First, let’s be real. Breastfeeding in public sucks. Regardless if your boobs out/covered, whatever, I’d much rather be home breastfeeding surrounded by pillows in my pajamas with a box set of Friends nearby rather than on a park bench next to some random person who I can’t tell whether or not they’re offended by me feeding my screaming newborn.
So that aside, I had my first real restaurant experience this past week and let me tell you, it was horrible which is why I’m writing this post to perhaps help promote change within the food industry to accommodate breastfeeding mothers. And no, I’m not saying you should change entire layouts of restaurants or wait on me hand and foot. These are very simple suggestions that hopefully will allow me to feel more confident eating out which is my friggin right regardless of what’s stuck on my nipple.
The restaurant was Vapiano Ltd. which on a regular non-mommy day, I would probably have enjoyed thoroughly. It’s essentially a cafeteria style joint where you choose a table then go to various counters to get your food instead of being served. They give you a little menu and from there you go to whichever counter you require.
Looking through the menu, there wasn’t a lot of options for me unfortunately. My little girl seems to be quite sensitive when it comes to what I eat, so I need to be extremely careful else face the consequences with a night of screaming child. I chose the Gamberetti which I thought was safe. Boy was I wrong… The menu read king prawns, tomatoes, spring onions, tomato sauce, fresh lemon. Well, perhaps I’m just not familiar with Italian dishes, but I didn’t think this would be hot and the menu had no indication to say so, but OMG, it was pretty freaking hot and unfortunately hot foods are a no no for my little girl as it’ll go straight through her. I ended up having to trade dishes with my husband who wasn’t really a fan of hot stuff in general all because I made a pretty understandable mix up. If there was something on the menu to say “this food is hot” that would’ve been lovely.
Now when it came to feeding, that was another challenge. Granted, I should’ve known, feeding with a cover in a restaurant when you can’t hear your infant is pretty much a death sentence. I never saw her so upset before. So that’s when I decided to scope out a space to park with my little one. There was a little stool area setup outside of the women’s restroom, but it looked more like a decoration than a place for me to breastfeed so I decided that it would probably be best to sit in a restroom stall. The views were… lovely.
Granted, I wasn’t expecting much, but ugh, if I didn’t feel like more of a criminal for breastfeeding… so for this all I ask is that perhaps restaurants start to include a small room or couch in a designated safe space for breastfeeding. Many use the old, why don’t you just go to the car and breastfeed? Well, driving in London is probably one of the hardest things to do and we don’t even own a car… to those people I ask should my child suffer just because I didn’t pack a car to breastfeed her in?…
My back ached so much by the end of feeding, but at least my girl was fed… and I was to go back to my meal, but of course, this wasn’t the end. My baby had to have her diaper changed and, of course, there was no changing facility.
Granted, I knew that there was a slim chance that there would be as I believed this to be a mostly “adult” restaurant, I suppose changing facilities aren’t too attractive, but it would’ve been nice to not have to balance my child on the side of a sink and instead safely on a changing table.
After all this, I noticed something about the restaurant that confused me. There were high chairs. High chairs. They were accommodating for children to eat at the restaurant, but not if they messed their pants? It just seemed a bit odd. Or perhaps it’s because they could find high chairs that matched their style… but really I just couldn’t understand how a restaurant could supply high chairs and not a changing facility.
I don’t want to be a mother who is scared of going out to eat. As a mother, there are nights where I don’t want to cook or eat crap takeaway and I don’t want to have to worry about whether a restaurant would accommodate people in my situation. Granted, I know I won’t be able to go to the super expensive restaurants for a while
as rich people who eat out don’t seem to be okay with children fullstop but if a restaurant offers high chairs, they should offer the whole shabang. A safe space for breastfeeding, a changing table, and information on the ingredients in their meals along with whether or not they’re spicy. It would just help me out and other gals like me out.