For as long as we can remember, there's been an ongoing battle between supporters of breastfeeding and supporters of formula feeding. Now, a mother from the United Kingdom is speaking out about actually being publicly shamed for not breastfeeding her baby. In an open letter to Tesco supermarket, Laura Leeks explains how a staff member told her they could not give her a free parking voucher because the store "cannot endorse" formula feeding.
"I am delighted that you as a company support breastfeeding, however I cannot accept that your policies lead to your staff shaming women who for whatever reason are using baby formula," she wrote on Facebook. Although the concept itself seems downright appalling, Leeks went further by sharing her personal story about her son's health condition — why she isn't able to breastfeed. "When my baby boy was 15 days old he stopped breathing at home," she wrote, explaining that after thankfully being stabilized, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. After her son had surgery, he was not able to tolerate the high-fat content of breast milk and was fed low-fat milk through a feeding tube.
"During this whole time I continued to express my milk and when he was able to tolerate fat, we attempted to re-establish breast feeding," Leeks wrote. "Unfortunately as he was still in recovery from this major surgery, the effort needed to breastfeed was too much stress for him and we had to resort to bottle feeding. Inevitably despite my best attempt my milk production could not meet his demand and I had no choice but to supplement with formula feed."
Leeks closed her letter, writing that her "superhero" baby boy is now "5 months old and fighting fit." Although she did feel badly she could not breastfeed her son, she's confident in the formula she uses. "I do not however need to be 'guilt-tripped' by a Tesco employee who has absolutely no knowledge of my circumstances. I applaud your commitment to support breastfeeding, however this does not mean you should abuse women who do not breastfeed," Leeks wrote.
Her open letter shocked many parents and gained so much attention that a Tesco customer care representative replied with an apology explaining their policy.