A U.K. woman claims she was forced to breastfeed standing up while on a train in Essex.
Bryony Esther, 32, the Daily Mail reports, shared photos of herself on Facebook over the weekend and they have now gone viral. In the post, the mom is seen breastfeeding her child, while fellow passengers are both sitting and standing behind her.
“Having to stand on a train whilst breastfeeding my baby thanks to the lovely bunch of charmers giving more priority to their suitcases and rolling joints!! It stinks,” she wrote on the social media site. “Plus the cyclist with a fancy bike that keeps rolling into me, sat in the disabled seat. Please share cos [sic] I’d love it if their mothers, girlfriends and wives get to see how they behave.”
Social media users react
Her post has more than 28,000 shares and counting, and while many people expressed outrage over her experience, some asked the mom-of-three if the passengers simply didn’t notice she was breastfeeding — her child could have been tucked away.
On her post, Ester responded to some of her naysayers. “They 1000 per cent knew. The fact I stood by them for a few [minutes] and then asked if I could please sit where the suitcase was and yet they ignored me completely,” she wrote on the social media site.
Some asked why she just didn’t ask for a seat in the first place.
“I did ask the guy in the cap and even sat my daughter down briefly (before baby woke) and he told me the seat was taken, then I realized they were doing drugs so moved her,” she wrote.
Others shared their own similar experiences.
“People are so selfish on public transport. So many times we get the train and we can’t sit together (me plus three kids) because so many singular [people are] taking a whole table for four,” user Siân Vranken wrote.
However, some pointed out that Esther should not have been standing in that specific area of the train (it is meant for bikes), and thought she was just using Facebook to publicly shame fellow passengers.
“It does suck that people won’t give up seats… however, you are standing in the place on the train where people are supposed to put bikes. A place where there are only three seats that whole end,” user Paul Leahy wrote.
“Only person in the wrong here is the lady trying to shame everyone else when she is faced away with the baby tucked under her arm out of everyone’s sight. Those who commute will agree that as soon as you sit down, it’s heads down until you get off. I am sure this lady would have a seat if she asked and made people aware,” user Mellissa Cole wrote.
Subway etiquette and public shaming
Ottawa-based etiquette expert and professional speaker Julie Blais Comeau says it’s sad that a nursing mother wasn’t given a seat, but she isn’t surprised many people didn’t pay attention to her.
“We are in our bubbles,” she tells Global News. “And when we are in that bubble, everything else gets filtered out and slowed down, and some people become oblivious to what’s going on.”
In addition, she says more people are glued to their phones and tablets or just zone others out with their headphones.
“You are on public transportation, not at home, on your couch, in bed or in the office for that matter,” she continues. “You are interacting with other people and as a citizen, you should [tune into] what you are seeing and hearing.”
And if you are in a similar situation, where you see an elderly person or mother-to-be without a seat, instead of intervening as an advocate or yelling at those who aren’t giving up seats, offer up your own seat, she says.
“If the situation is more difficult, find a person of authority as soon as possible and get that person to intervene.”