Despite the growing prevalence of women opting to breastfeed in public, there are still those who are being turned away from public places or being asked to cover up while trying to feed their child. Such was the experience of one breastfeeding mom who allegedly wasn't allowed on a bus in England. The reason behind her rejection was reportedly due to supposed "health concerns," but her experience is just one piece of a larger puzzle of discrimination against breastfeeding mothers.
As the BBC reported, Katherine Guest is a 22-year-old mother who was on her way to a medical appointment in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England. While waiting for the bus that would take her to her check-up, Guest decided to breastfeed her 10-week-old son Zachary. According to the BBC, she said that the driver of her bus allegedly turned her away when she tried to enter because of he feared her son would choke.
Being turned away from the bus was not the experience that Guest expected. She told the BBC:
I expected to just walk straight on to the bus without any problems. I didn't think twice about it when the doors opened and I stepped on. But the driver turned around and said "I can't let you on here." When I asked why not, he said it was because of the potential health and safety risks associated with breastfeeding.
In response to Guest's allegations, as the BBC reported, Jamie Crowsley, the general manager of the Shropshire area at the bus company, Arriva Midlands, told reporters that his firm was unable to discuss details about the case until an investigation into the matter was concluded. He told the BBC:
Our drivers do have a duty to ensure the safety of our passengers as they get on and off our buses and during their journeys and are mindful of this responsibility at all times.
Guest, for her part, is not seeking any sort of major compensation for the issue. According to the BBC, she said:
All I want is some sort of apology and recognition that mums should be allowed to breastfeed in public.
Unfortunately, experiences such as this are all too common for the modern mom. It seems like every day there is a new story about a mom being shamed for feeding her child. Fortunately, more women are stepping up and speaking out about the injustice of situations like Guest's and, in many states in America at least, the law is on their side.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands have laws in place to allow women to breastfeed in public. Due to the legality of the act, it would seem that the stories of shaming stem from a cultural discomfort rather than a legal barrier. And as such, this puts the power in the hands of the people to demand recognition, like Guest has chosen to do following her infuriating experience.