Breastfeeding mother told to cover up in Claridge's to avoid causing other guests 'offence'

Staff members asked Lousie Burns to cover herself with a large napkin

Heather Saul
Tuesday 02 December 2014 15:33

The exclusive Claridge’s hotel has been widely criticised for asking a woman to cover herself with a “ridiculous shroud” while breastfeeding her three-month-old daughter.

Lousie Burns said she burst into tears when staff members at the five-star venue asked her to cover herself and her baby with an oversized napkin in order to avoid “causing offence” to other guests.

The mother-of-three was enjoying afternoon tea in the main Tea Room on Monday when the incident happened.

Ms Burns, who is married to actor Nick Burns - best known for the comic character Nathan Barley, told The Evening Standard waiters rushed over and covered her when she began feeding her daughter.

She said the incident was so embarrassing she could now “never go back”.

“I was so shocked and humiliated,” Ms Burns said.

“I have three children and this is the first time I have been able to breastfeed properly. Women are under so much pressure to breastfeed and it is not always easy. I did not expect to be made to feel I have done something wrong."

A senior manager came over after seeing how upset she was, but reportedly refused to back down.

Ms Burns then attempted to use the napkin but her daughter was distressed, and management eventually relented – providing other customers did not complain.

“I felt so awkward. They said they were very sorry and wanted to see me back there, but I was so appalled by my treatment. I was not out there with my boobs out. I was so discreet one of the waiters did not even realise I was breastfeeding.”

Ms Burns said she wanted to walk out but the day had been organised months in advance by her mother, who was visiting from the Midlands.

A spokesperson for Claridge’s said it could not comment on individual guests, but did say: “Of course we allow women to breastfeed - we just ask them to be discreet”.

The spokesperson repeated this statement when asked if it was policy to ask women to cover themselves while breastfeeding their children.

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