Welsh Wittering: breastfeeding snubbed at WTM London 2018
Last Tuesday I was in London and was looking forward to attending the World Travel Market Show 2018. Over the past twelve months I have been working hard to get my blog site stats up and find my blogging niche and now with site traffic of 5,000 a day it seems I’ve cracked it. My tales of travelling with children and food nostalgia have been popular and I saw the WTM as a great opportunity to make some contacts and promote my blog site further. Sadly my plans were thwarted as the curse of the breastfeeding, working mother struck.
I’ve breastfed all four of my daughters and throughout each of my pregnancies and their early years I have juggled being mummy, working and breastfeeding, however, despite government campaigns to promote women breastfeeding and indeed returning to work there is still a great big barrier for us women that want to be ‘mumpreneurs’ and I walked straight into one of these barriers when I attempted to enter the WTM show on Tuesday.
I had registered for the show and had my ticket in my hand as I approached the entrance of the show. However, the ticket was not required because before I could utter a word, a security guard stepped into my path; it seems I was carrying cargo that violated the show rules. The cargo was my baby daughter, Beatrice who is just a few months old and breastfed. ‘You can’t bring that in’, were the words uttered by the security guard. Quickly he was joined by his colleague a female security guard who said very abruptly, ‘we have a no under 16’s policy at the show. You can’t bring her in’. I explained she was breastfed and that I had travelled over 250 miles to get to the show, but I was told that I couldn’t speak to any organizers and that there was a strict no under 16’s policy in place.
I felt myself shrink with defeat, a sense of failure and an unexplained feeling of shame fall over me. I couldn’t understand why I felt so sad and ashamed as I walked away from those security guards and then it struck me as I sat feeding Beatrice and enjoying a coffee: for years I have battled against the glass ceiling that is still in full force against women who want careers and children and I have encountered questions of professionalism from business associates and scathing comments about the fact that I work, from stay at home mothers and the reality is that I often feel torn between wanting to play with my little ones and having to stick to a deadline and I’m guilty of emotionally beating myself up for not being superwoman and achieving everything I set out to in a day plus being super happy, fun and patient mummy; but it is my choice to work and have children and too often I am made to feel guilty about wanting more than a life filled with just soiled nappies and Peppa Pig.
I love my children dearly and I love spending time with them, but I also love being an individual outside of being a mother. Being turned away from the WTM on Tuesday made me ashamed for trying, for trying and failing to be a mother and writer at the same time. I have tried so very hard to pave a path for me to work with and around my young family, but where rules exclude breastfed babies that cannot be separated from their working mothers, then it just becomes very tiring, impossible and extremely disheartening.
It seems to me that little credit is given to mothers who are prepared to put the hours in as mum and worker. I have been asked to feed my breast fed baby in toilets and was once asked to move off a bench where I was feeding my baby in a shopping precinct so shoppers could sit down there. On this occasion I was informed that the bench I was sat on was for shoppers and that there was a Mothercare store with a designated room I could use on the next level.
I think there needs to be more support and recognition for mothers who choose to work with their little ones in their arms or indeed at their desks. It’s not an easy task and sometimes a little understanding would be great.
As for WTM I wrote an e-mail to them explaining my 500 mile round trip and great disappointment, as well as asking them to review their policy, however, it seems that my plight did not rate a reply.
It is a greatly saddening situation that in 2018 and amongst the big push on the health benefits of breastfeeding that I wasn’t even addressed sympathetically or in an understanding manner. Next year I’ll attend without my baby, but playing candy crush saga on my mobile phone, wearing headphones that blur out some inaudible and highly irritating base beat and taking selfies every two seconds as unlike a breastfeeding a baby these are all acceptable activities.
Next week we’ll look at why when dining out , a plastic tab is never acceptable served in a young child’s meal and it doesn’t matter whether a chef recognizes it or not.