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Breastfeeding on Cross Country trains - a horrid experiance

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MNHQ have commented on this thread.

Paulala Thu 07-Aug-14 23:11:34

Hello ladies, I'm a first time poster & a first time mum so apologies if I introduce myself by way of a horrid experience but I'd like to know if you think I'm being unreasonable.

I've just taken my first train journey with my 7 month old boy, we were travelling alone to Derby with everything we needed for a week on a Cross Country train. Everything was going ok until we returned to our seat from a nappy change. The nappy change itself was quite upsetting for him, being strapped to a table in a moving urine soaked metal cubical isn't very pleasant, but I hadn't expected a lot from the facilities.

I intended to give him a breastfeed at our seat but when we got there the seat beside us was occupied (we were in a set on 2 seats not a table of 4). I asked the man sitting in the seat if it would be possible for him to move to one of the single vacant seats 3 rows up just while I breastfed so I could have a little bit of privacy. He said No & stated that was the seat he was allocated why should he move.

I asked him again saying my baby needed to be fed, he was hungry & distressed & there were empty seats in view he could use. He said I should move there instead, this really wouldn't have helped as they were single aisle seats & would have meant I'd have to feed even more publicly. I was so upset I asked him if he expected me to breastfeed in the seat beside him with him watching & he just shrugged his shoulders.

At this point everyone close by was aware of the situation & I'm still standing in the aisle with an upset baby, this man hasn't even got up to allow us to sit down. The ticket inspector then arrives & I explain to him that the man in the seat beside us is causing a lot of distress with his insistence on sitting there while I breastfed. Anyone who's traveled by train will know neighbouring seats offer no prospect of personal space.

I fully understand his right to the seat he booked but both he & I could see other seats he could have taken until I stopped feeding then he could have returned to the seat he booked when we finished. I'm sure many men would have been totally ok with doing that. Instead he was nasty & snarly & the thought of him watching me feed my baby in such a tight space was horrible. I had no option but to ask the ticket inspector to help me find another seat & to help me move all my things, we would also need the assistant at Derby station to be made aware we'd be on another carriage. All because this man would not move 3 rows up.

Still seating stubbornly in his seat the man recognised how upset he'd made me & stated loudly to everyone, right I'll move & asked the guard what he was going to do about it. The guard then said we'll sit you in first class sir don't worry about it you will be ok there. I couldn't believe it he'd made me suffer through a very public request to breastfeed privately (or as private as I could be) he'd initially insisted he would not move while I did so & left me feeling like I shouldn't be breastfeeding on a train, all while I stood with a distressed baby in a moving carriage while everyone watched. When the man eventually moved I sat & fed my baby & cried it was the worst breastfeeding experience I've ever had.

I have to travel back next week with the same train company & I'm dreading it, I can't express milk & I'm really worried something similar will happen again. I think trains should have a breastfeeding policy which recognises a womans need for privacy and a bit of respect. Not a system where men are rewarded for making women feel bad about the need to feed their babies. Do you think I'm being unreasonable?

Cheers ladies,

smellyfishead Thu 07-Aug-14 23:14:56

yabu and a bit precious imobiscuit what was wrong with sitting down next to him and just getting on with it? why the need to make a big scene?

BrianButterfield Thu 07-Aug-14 23:15:50

I don't think you can expect someone to move from their seat for you if there were free seats elsewhere that you could easily have moved to. If privacy is important to you, I would have asked the ticket inspector where to sit, or gone to the end of the carriage and sat on a fold down seat near the door if available.

Ok it would have been nice of him to move but you could have sat in your seat to feed or moved elsewhere.

loudarts Thu 07-Aug-14 23:16:37

Yanbu, I know some women would have probably just sat down and started feeding regardless of the man there, but like you I prefer a bit more privacy. The guard was also in the wrong, should have moved you to first class not the moany prick

rockybalboa Thu 07-Aug-14 23:17:51

YABU. You asked the man to move from his seat so you could have some privacy?!! The front of some people never fails to astound me.

Forgettable Thu 07-Aug-14 23:18:22


No one said you can't do that here

Ronmione Thu 07-Aug-14 23:18:24

I think trains should have a breastfeeding policy which recognises a womans need for privacy and a bit of respect. Not a system where men are rewarded for making women feel bad about the need to feed their babies.

As good as that sounds, there isn't enough space for everyone who wants to get on at certain times. Let alone providing privacy and personal space.

Who are you suggesting would pay for the additional space

Lauren83 Thu 07-Aug-14 23:19:18

Yabu I think

What if there were no empty seats what would you of expected him to do? If you're happy to BF on the train you have to accept you will need to do it in view of others, maybe see if you can book first class and do the threaten journey with more privacy?

