Breastfeeding mum told to cover up to avoid causing ‘offence’

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A storm has erupted in the UK after an exclusive hotel told a mum to cover up while breastfeeding in its dining room. Claridge’s has come under fire for “humiliating” mum Lou Burns by saying breastfeeding may offend other guests.

Ms Burns posted this picture on Twitter after a waiter gave her a “ridiculous shroud” to wear when she discreetly started nursing 12-week-old daughter Isadora during a long-awaited Christmas afternoon tea with her mother and sister.

She tells the Evening Standard she burst into tears after a waiter rushed over and gave her a large napkin, saying it was Claridge’s policy that breastfeeding mothers cover up when feeding. “My first reaction was to burst into tears. I was so shocked and humiliated,” she says.

“I have three children and this is the first time I have been able to breastfeed properly. Women are under so much pressure to breastfeed and it is not always easy. I did not expect to be made to feel I have done something wrong.”

Ms Burns, 35, says she tried to use the napkin, but Isadora became distressed. She was eventually told she could continue without it as long as no other guests in the Tea Room complained. They didn’t.

Ironically, it came just weeks after the hotel tweeted a photo of Erin O’Connor at the hotel showing “side boob” – a point not missed by Twitter user Eve Canvan.

Another user, Caroline Bailey, posted a picture of a Margot Robbie in a plunging neckline at the hotel.

While Ms Burns’ breastfeeding may not have caused offence to others, Claridge’s policy did – the five-star hotel faced a huge backlash on social media. Many pointed out its policy was illegal and discriminatory, and the hotel finally issued an apology of sorts.

But mum-of-three Ms Burns says she is so embarrassed by the incident that she doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to go back. “I felt so awkward,” she tells the Evening Standard. “They said they were very sorry and wanted to see me back there, but I was so appalled by my treatment. I was not out there with my boobs out. I was so discreet one of the waiters did not even realise I was breastfeeding.”

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

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