Got Milk?

ROSS: This is the most beautiful, natural thing in the world.
JOEY: Yeah, but there’s a baby sucking on it.
Friends, “The One With The Breast Milk”

So today I logged onto the internet, and as ever, checked out the news headlines and one story caught my eye, under the headline “Breastfeeding Flashmob Descends On Cafe After Mother Was ‘Verbally Abused By Waitress'”.

Apparently, Kelly Schaecher was in this cafe in Bristol and started breastfeeding her baby. A waitress came over and told her she would have to go and sit in the corner, and then when an embarrassed Schaecher was leaving the waitress followed her out and allegedly yelled “Don’t you ever come back to my cafe with your tits out again!”

Schaecher hit Facebook and Twitter recounting her experience and so yesterday 250 mothers rocked up at the cafe to protest.

The protesters on the march, showing off some rather good signs.

It all seems to have gone fairly well, with the owner of the cafe, a Davide Pontini apologizing and giving them free drinks and cakes, apparently even putting up a “we welcome breastfeeding” sign.

The universal breastfeeding area sign. I had no idea there was one of these.

The story really interested me and got me thinking about the whole subject.

First of all, I want to make it clear, I’m not going to get involved with the whole “breast is best” debate- I don’t know enough about it, and in all honesty, I think its a choice every mother should be allowed to make for themselves. I guess if I was pushed for an opinion I’d probably say that I think breast feeding is probably the right way to go, because doesn’t it help pass on immunity from mother to child? Like I said, I don’t know enough about it, so if I am wrong, or have offended anyone, I apologize.

Now, when it comes to breastfeeding in public, I’m even more confused. I personally don’t have a problem with it, although it does always make me feel a little uncomfortable, but I guess that’s my issue to deal with. I think I feel uncomfortable because its just one of those “don’t know where to look” scenarios.

I know I shouldn’t just sit there gawping but at the same time I don’t want it to look like I’m deliberately not looking, if you know what I mean?

Now, as I said, I don’t really have a problem with it, my discomfort is my problem not the mothers’ and something I need to get over. Also, its completely natural and they are just feeding their child, which is something noone can really object to.

That being said, however, I think mothers should take into consideration that it might be something that not everybody else is comfortable with. We live in a world made up of many different cultures and value systems and I think for the most part we should all try to not offend anyone else’s beliefs, and breastfeeding remains something that lots of people are slightly uncomfortable with. I think they shouldn’t be, but at the same time, I don’t think mothers should just ignore these concerns and others’ discomfort.

I think the waitress was in the wrong asking the mother to move to a corner, as though she’d done something wrong and I understand that it must have been rather embarrassing for the lady, but I’d have thought that if you were breastfeeding you would want to go off to the side a bit.

I’m never going to be in that position, but I’d have thought that if you were breastfeeding its something you’d want to do a bit subtly. Surely that’s why they’ve invented those breastfeeding screen thingies.

Hmm, I wonder if there’s an adult feeding screen so noone can see when I drop food down myself.

There’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding, as I said, but surely it must make mothers uncomfortable to pop their breasts out in public, especially as we live in a society where breasts are usually covered up and seen as a sexual thing as well. Despite knowing that breastfeeding is natural it must be a little unnerving to do something which is largely seen as taboo in our society, i.e. exposing your breasts.

Also, you’re not going to want to sit there trying to feed your kid while some scruffy bloke with a Motorhead tattoo tries and fails not to look at your boobs.

So, if I was a mother I would have gone and sat off to the side or in the corner anyway, although I suppose if it was occupied you’d have to just crack on wherever there was a free seat.

Yeah, its kind of a complicated issue, and one I’ve made a right pig’s ear out of trying to discuss, so let’s try to recap.

Breastfeeding is fine, and mothers should be able to do so in public. What the waitress said was completely unacceptable and mean, making a woman feel bad and embarrassed about doing something which is completely normal. I thoroughly respect the people who did the protest, especially for some of the excellent sign-work they displayed, and think that the owner of the cafe seems to have responded in a reasonable and decent manner.

You can read the full article here and if you have any thoughts, feel free to post a comment below. BETEO


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