Fae Church found somewhere ‘quiet’ to breastfeed her three-month-old son Reuben (Pictures: BPM Media)
A mum said she felt ‘humiliated’ after a museum volunteer told her she couldn’t breastfeed because no food or drink was allowed inside.
Fae Church and her husband Aaron, both 35, took their five-year-old daughter Sophie and three-month-old son Reuben to the University Museum of Zoology, in Cambridge, last Saturday.
Reuben started to cry, so Fae found a ‘quiet corner’ to feed him while Aaron took Sophie to keep looking at the exhibits.
Fae said: ‘I positioned myself with a pillar to my back and my buggy in front of me to act as a screen – I try and be as private as I possibly can with it.’
The mum was ‘quite happily’ breastfeeding when she noticed a woman who worked at the museum walk past and give her a ‘sort of funny sideways glance’.
Fae told her: ‘I hope you don’t mind, I just made this my breastfeeding corner.’
Fae Church said the experience made her feel ‘about three inches high’ (Picture: BPM Media)
Fae was ‘stunned’ at the reaction to something so natural (Picture: BPM Media)
After some silence, the woman replied: ‘Actually no, it’s not ok because no food and drink are allowed to be consumed in the museum. There is a café upstairs, you should have gone there.’
Fae said: ‘I stared at her, my jaw slightly went open and I didn’t know what to say.
‘Especially from a woman, I found it quite shocking. She seemed disgruntled with me. It was just bizarre and it left me really shaken up.’
The couple, from Haverhill in Suffolk, did not have time to report the unpleasant experience but Fae said it affected her for a long time afterwards.
She explained: ‘I just couldn’t believe it. She was making me feel humiliated by it. I did just feel about three inches high in that moment, it wasn’t nice.
‘It was the way she said it – there wasn’t any kindness from her comments.
‘Breastfeeding is hard and exhausting and you have to really persevere to do it, just generally.
‘We should all be supporting each other, especially as a woman, she should support me to be doing something that’s natural, and the best thing I can possibly do for my child, it’s quite shameful behaviour.’
The University Museum of Zoology states on its website: ‘Breastfeeding and bottle feeding is welcomed in all Museum spaces.’
The museum apologised and issued a statement which reads: ‘On behalf of all the staff and volunteers at the Museum of Zoology we can only apologise wholeheartedly for what happened to Fae and the way she was made to feel.
‘We absolutely allow and welcome breastfeeding and bottle-feeding in all our public spaces. We pride ourselves on being a family-friendly museum and it’s terrible that a visitor was treated in this manner. The volunteer she spoke to made an unfortunate mistake, one which is not reflective of our culture or policy.
‘As soon as we were made aware of what had happened, we shared it with the whole volunteer and staff team. We’ve ensured that they know how important it is that visitors should feel comfortable breastfeeding and bottle-feeding in the Museum, to avoid visitors being left feeling the way she has been, with some specific pointers about how they can support parents who ask about quieter spots they can use.
‘We will also be more specific about this in inductions for new volunteers working in the galleries. Our visitor engagement volunteers are typically an incredibly supportive team, helping people get the most out of their visits – it’s so unusual that things go wrong in the way they have here. We are hopeful that with these extra communications, events like this won’t happen again.’
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The mum said she felt ‘humiliated’ and ‘shaken up’.