A mother has had her breast pump ‘snapped in half’ and thrown out by a manager who believed she was doing drugs in a bar while expressing milk in the toilets, it has been alleged.
Natalie Read, 39, who had given birth nine weeks ago was expressing milk while on her first night in Portsmouth when the bar manager entered the women’s toilets, it’s claimed.
Her friend Natalee Cooper said the 39-year-old mother-of-four was expressing in a toilet cubicle while some of their party – all mothers aged 29 to 39 – used the toilets, laughed and joked and waited for her to finish.
Ms Cooper then claims the male manager entered the women’s bathroom to ‘check’ on the group as he believed they were ‘up to no good’ and told them to leave the toilets.
Back in the bar, she said her friend ‘dripped’ some of the washed breast pump onto the floor and the manager came over a second time.
He then made a comment about drugs, she claims, and ‘sent us home’.
Under the Equality Act 2010, service providers must not discriminate or harass breastfeeding women.
A mother has had her breast pump ‘snapped in half’ and thrown out by a manager who believed she was doing drugs in a bar while expressing milk in the toilets, it has been alleged. Pictured: Back L to R Natalie Reade, Natalee Cooper, Alex Bungay and front L to R Samantha Spreadbury, Sian Cooper and Kerry Cooper in front of the Emporium Bar in Southsea
Natalee Cooper said her friend Natalie Read was on her first night out at the Emporium Bar (pictured) in Portsmouth after giving birth nine weeks ago when the girl group went to the toilets
Ms Coope added: ‘They say men and women might come in to clean the toilet, but there was no warning or “girls, I’m coming in”. He literally just barged in.
‘We were just in there having a laugh, taking pictures and things. But it was his attitude and the way he was shouting at us.’
She claims the unnamed manager also ‘insinuated’ they were doing drugs.
To prove they were not taking drugs and that it was just breast milk, three of the women tasted it.
But, Ms Cooper said the manager bizarrely compared it to spiking a drink and branded them ‘disgusting’.
When stay-at-home-mother Ms Reade tried to put her pump back in her bag, the manager saw a small amount of liquid spill onto the floor.
Ms Cooper said: ‘This is when the manager stormed over, reached into her bag, snatched her breast pump out of her hands as she was trying to put it back in, snapped it in half and chucked it in the bin.
‘Then he kicked us out of the [bar] entirely.’
Ms Cooper, from Waterlooville, near Portsmouth, added: ‘We weren’t being confrontational, we weren’t fighting or smashed drunk.
‘We’d been in [nearby bar] Rapscallions earlier and Natalie had been expressing at the table, and there was no problem. The staff there were lovely.
‘If she doesn’t express regularly it can be very painful – and it can be dangerous. It was Natalie’s first time out since having her baby.
‘She was so upset after this though, she just wanted to go straight home. She had no other way of expressing milk now anyway, so she had to get a taxi back to her home in Southampton.
‘There’s been no apology, no offer to replace the broken pump. That’s all we wanted.’
Nurse Sam Spreadbury (left) said this was their first night out for a year and that Ms Reade (right) was ‘nervous’ about leaving her baby at home.
What does the law say on breastfeeding?
The Equality Act 2010 says that it is discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.
What does that mean?
Discrimination includes refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service or providing a service on different terms. Therefore, a cafe owner cannot ask you to stop breastfeeding, ask you to move or cover up or refuse to serve you.
Where can you breastfeed?
You are protected in public places such as parks, sports and leisure facilities, public buildings and when using public transport such as buses, trains and planes. You are protected in shops, public, restaurants and hotels regardless of how big of small. You are also protected in places like hospitals, theatres, cinemas and petrol stations.
Nurse Sam Spreadbury said this was their first night out for a year and that Ms Reade was ‘nervous’ about leaving her baby at home.
The 34-year-old from Chandler’s Ford said: ‘We are in 2022 and breastfeeding mums feel they need to hide away.
‘In my profession I tell mums they don’t need to hide away but this incident almost sets us back 30 years.
‘We are so angry, it ruined our night. We all go out once a year and Natalie was not going to come, she was nervous about leaving the baby and this has knocked her confidence right down.
‘At half six in the evening, to accuse a bunch of average mums on a mums’ night out of doing drugs [..]- it’s unbelievable.
‘The manager was so aggressive, so angry.’
The friends have received waves of support from social media users after Ms Cooper posted about the incident online.
On its Facebook page, Emporium said: ‘We do not and have not ever had an issue with expressing or breast feeding.
‘We hold events here like children’s parties and also baby showers and these things are expected so it would be no different on a Saturday evening.
‘Our toilets are attended by both male and female attendants which is stated on signs.’
The bar also told the MailOnline: ‘We will not be commenting on the anymore as we have spoken to the correct authorities and dealing with it properly in regards to this matter.
‘We will be taking legal action where it is needed and no more will be said on the matter by us.’