Breast feeding flash mob stage demo
A HARDY group of mothers staged a breastfeeding flash-mob demonstration in a city centre to declare their right to feed their babies in public.
Up to 40 mothers, some accompanied by their partners, descended on Brighton, East Sussex, and breastfed their children in front of Christmas shoppers.
Claire Jones-Hughes, 38, organised the demonstration after she was criticised by customers in a cafe for breastfeeding one of her daughters last week.
She was confronted by a group of four middle-aged women and a man in her favourite vegetarian restaurant, Wai Kika Moo Kau, after feeding four-month-old Callie.
Mrs Jones-Hughes said: "One woman said, 'It was very unpleasant watching you feed. You should have covered up more.'
"When I protested, the others joined in, and the man said, 'You should have used a towel.'
"I was really shocked, especially as I'd gone to a lot of effort to be discreet.
"You usually get nice comments when you're with a baby, and I couldn't believe I was having this conversation.
"In their world, it was completely unnatural that they should see me doing that."
Despite the support of another customer, Mrs Jones-Hughes was visibly shaken and reduced to tears by the incident.
She said: "After they left, the manager came over to ask what happened and was mortified when I told him.
"When I calmed down it reminded me of all the stories I've heard from other women who've had similar experiences."
After drumming up support online, Mrs Jones-Hughes encouraged other women to brave the cold to feed their babies as part of the flash mob at the Clock Tower.
The customer services manager, who also has a three-year-old daughter Lexie, said she hoped the event would give confidence to mothers who are nervous about breastfeeding in public.
She said: "I've had comments from all over the country about how great it is to make a stand.
"I've got two daughters who may have children themselves one day. If they choose to breastfeed in the future I'd never want anyone to make them feel how I felt."
Local NCT committee member Suzanne Borrell said: "There is an assumption that Brighton is generally seen as a very tolerant, broad-minded community but as this and previous unpleasant episodes show, nowhere is safe from such bigotry."
Faruk Bulut, the owner of the cafe in Brighton's Kensington Gardens, said he supported the right of mothers to breastfeed their children where they want.
He added: "The restaurant was very busy when the incident happened so I wasn't aware of it until afterwards.
"We support the idea that mothers should feel free to feed their babies and we never make it difficult for them. In fact, the cafe is very popular with mothers."