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Mum Calls Out Sainsbury's After 'Upsetting' Breastfeeding Experience

Lucy Devine

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| Last updated 

Mum Calls Out Sainsbury's After 'Upsetting' Breastfeeding Experience

Featured Image Credit: Beth Coles/Shutterstock

A mum was left in tears after an upsetting incident at a Sainsbury's store in Kidderminster, Worcestershire last week.

Beth Coles, 25 - who welcomed her baby girl, Rosie, four weeks ago - visited the Sainsbury's branch with her partner James, on Friday (24 June).

Beth, who has been struggling with postnatal depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD), explained that shortly after she arrived inside the supermarket, her little one started crying, so she took her to the car for a feed.

But Beth says she was left in tears, claiming a member of staff from the store knocked on her car window just moments later and asked her to stop breastfeeding her daughter because she deemed it 'inappropriate'.

Beth says she was told to stop breastfeeding. Credit: Beth Coles
Beth says she was told to stop breastfeeding. Credit: Beth Coles

"On Friday evening we went to Sainsbury's, I thought, I feel alright, there won't be many people in there and my daughter was fast asleep, so I thought we would all go in," Beth tells Tyla.

Beth explains that after heading into the store, her daughter started crying, so she took her back to the car to breastfeed while her partner continued with the shopping.

"I put a muslin and a blanket on top of me, with my t-shirt still on, so I was completely covered," she continues.

"A female member of staff walked out of the store and knocked on the window. She said, 'can you stop doing that, I think it's inappropriate'.

"I didn't have a verbal response, I just started crying. My other half came out shortly afterwards to me bawling my eyes out."

Beth says she rang the store the next day and asked to speak to a manager about what had happened, wanting to make them aware of the incident.

"He said he would talk to staff and put it on their messenger board, which didn't feel like a response," says Beth, who also emailed Sainsbury's about the incident.

Beth says she received a response from Sainsbury's, offering her a £40 voucher and explaining they would talk to staff.

"I don't want anyone fired, just an apology is all I want. It doesn't even need to be a personalised apology to me, even if they just responded saying they acknowledged a member of staff had done something wrong, that we as a company apologise - that would be good enough," she says.

Beth welcomed Rosie four weeks ago. Credit: Beth Coles
Beth welcomed Rosie four weeks ago. Credit: Beth Coles

While Beth originally shared her experience in a breastfeeding support group, the incident has since gone viral on Twitter after the founder of the group tweeted Sainsbury's, explaining: “Hi @sainsburys, can you please ensure your staff at Kidderminster branch understand the laws around breastfeeding.

"At 8:30 pm last night a female member of staff in uniform approached a breastfeeding mother in the car park of your store, and told her she was not allowed to breastfeed there because they 'didn't think it was appropriate'.

"First of all this is illegal but secondly, has really upset and knocked the confidence of a first-time mother suffering with postnatal depression. Please deal with this ASAP."

The supermarket responded: "I'm sorry for your experience with this colleague. Could you please DM us a description of this colleague? I'll pass this information to the store."

And in a further comment to Tyla, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We have apologised to Ms Coles for this unacceptable experience and we have reassured her that breastfeeding is very welcome in our stores.

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

Beth says she would like an apology. Credit: Alamy
Beth says she would like an apology. Credit: Alamy

It is illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport.

In fact, The Equality Act 2010 says that it is discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.

Topics: Life, Parenting, Sainsburys

Lucy Devine
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