Emily Ellis and her fiancé, Dan Smith, went to the Cumberland Hotel, located in England, to pay the final amount on the balance for their wedding reception. When their 13-week-old baby boy became restless after a long wait, Ellis asked if she could sit in the restaurant and nurse him. She was shocked when the hotel receptionist said no and that it wouldn't be appropriate. Instead she was offered access to a restroom where she could nurse her baby.
Ellis was upset, and after they left, the couple decided to call the hotel and cancel the reception. They are now looking for an alternate venue on short notice, and even though the hotel has apologized and offered a complimentary stay, they still aren't happy. The explanation given was that the receptionist was a trainee, but that story doesn't sit well with the new mom.
A spokesperson said the employee mistakenly believed Ellis was looking for a private location to nurse, but if that were the case, she wouldn't have added on that nursing in public was inappropriate.
I don't blame Ellis for being upset. I know this establishment likely doesn't have a habit of discriminating against breastfeeding mothers, and I also know that one crappy employee can really drag a business down, but this is exactly the sort of thing new employees should be trained on right away. A single breastfeeding discrimination incident is a PR nightmare that can damage the image of a business.
The Cumberland has since expressed that moms are free to breastfeed anywhere in the hotel they find comfortable, and this will likely lead to better employee training so this will not be an issue in the future. On that point, they are definitely handling the situation appropriately. "The hotel staff are devastated that this misunderstanding has caused so much upset and we acknowledge that this was a result of poor communication on our part," Pat Green, group operations manager at the hotel, told The Telegraph.
The bottom line? If you're working somewhere and you see someone nursing their baby, leave them alone. If they ask you if they can nurse in a certain area, say yes as long as that area is open to the public. You don't have to try to guess what a mom is asking or assume she wants something that is the complete opposite of what she's requested.
Nursing in public is a kid eating. It's not boobs flashing, it's not whipping it out, it's not like peeing or pooping, it's not sexual, it's not classless or immoral, and it's not gross or inappropriate. Hopefully with the more moms who nurse in public, the less of a big deal it will be.
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