Saturday 24 July 2010

Breastfeeding and babies on the bonnie bonnie banks

Joe, Alexander and I attended the wedding of one of his work colleagues, Paul Stevenson, yesterday. His bride, Pamela, was happy for us to bring our wee one along, as being the mother to two small children herself, she knew how hard it would be for us to leave Alexander with anyone else! The wedding was wonderful - they're a great couple, and I wish them the very best.

Alexander was very well behaved, sleeping through most of the church service, and indeed most of the meal and dancing. This was the first big day out we'd had, so I expected a few challenges during the course of the day.

After the church service in Luss, we needed somewhere to change the wee guy. I'd noticed a baby changing facility at the pier, but on the way back we were met with the wondrous smell of food wafting from the Coach House restaurant. We popped in, Alexander was immediately cooed over and we were pointed in the direction of the baby changing facilities.

This was the first time I'd used these, thus far changing him at family homes or in my office. I was hugely impressed. It was quite cosy (I probably should have left the pram outside!) and doubled as a disabled loo, but spotlessly clean and well appointed. There was a cabinet on the wall filled with spare nappies, cotton wool, wipes, nappy sacks and even wee bottles of food for older babies. The changing table had big paper towels to lie him on. It's great to see such an effort to accommodate babies. I was felt relaxed and quite at home feeding him in the restaurant afterwards. I should also say that the Coach House's food was also ace - huge chunks of real ham with redcurrant jelly in a giant roll, and lovely spicy gingerbread! Definitely worth a return visit.

We then headed off to the wedding reception at the posh and expensive Cameron House.
This is where things were a little less easy. I (perhaps naively) got changed into a pretty frock. I could breastfeed discreetly out of one side of said frock, but the other required somewhere a bit more private. I did some exploring and eventually found the baby changing area. It had a sink, two small towels, a bin and a fold-down changing table situated directly under a spotlight, presumably for infant interrogation purposes. There was no chair to sit in, so I had to sit on the cold, tiled floor on one of the towels. Not particularly comfortable, or easy to get up from while holding a baby. The towels weren't changed during the course of the evening.

Later in the evening, when he needed to feed again, I thought I would ask if there was somewhere more suitable. I was led wordlessly by a senior-looking member of staff back up the stairs and all the way back to the baby changing room. I pointed out there was no chair. Instead of perhaps going and finding me a chair (I wasn't going to drag one through from another room myself while holding a baby!), he looked back at me blankly, had a quick swatch in the disabled loo next door (not sure for why?!), and decided I could use his office.
Not sure what would have happened if I'd been visiting during the day when people were working! So there I sat in an office chair feeding my baby, looking at the stats posters on the walls showing much Cameron House needed to extract from people's wallets to make a profit.

Incidentally, I wasn't the only person at the wedding with a baby - the bride has a five month old daughter, and her sister, the bridesmaid, has recently given birth to a tiny baby boy. I suppose they had rooms to go to, but that can't be guaranteed for all guests at a wedding.

While I'm fairly happy to breastfeed in public and know that the law in Scotland allows me to do so, it's not always appropriate. Furthermore, some women just won't feel comfortable breastfeeding in a public place for a variety of reasons. It's a bit of a poor show that an establishment with the reputation of Cameron House fails to provide facilities for baby changing or feeding to match those of the small family-run restaurant down the road. I've written to the manager to ask what they intend to do to make improvements.


Unknown said...

Thank you for pursuing this with the managers. I always used to give very detailed feedback to places about breastfeeding facilities, praising good ones to hilt and hoping shockingly bad ones would change.

Massive congratulations on being organised enough to get out for a whole day with the wee guy. We went to NCT catch up when A was 3 weeks old & it took us hours to get out & many changes of clothes for me & her.

I also applaud bride and groom for understanding that mum & baby come as package.

Avril said...

Good for you Alison - you really would expect better from an establishment with a reputation for quality such as this one has. I have arranged Breast Feeding Friendly Training for my Nursery School Staff in August to make sure we support and encourage nursing mums -sounds like Cameron House needs to do something similar.

wee folding bike said...

A few weeks after the Kelvingrove Galleries reopened in '06 we had occasion to feed boy number 4.

It might have changed now but at that time the only place we were offered was the education wing in the basement which has floor to ceiling windows.

BellgroveBelle said...

Thanks for your comments - I was quite surprised that I could manage! The bride and groom were great, they even had a place for him at our table complete with name tag.

wee folding bike - I will check that out, quite prepared to use what limited influence I have to improve Council (and arms length!) facilities.

Vonnie said...

Although I'd disagree with your comment that sometimes it's not appropriate to breastfeed, I agree with everything else you've posted. I'm sadly not surprised that Cameron House was so poorly equipped, I had a similar experience with my eldest about 8 years ago but hoped they'd have upped their game by now.

Thank you for pursuing it! I look forward to hearing how you get on.

BellgroveBelle said...

Hi Vonnie, thanks for your comment - just been looking at your blog, and will certainly be following from now on.

On 'appropriateness' - I know what you mean, but I was wearing a frock which I ended up half taking off to feed the wee guy! Probably not the best thing I could've worn, I'll know better next time.

Vonnie said...

Thanks Alison! Apologies for miscontruing you. I did actually have a similar experience last year in a Monsoon number which had a zip down one side. By the time I got home from that wedding I had one regular sized breast and one Pamela Anderson effort!