Sainsbury’s staffer told new mother it was ‘inappropriate’ to breastfeed in car park

The mother of a four-week-old baby has claimed that a Sainsbury’s staff member asked her to stop breastfeeding her daughter in the supermarket’s car park because it was “inappropriate”.

The incident allegedly took place outside a Sainsbury’s store in Kidderminster, Worcestershire on the evening of Friday 24 June.

Beth Coles, 25, had left her partner shopping inside and took their newborn daughter, Rosie, out to the car to breastfeed her.

Coles told The Independent she had tried to remain fully covered, keeping her T-shirt on and using a blanket and muslin cloth over Rosie.

She was quickly spotted by a female member of staff, who came over and knocked on the window.

“She said, ‘can you stop doing that please, I think it’s inappropriate’,” Coles recalled.

The new mother, who says she suffers from postnatal depression and borderline personality disorder (BDP), said the experience left her feeling “majorly upset” and has knocked her confidence.

“I just want to stop breastfeeding entirely now,” Coles said.

“It’s hard enough anyway with BPD and post-natal depression to find the effort to do it, but there’s no point if I’m going to get this reaction.”

In a statement to The Independent, Sainsbury’s said it has issued an apology to Coles and that it is investigating the incident.

“We have apologised to Ms Coles for this unacceptable experience, and we have reassured her that breastfeeding is very welcome in our stores,” a spokesperson said.

“We are investigating with the store and further training will be provided to our colleagues where necessary.”

However, Coles claims she has not received an apology from the supermarket but was offered a £40 gift card.

“You can’t just fob off a problem by offering a gift voucher,” Coles said. “I don’t want money; I just want acknowledgement of what happened, and I want an apology.”

It is legal to breastfeed in public places anywhere in the UK. Under the Equality Act 2010, it is against the law to discriminate against someone because they are breastfeeding in public.

Ros Bragg, director of Maternity Action, a charity that works to protect the rights of pregnant women and new mothers, commented: “The law is very clear about the rights of breastfeeding women to feed their baby when they are out and about, so it’s really disheartening to hear of this woman’s distressing experience.

“Service providers must not ask women to stop breastfeeding, cover up or move to another location. It is disappointing that the supermarket has neglected to train its staff in how to respond to women who are breastfeeding.

“Women are entitled to breastfeed whenever they need to and should not be made to feel uncomfortable or distressed when doing so.”

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.