Nursing – Cool In the Pool?

My best friend emailed this article to me:

“Nursing your baby: Not cool in the pool?”
Uproar is sparked after a mother is asked to stop breastfeeding her 20-month-old in a public swimming pool. ARTICLE

She then sent me the following question to ponder:

What do you think? There are two sides to this story – ORHC and Ministry of Health.


Here’s my opinion:

breastfeeding_friendly_logo4553I agree with the Ontario Human Rights Commission – it’s her right. I’m proud to live in a Province so supportive of a mother’s right to nurse her baby – anywhere and anytime. While I agree that a woman should be allowed to nurse where ever, and that it is within her rights, I would have to agree that she should have just gotten out of the pool itself and nursed on the deck for the safety of the child (I’d be afraid of dropping Brooke, risking her drowning in the pool). I think the real uproar is because she was approached and asked to nurse elsewhere, which violates her rights to nurse anywhere. Yet I wonder if she was looking for a fight when she could have easily gone to somewhere more private to nurse?

The pool owner was in a damned if you do, and damned if you don’t predicament. What isn’t stated in the article was whether the pool owner was responding to the reactions of the other swimmers. She/He may have asked the mother to nurse elsewhere as the owner didn’t want clientele to perceive the pool as “dirty” because nursing was allowed IN the pool. As well, the pool owner may not have been aware of the OHRC stance on nursing. I would also think that the age of the “baby” may have influenced the pool owner’s decision to request that the mother nurse elsewhere as nursing is often offensive to people, particularly when the “baby” is older than what people consider to be acceptable to be still nursing (in this case the baby was 20 months old – almost 2).

Brooke and I are now facing this challenge, as we continue to nurse in public – people that would have walked by paying no attention to us when she was younger, gawk at us because of her size. I used to be quite comfortable nursing discreetly in public, but now that she’s older I almost feel embarrassed and ashamed even though I’m fully aware that the WHO (World Health Organization) advocates nursing PAST 1 yr of age. Also, now that Brooke is 16 months old I find that I need a very comfortable couch to sit in to nurse, so when we were out together last Thursday, and she had refused her cup all day and hadn’t peed in 12 hours, I was more than happy to nurse her on the vacant couch I found in the mall common area. Previously I would search for a quiet bathroom stall when Brooke was at that awkward stage where she wouldn’t allow any blanket over her head while nursing.

As for the Ministry of Health – As a nursing mom, I know that breast milk is not “leaked”, Brooke certainly ensures that by nursing well beyond when the flow of milk has stopped. If breast milk in the pool is truly the issue than ALL lactating moms shouldn’t be allowed to even swim – and how do you monitor that? Do you pinch their nipples to see if any milk comes out?

I, of course, could go on and on about my personal opinions on nursing in public and extended nursing – instead I will turn this over to you, dear readers, what do you think? There are two sides to this story – ORHC and Ministry of Health.

PS: Here are some more articles related to the incident, as the plot thickened when the breastfeeding mother attempted a Nurse-In:
York Region.com
The Toronto Star
CBCNews.ca
Ann Douglas – The Mother of All Parenting Blogs

11 thoughts on “Nursing – Cool In the Pool?

  1. A bodily fluid is a bodily fluid greatly oversimplifies the issue.
    Breast milk is not the same as urine or feces. Breast milk will not suddenly contaminate the pool. If it’s good enough to provide sustenance to our children, I am not worried about an errant drop or two hitting the pool I swim in.

  2. Well, you already know my opinion on breastfeeding in public. However, didn’t they say this is a privately owned pool? If that’s the case, the pool owner has the right to keep out those she doesn’t want in and it’s not discrimination if she foresees the people coming in as causing trouble for her business.

    I really just can’t stand people having to make an issue out of everything, like the people I saw years ago who would cross the street to go over and wave their hands in front of smokers. They crossed over to the smokers in order to make an issue of how the smoke was bothering them.

    I think people need to get a life and mind their own business.

    jafers last blog post..The Look of Home

  3. I am all for nursing anywhere. If she wants to nurse in the pool, I suppose, it is her right, although as a privately owned facility, it is the owners right to ask her to get out.

    Personally, I would not nurse in teh pool, but in a chair on the side, or something.

    I have not nursed in public in around a year, although my 25 month old still does nurse in the morning and at night. I think I would get looks, since he is really big (bigger then some 3 year olds) and he talks a LOT. But it’s what is best for him, he loves it, and that’s all that matters!

  4. I read a couple of the articles you posted, and it seems the mom was sitting on the pool steps, and was asked to go to the change room. I have to say I see no reason for her dismissal. Private or not, breastfeeding there won’t hurt the pool or the baby. I read that the owner was pregnant…will be interesting to hear if she changes her tune once she has her own baby…or whether she will decide to breast feed herself.

  5. I agree, although the pool is privately owned, she does allow the public to swim there, so it’s a public place right? The pool owner was outta line for asking her to nurse else where. That said – the mom took it too far by trying to stage a nurse-in.

  6. I am all about breastfeeding. Would I nurse Ethan (19 months) IN the pool. Probably not. Not because it would be bad for the pool or the other people, but poor Ethan having to nurse with chlorine and other chemicals 😛

    chelles last blog post..What a Weekend!

  7. I could agrue points on this topic both ways. I think she should have the right to feed her child in public, but not on the steps into a pool. As many people that slip walking into and out of a pool because of the wet footing would be a definant reason for not. Me personally if a woman is breast feeding her child I will make an effort to stay away from them just in an effort to offer a little privacy(but that’s just me being me).

  8. As mother milk is the primary food source of the baby, I believe she should be able to feed her child anywhere, at anytime. No matter how old the child is (in your case 16 months). Even in the pool, or in a shopping mall or where ever she needs to be fed.

    I hope that some day this will be the normal way, and that mothers like yourself feel nothing but comfortable to feed their children in public.

    I still nurse (passed 10 months, hooray :) Roo and even do it in public sometimes. Like you, I tend to hide a bit.

    Nadines last blog post..Your advice is needed: the llllittle pieces

  9. I nursed my little man til a little after he turned one and I believe a mother has the right to nurse wherever she chooses. In CT it is a law. However, I would not nurse in the pool. I would get out and maybe nurse in a lounge chair around the pool, but I would not nurse in the pool.

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