Claridge’s asks breastfeeding mom to cover up. Wrong?

There’s a small kerfuffle in London today after a woman tweeted pictures of her breastfeeding her baby in the Claridge’s hotel restaurant. The problem? Hotel staff asked her to discretely cover up so as not to “cause offence at Claridge’s” and a spokeswoman for the hotel said that they simply ask that all “mothers are discreet towards other guests.”

In case you’ve never heard of Claridge’s, it’s a very expensive luxury hotel in the heart of the trendy Mayfair area of London and hosts celebrities, royalty and heads of state. It was founded in the early 1800s and according to a great article in the Daily Mail, it’s the swankiest place in England, with a night’s stay costing up to £7,000.

Claridge's Luxury Hotel Mayfair London England UK

It’s favored by Victoria Beckham, Anne Hathaway, Joan Collins and the band U2, among many others. So it’s not exactly Motel 6 in Sparks, Nevada, needless to say.

Louise Burns was apparently breastfeeding her baby in the restaurant when an official from the hotel, one of its 400 staff, asked her to cover up.

Here are the two photos she posted:

louise burns asked to cover up while breastfeeding at claridge's hotel

The photos definitely undermine her complaint that she was “humiliated” by the hotel staff, in my opinion, but I’ll also say that the picture of her nursing her baby is quite discreet too (though whether it was prior to her posing for the “before” picture is another story, one we don’t know).

More importantly, I believe that it’s appropriate and within the rights of the hotel to ask that a mother cover up while breastfeeding her baby. They didn’t ask her to leave, they didn’t make a fuss, they simply asked for some level of discretion out of respect for other guests of the hotel. A hotel where some of the guests are from the Middle East and other regions where they have far more restrictive expectations of both male and female modesty, I’ll note.

Personally, I think this is much ado about nothing but I know people are quite passionate, even militant about breastfeeding and the seemingly immeasurable rights of nursing women, so I expect there’ll be disagreement in the comments here.

What’s your opinion? Was Claridge’s wrong to ask Ms. Burns to cover up?

8 comments on “Claridge’s asks breastfeeding mom to cover up. Wrong?

  1. I agree with you. When I had to breast feed my daughter in public, which I tried hard to avoid. I always ‘covered’ with a coat, shawl or at the very least one of her little blankets or even a diaper draped over my shoulder and across the ‘activity’. I did it to respect the discomfort it might have caused others. This was around 1978 and I had enough self respect to behave in an appropriate manner while in public. I’m reminded of an admonishment about personal rights ending at the interface of someone else and their personal rights.

  2. You know my thoughts on the subject already, but I feel they’re worth repeating until we have a little more decorum. 🙂 I’ve definitely seen worse than the “before” photo, but I still don’t want to see a woman breastfeeding in public. I appreciate the hotel asking her to cover up. How is that “humiliating?” How is it such a great inconvenience to drape a blanket over oneself? Had I been there, I would have thanked the hotel staff, and celebrated them for upholding their establishment as a classy one. And being such a nice hotel, I’m sure they had a perfectly comfortable and well-appointed bathroom where she could have nursed her child.

  3. It is distracting. But certainly within the rights of the mother to breastfeed at the table. I don’t think the mother should have to leave the ambiance of the restaurant, and remove her and her child to a bathroom, no matter how swanky. If patrons are distracted, a blanket of sorts is the proper solution and the business should have some available for the mom’s who don’t have one.

    • No matter how swanky a restaurant a toilet is a toilet Not appropriate to feed the most vulnerable little babies. I do not believe there is anything classy about ushering a woman into a bathroom for baby to have his milk with the pleasant aroma of a 5*millionaires poop.I think in order for our society to get over it handing out giant shawls that cover the babies entire head and draw further attention to the situation is not the best way to deal with it either. I don’t see why a woman sitting on another table need to be a distraction except to busybodies it’s easily ignored and if people have their own conversations rather then concentrating on others behaviour it should not be a distraction at all. Accusing women with this argument of being militant feminists determined to force their breasts on society is just an easy put down to shut down the argument.we should put prudishness aside for the health benefits breastfeeding can provide

  4. I have 4 children and was breastfeeding the first 3 in stinking toilets when they were small if I was out . for shame. I hate that me and many other women are made to feel like sluts for feeding tiny babies in public . In some Muslim countries a woman’s hair is offensive but in Britain lets not pander to that ideology we are educated to know breastfeeding is better for babies so allow women to feel comfortable. My 4th baby has cystic fibrosis and as a result of needing to be extra careful about picking up bacteria I never fed him in a toilet however I never felt comfortable to feed in public and literally spent 6 months not leaving my house ….it’s time to move on beaches have topless sunbathers. people without small babes in tow are in a easy position to move if offended leave breastfeeding mothers alone parenting is hard enough without judgement.

      • Is it really too much to turn away if you don’t like it or do you feel the need look and then moan about it.As I said I didn’t do it myself and certainly wouldn’t have some huge shawl put over my babies head ie the pic which seems more like attention seeking but each to their own.

  5. first time i saw a breastfeeder in public i was 17, a waiter at bakers square. she was in my section. it was awkard for me for like three or maybe six seconds, after that i didnt really care.

    20 years later, still dont care.

    my wife breastfeeds, and while i was a little upset by it (only because it was harder initially to get into a rhythm versus formula/bottle feeding, therefore harder on us), now i am pretty happy. it is hands down scientifically the best thing for a baby, so after i learned a little more i’m very happy she chose that route (i didnt care so it didnt have to be a co-decision). now that im aware of it, i notice brast feeders a lot more often, but i also notice and hear of people hiding in bathrooms a lot more often. and that is awful. and just another indictment against our values and education as a society in general. we should continue to educate people on how breastfeeding is the most beneficial (side bonus : and economical) for baby and mom. so we should embrace it.

    but we wont, because in general as a society we tend to be far more involved in things that do not make sense, rather than focus on what does.

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