surely in this day and age there can be no justification for complaining about it taking place discreetly in a public place. How can it be construed as offensive or distasteful?
Mums should feel comfortable about breastfeeding when they are out and about. Often they don’t have any choice about location as a hungry baby demands to be fed irrespective or where he or she happens to be at the time.
Yet when Gemma Mueller began to breastfeed her four-and-a-half month old son, Roman-Blu Leung, in the restaurant of the Debenhams store in Portsmouth, a member of staff approached her and asked her to stop or leave.
Shocked at such a reaction, she left straight away. But when she told other mums of her experience on a Facebook group called Southsea Mummies and Babies, they decided to support her by organising a protest.
As a result, more than 20 mums and their babies turned up at the Commercial Road store to make a point about their right to breastfeed in public.
Gemma’s argument is certainly a valid one. She says: ‘I am a strong person and will breastfeed anywhere, but if that was someone else it could have stopped them from breastfeeding in public completely.’
The member of staff concerned got it wrong. That’s why we applaud Debenhams for the way it has handled the situation. Instead of being defensive and wary of a protest in its store, the company organised sandwiches, cakes and cups of coffee for the mums.
It even decorated an area of the cafe with pink balloons and presented Miss Mueller with flowers as an apology.
Debenhams says Miss Mueller being asked to stop breastfeeding or leave was an isolated incident and that staff have been reminded of its policy on breastfeeding.
We hope it won’t happen again, either in a Debenhams store or indeed anywhere that mums might need to breastfeed.
They must be made to feel welcome wherever they go, not alienated.