Mum told to use Costa toilets to breastfeed after shop assistant refuses to let her use changing rooms

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  • A mum of one has spoken out about the stigma surrounding breastfeeding after being told to feed her baby in public toilets instead of a store’s changing rooms.

    Charlotte Stanbridge, 21, was shopping in the Bournemouth branch of Zara when she needed to feed her son, seven-month-old Teddy.

    The changing rooms were practically empty according to Charlotte, so she asked the shop assistant if she could quickly feed Teddy in one of the stalls.

    The woman told Charlotte that she couldn’t, and instead told her to feed Teddy in the nearby Costa toilets.

    ‘My sister and I went in to browse and found a few things we were looking to buy,’ said Charlotte.

    ‘When my sister went to try things on, we politely asked that, as the changing rooms weren’t busy, could I possibly use one to feed my baby Teddy.

    ‘The woman working then said “No, not really”.

    ‘We were so shocked and asked why, and she replied saying “Well, it’s a changing room so it’s not really for that, there is a Costa over the road you could use”.

    ‘I explained that I was looking for somewhere a bit more private, as Teddy gets easily distracted and it can be hard to be discrete, which is a personal preference of mine.

    ‘She then said “well they have a toilet you could use”. At this point I was literally shaking with rage, my legs even turned to jelly because I was so angry.’

    Charlotte Elizabeth Stanbridge

    Charlotte Elizabeth Stanbridge added a new photo.

    After asking to speak with the shop’s manager, Charlotte told her what had happened. The manager agreed that the assistant was in the wrong, and said she would speak to her.

    However, the manager carried on with her work while Charlotte and her sister, Harriet, waited.

    Charlotte said that the manager didn’t come back to update them on what happened, and she isn’t totally sure that the manager even spoke to the assistant.

    ‘I have fed in many shop changing rooms before such as New Look, Topshop and TK Maxx. I was even more angry that I was purchasing something and therefore felt that they were completely dismissing me as a consumer,’ said Charlotte after the ordeal.

    ‘I think what angered me more was that the changing rooms were free, I would understand more if it was busy but they had rows of empty rooms.

    ‘This was the first instance in which anyone or any store had made an issue of me needing to feed Teddy and I was honestly surprised by the anger that I felt.

    ‘I will not let anyone make me feel that needing to feed Teddy is not right or inappropriate in certain places. He is only a baby and doesn’t understand where he can and can’t feed.’

    Charlotte Elizabeth Stanbridge

    Charlotte Elizabeth Stanbridge added a new photo – with David Wisdom.

    Since her story broke, Charlotte has received negative comments online from users who assume she isn’t educated because she’s a young mum. She spoke to us about how she feels about the whole ordeal, and how the negative comments are missing the point.

    ‘I was just really shocked that people still think that babies should be fed in a toilet,’ she told us.

    ‘You can’t win because if you do it out in the open you are criticised, but because I wanted to do in in private, people said I felt I was entitled and that the world owed me something which isn’t how I feel at all.

    ‘I also think their assumptions about young mums was wrong. They said I was an uneducated benefit scrounger, when I actually have a degree and I’m not on benefits at all!’

    Charlotte Elizabeth Stanbridge

    Charlotte Elizabeth Stanbridge added a new photo.

    Charlotte did have hopes that the stigma surrounding breastfeeding would die down in years to come, but the comments have made her more dubious.

    ‘I would like to think that in the future it will become less of an issue. If people can be exposing themselves on the front of magazines or for advertising etc but not discreetly feed a baby without being criticised then it’s so wrong.

    ‘I don’t hold much hope though given the massive number of comments I received.

    ‘Older mums criticise you because they think it should be done indoors and you should never leave the house or have your baby in a strict routine, but I believe you should live your life as normally as possible and fit the baby’s needs around that.’

    A spokesman for Zara UK commented to Mail Online about the issue:

    ‘Zara UK’s policy on breastfeeding is that in no circumstances should breastfeeding be stopped in our stores and that customers who wish to breastfeed their child should be supported by providing a safe and comfortable environment on request.

    ‘We understand that in this circumstance one staff member did not follow the policy, subsequently the manager explained our policy to the customer and apologised.

    ‘Zara UK would also like to apologise and confirm that we have spoken to the staff member involved.’