A New South Wales mother says she is “embarrassed and ashamed” after she was asked to leave her local swimming pool while breastfeeding.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told Yahoo7 she was nursing her baby in a public pool Saturday morning, while supervising her three-year-old who was swimming nearby.
“The lifeguard, a young female, asked me to leave because they don’t want milk getting in the pool and because my 10-month-old son might vomit in the pool,” she said.
“I asked to see the pool’s policy on this and she informed me there is no policy about breastfeeding but that they don’t allow food and drink in the pool and if my kid vomits in the pool then everyone has to get out.
“I told her that I can’t stop the milk coming out when I have a let down, and that asking me to leave the pool because I’m breastfeeding is illegal.”
The woman said Saturday’s confrontation was the second time she was asked to leave the Lakeside Leisure Centre pool, in the suburb of Raymond Terrace, near Newcastle, while breastfeeding.
“The lifeguard’s reasons are pathetic, they show a clear lack of understanding of basic human biology and of the law. It’s ignorance on their part,” she said.
“The first time I was so incredibly embarrassed and ashamed that it happened to me, I’ve only ever heard of it happening to other people.
“The second time I was angry, I am more confident in myself as a mother and of my legal rights to breastfeed anywhere, any time, including in a public pool if I choose.”
The mother said it was the centre’s policy for her to remain within one metre of her three-year-old boy while he is in the water, as he is younger than five-years-old.
So when her baby needed to feed, the easiest and safest option was to feed him sitting in the shallow end of the pool while her older son swam around them.
Mixed responses to woman’s breastfeeding ban
After sharing the account on various community Facebook groups, the woman was met with varied responses.
“Some people agreed with the lifeguards, others were overwhelmingly supportive,” she said.
“But overall, it shows to me that there is still so much misinformation out there about a breastfeeding mother’s right to feed her child anywhere, at any time.”
Lakeside Leisure Centre management confirmed to Yahoo7 they were investigating the complaint, however could not respond to questions about the centre’s breastfeeding policy.
The incident comes a month after breastfeeding mothers staged a protest of sorts at a clothing store in Melbourne’s west when one mum claimed she was “shamed” for trying to feed her hungry baby there.
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