Breastfeeding mum booted off speed awareness course for bringing newborn baby

A breastfeeding mum says she was forced to leave a speed awareness course after taking her six-week-old baby along.

Sarah Oakes, of Ruddington in Nottinghamshire, was caught driving 36mph in a 30mph zone in June this year.

She took her newborn son to the speed awareness course she had to complete in Beeston but was told children under 16 were not permitted.

The mum-of-two described the incident as "quite distressing" as she shared the story with Nottinghamshire Live.

She says she was told she would need someone to sit with the baby outside the room, and could leave the course to breastfeed when necessary.

But Mrs Oakes, 38, didn't have someone available to help her on Friday so had to leave.

She hopes DriveTech, the organisation responsible for the course, will consider changing their policy.

"Drive Tech said they support breastfeeding by allowing me to leave for feeds outside, but it's just not reasonable," Mrs Oakes said. 

"Feeds can be up to an hour, which means I would miss at least half the course, or have to stay an extra two hours to catch up.

"It's impractical to expect mothers to have someone to support you or who can take leave from work.

"I feel it is actively discriminating against breastfeeding which is actually unlawful. "

DriveTech state in their terms and conditions that specific requirements, which includes breast feeding, need to be mentioned at the time of booking.

Rooms can be provided for mums to breastfeed provided a second person is able to attend to look after the baby between feeds.

Mrs Oakes added: "I totally understand the need to not disturb others but at six weeks, baby is just sleeping and feeding – if they were distressed, it would take five minutes outside to calm them.

"I am either going to have to rebook the course, or take the points and fine," she said.

"I'd hope DriveTech could offer more realistic options – allow breastfeeding mums the option to delay or offer an online course.

"This is a nationally-run course which must be affecting a lot of other women in the same position."

Mrs Oakes and husband Peter Howsen, 38, had paid £50 to have childcare for their four-year-old and then paid £100 for the course, in place of taking three penalty points and a £100 fine.

Reacting to the incident, Mr Howsen said: "There is legislation out there to help women who are breastfeeding for this reason.

"I think it's totally fair to presume a newborn would be allowed, especially at this vulnerable and emotional time it places an extra burden on mothers."

Desmond Morrison, a director at DriveTech, said courses are offered three times a day, seven days a week to allow every opportunity to take the course.

He added: "We deal with all types of diverse requests to ensure people are facilitated to take a course.

"Around 30,000 people take the course every month with DriveTech across the UK, which will include hundreds of breastfeeding mothers.

"The guidelines for the course is developed through 43 police forces and the course is part of a prosecution process."

A spokesman for DriveTech added: “We are sorry if any distress was caused to the mother in this case.

“We, and all other suppliers, must adhere to the guidelines laid down by NDORs (National Driver Offender Re-training scheme).

"As such our stance regarding the provision of service for breast feeding mothers is laid out for us.

“She would have been very welcome for a friend or family member to care for the baby in another room while the course took place and indeed, would have been able to take a break to attend to the baby.”

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