Mum of one Laura visited the Braintree branch of Tesco in Essex on 4th November to buy her baby formula milk. As the supermarket offers a free parking voucher for customers who spend £5 and over, she expected to receive free parking but was upset to find that this reward scheme excludes formula milk.
Laura took to Facebook, in a post that has since gone viral, to report the 'abuse' she felt subjected to by staff, explaining her heartbreaking story of why she's unable to breastfeed and outrage at Tesco's policy.
The 34-year-old mum explained that, 'Tesco "supports breast feeding" and cannot "endorse formula feeding by rewarding customers" (with parking vouchers). They reported they also "do not endorse smoking" therefore do not issue parking vouchers if you buy tobacco.'
Despite feeling 'shamed' by staff, Laura admitted in her post that 'I am delighted that you as a company support breast feeding' but pointed out, 'I cannot accept that your policies lead to your staff shaming women who for whatever reason are using baby formula. I also cannot accept the comparison of formula feeding with the harmful effects of smoking.'
The young mum went on to share her personal story of why she's unable to breastfeed her baby, 'When my baby boy was 15 days old he stopped breathing at home. My husband and I were able to resuscitate him and thanks to the amazing NHS he was stabilised, diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and urgently transferred to a specialist Heart and Lung hospital.'
'For the next 2 weeks he remained in a critical condition on life support machines and at 4 weeks old he underwent life saving open heart surgery.'
She continued, explaining why her son can no longer breastfeed, 'Following the surgery he was unable to tolerate the high fat content of breast milk and was fed a specialist low fat feed via a feeding tube...the effort needed to breast feed was too much stress for him and we had to resort to bottle feeding.'
Although Laura tried to express her milk, she had to resort to bottle feeding formula.
Thankfully her baby is now doing well, but Laura is calling on Tesco to 'give your staff the training they clearly require in order to treat women in this situation with more compassion in the future.'
Her post has received a huge amount of support, with 338 shares and hundreds of likes and comments. One user commented, 'Omg! Are u for real? This is discrimination for gods sake! I'm literally seething!!!!!!' while another said, 'That is appalling how dare they judge anyone they do not know people's reasons for not breast feeding not every woman can for various reasons'.
Tesco have issued a reply which states, 'I'm very sorry you weren't spoken to with compassion, and you feel as though you were treated badly.
'This is not the level of service you can expect from us in any of our stores. I understand that this wasn't relayed in the best manner and I appreciate this is upsetting for you.'
'On a positive note, it's great to hear your little boy is doing well and fighting fit. I appreciate your feedback, with regards to us supporting breastfeeding. However, this is not to say we support women who do not breastfeed, any less. I'm truly sorry if you were made to feel this way though.
'Although, I do need to reiterate that our policy does state, the services not included in the minimum spend include tobacco, lottery and baby milk.'