When young mother Rebecca Hough paid a visit to her local swimming pool with her 10-month-old son, she had no idea it would end with her being shamed and humiliated for doing what comes naturally to every mum — breastfeeding in public.
The 23-year-old from Cornwall in the UK was swimming in the Lux Park Leisure Centre pool when baby Max became agitated and hungry.
Getting out of the pool, Rebecca took a few steps away from the water and began breastfeeding her baby.
Yet as previously reported by The Inquistir, breastfeeding in public can often lead to aggressive and unpleasant confrontations — as Rebecca was soon to find out for herself.
The manager of the swimming pool approached the mother as she was busy breast-feeding little Max, and ordered her to retreat into the changing rooms and not return for at least half an hour.
Why? Because staff at the swimming pool were concerned that once baby Max had finished his feed, he might just vomit into the water and thus contaminate it.
Miss Hough told the Daily Mail that the confrontation with the swimming pool manager left her feeling angry and embarrassed.
The outraged mum said:
“Max is a breast fed baby and always has been. I got in the pool and he was a bit unsettled, so I decided to give him a really quick feed, as more of a comfort thing than anything else, rather than a full feed.
“I went to the side of the pool and up some steps away from the pool. I noticed the lifeguard go onto his walky talkie, and then a manager came out to speak to me. They told me I would have to leave and not come back until the milk had digested. The pool wasn’t busy and I wasn’t showing off my boobs, but they asked me to sit in the changing rooms. I just said it was fine, but I was a bit embarrassed and when I left and got home I started to get a bit angry.
“I’m a confident feeder but some girls aren’t and something like that could really shake their confidence. I was polite but I should have argued against it.”
Due to the UK’s Equality Act 2010, it is illegal to discriminate against a woman breast-feeding in public, and although the swimming pool manager has since written a letter of apology to Miss Hough, the pool’s owners Tempus Leisure refuse to admit to any wrongdoing.
Marketing manager Marc Laundon said:
“This is very much an issue of maintaining water quality as we work hard to keep the water in all our pools safe and clean. The member of staff was concerned that a baby that has just been fed could very easily be sick in the pool.
“This would obviously not be pleasant for other users and could potentially lead to a pool closure which would inconvenience many other customers. At the moment we don’t have a specific policy on breastfeeding on poolside as we assume most customers realise the implications and it has not previously been an issue.
“The centre manager in this instance has written to the customer apologizing for any upset and made a judgement in advance of a company-wide policy being introduced that it is currently acceptable at that centre. We seek to make our facilities open and welcoming to everyone of all ages but the priority is always the health and safety of everyone.”