Cafe tells mum: “You’ll need to go to the toilet if you’re going to breastfeed”

Breastfeeding mum in cafe

A New Zealand mum had just started breastfeeding her 3-month-old daughter in a cafe, when a waitress advised her she’d need to relocate to the bathroom if she wanted to keep feeding her baby.

“Are you embarrassed?”

Gabby Bond was visiting Christchurch’s Water Drop Vegetarian Cafe with her baby Penelope, part of a group of girlfriends having lunch, when things went pear-shaped, TVNZ reports.

Gabby said a waitress approached her, while she was feeding her baby and asked, “Are you embarrassed?”

The waitress then advised her that she’d need to move out of public view, if she wanted to breastfeed on the premises.

“You will need to go to the toilet if you’re going to breastfeed,” the waitress told Gabby.

Safety in numbers?

The new mum was obviously mortified, even more so when a second waitress approached and stood silently alongside the first, in apparent solidarity. 

“Another waitress then came over and stood next to the one talking to me, and didn’t say anything, sort of like supporting her,” Gabby said.

“I was shocked and stunned. I never thought anything like this would happen to me in this day and age.”

Gabby and her friends cancelled their lunch orders and left the cafe immediately, in protest. Good call.

Traumatic ordeal

A shocked Gabby told TVNZ that it was a “highly traumatic and embarrassing ordeal” and we are not the least bit surprised she feels that way.

The early days of breastfeeding can be a real challenge, and many women find breastfeeding when they’re out and about a steep learning curve. Being singled out, humiliated and discriminated against is obviously a mortifying experience for exhausted new mothers.

It’s also illegal. So there’s that.

Voting with their feet

When Gabby and friends later complained, via a couple of negative reviews on Facebook, the cafe in question apologised for the way she and Penelope were treated.

Later, however, they did an about-face. They denied Gabby was told to feed her baby in the toilet, saying they had a “lactation room” available, specifically for breastfeeding mums.

 

Gabby Bond cafe incident Gabby Bond cafe incident

 

As the cafe deleted Gabby and friends’ negative reviews mentioning the incident from their Facebook page, a spokesperson for the cafe, Lihson Ding, further doubled-down in support of their waitress.

 “We believe [the waitress] wouldn’t have said that. We support breastfeeding, we even have the lactation room upstairs. We deleted the posts because we think we have already done the right thing, we replied to them and we don’t need to apologise anymore,” Mr Ding explained, noting that the cafe’s star rating had dropped because of the complaints.

Sorry-not-sorry

It’s confusing to ponder why a cafe with a “lactation room” might have subjected Gabby to such unkind and unwelcoming treatment. Surely they’d bring her a glass of water and point out the facility in a friendly way, if they were breastfeeding advocates?

The cafe has since about-faced again, posting another apology – this time an unreserved one. It would seem that the incident and their initial insensitive, clumsy and panicked response was inaccurate, and is something they are not proud of.

You can read the new apology below.

 

Hello everyone. We have been receiving a great deal of feedback in the past week, which we’d like to address with our…

Posted by Water Drop Vegetarian Cafe Christchurch on Thursday, 6 July 2017

 


Have YOU ever been asked to move on whilst breastfeeding in public, like Gabby?

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