If you hadn't asked him to move and drew attention to yourself and just leant in towards the window with your back to him chances are he might never of noticed anyway

I bet he felt embarrassed you asking him to move

BrianButterfield Thu 07-Aug-14 23:19:36

I think the guard might have moved OP had she gone to him first rather than remonstrating with the passenger next to her. The guard doesn't care about who's "winning" - from his point of view the man was being harangued by a random woman so he moved the man.

CoffeeTea103 Thu 07-Aug-14 23:20:26

Sorry but you came across horribly entitled. You were not prevented in any way from continuing bf. why should special allowances on trains be made. It was right that they moved him to something better as you caused him a lot of drama.

LottyLikesWindows Thu 07-Aug-14 23:20:34

What a beautiful baby! I can understand your worry OP - it's difficult travelling with a baby especially if you feel out of your comfort zone. At the same time I don't think I'd expect anyone to move for me if I was breastfeeding. I have fed my baby on trains and planes and have found a lack of space to be a bit of a hindrance but ultimately not a major problem in the grand scheme of things. Other passengers often avert their glance or busy themselves with a book or paper anyway. Honestly I haven't come across any titsperverts at all.

Hope your next experience is positive.

Paulala Thu 07-Aug-14 23:20:52

I did not create a scene I was quiet & discrete

YouAreMyRain Thu 07-Aug-14 23:21:21

You expected privacy on a train?! It could have been full to bursting. Very odd assumption. You don't generally get privacy for anything on a train.

PiperRose Thu 07-Aug-14 23:21:42

I'm sorry but you are being unreasonable. I'm all for breast-feeding in public but that's what it is and you need to be prepared for that. He had paid extra for his allocated seat and why should he move simply because you chose the seat next to him. If the train had been full would you still have expected him to move and have to stand?

appealtakingovermylife Thu 07-Aug-14 23:22:55

Yanbu, at all.
I'm pretty new here toosmile
Try and enjoy your trip without worrying about the return journey.
Surely there can't be too many men like that about. Shame on him.
He sounds like an ignorant pig.

I'd like to think if it was my dp, he would have moved immediately. I know he would.

Welcome to mumsnet!

passmethewineplease Thu 07-Aug-14 23:23:10

Could you not of just used the empty seats OP?

Also how do you know he'd be looking at you breastfeeding?

Sorry YAB A bit U OP.

SocksRock Thu 07-Aug-14 23:23:34

Just a tip - if you get a family railcard, it is then cheaper to buy 1 adult and 1 childs ticket than a full price adult ticket. You can then reserve 2 seats next to each other - I used to put the infant carrier on it with my DD in it (my Mum didn't have a seat so I had to take mine with me). This might help in the future if you do travel a lot.

Only1scoop Thu 07-Aug-14 23:23:50


He was in his allocated seat which he may have paid extra for.

BrianButterfield Thu 07-Aug-14 23:24:15

I have breastfed sitting next to people - it's possible. But if you want more privacy it's up to you to find it, I'm afraid. That might be using a cover or a scarf or something if needed.

YouAreMyRain Thu 07-Aug-14 23:24:29

"Everybody close by was aware of the situation"

You also say it was a "very public request" - so you did cause a scene.

Ronmione Thu 07-Aug-14 23:25:12

From the guards point if view, it was quicker for him to move the man rather than you with baby, all your belonging ANC alert the station which you were getting off at that you have moved seat. So I don't think it's a case if rewarding the man, alternatively he was saving time

TalcumPowder Thu 07-Aug-14 23:25:37

YABU, but understandably in a sense. The first times you do anything/take a trip with a small baby feel like atrocious tests of skill and nerve. But no, I don't think it was reasonable to expect someone to move seats for as long as it took you to feed your baby. You weren't unreasonable to ask, but I would have assumed you had thought through crowded train bf scenarios before making the journey, and while I recognise that early bf can be uncomfortable and make women feel self-conscious, I think it was unreasonable of you to stand in the aisle making a scene, and to imply the man alongside would have been 'watching' you.

Forgettable Thu 07-Aug-14 23:25:49

Everyone close by was aware of the situation v being quiet and discrete [sic]. Okaaaay...

Well you have had an upsetting experience for which I am sorry

Lucked Thu 07-Aug-14 23:25:58

I think if you wanted a bit of privacy and the man didn't want to move you should have nipped and explained the situation to the guard. Tbh it was rude to ask him more than once.

I do agree it could be difficult to sit next to a stranger, my babies were big at that age and someone in the next seat would have ended up with the legs kicking them or if on the breast closest lifting their head for a nosey and a smile leaving my nipple exposed.

I would have managed on the single seat I think.

What do you think the guard did wrong? The other customer was disrupted, why shouldn't he be compensated. I agree the other customer should have had some common decency and moved but that isn't the train companies fault.

Only1scoop Thu 07-Aug-14 23:26:10

I also didn't get the asking him about bf next to him with 'him watching'.

Seems like an odd thing to say.

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