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No Food or Drink Allowed at Public Pools, Not Even Breast Milk

By Sandy Sand     May 21, 2009 in Lifestyle
It was the breast of times; it was the worst of times for a woman in Ann Arbor, Michigan two years ago, and again for her kindred spirited woman with babe in arms in Nottingham, England, nearly two weeks ago.
In the most recent incident, Laura Whotton, 26, of Carrington in Nottingham, was told to stop breastfeeding her three-month-old son Joshua as she watched her older child, four-year-old son Thomas in the pool.
She refused the offer of a private room in which to feed the baby as she had to watch the older boy.
She said she was shocked when she was asked:
'Are you breastfeeding?' She was then told: 'You are in a public area, you can't breastfeed because there are children here.'
Whotton, who had covered both herself and the baby with towels replied:
'I wasn't embarrassed because I didn't have anything on show. People in bikinis were showing more skin and breast than I was.
'It's the most natural thing in the world - and I was made to feel like I was doing something terrible.
'I've fed my baby on the bus and on a tram and in McDonald's. If he needs feeding I will do it.'
Whotton lodged a complaint with the Nottingham City Council.
A council spokesman said:
'The council's policy is to enable mothers to breastfeed in all council centres, including leisure centres.
The only exception to this rule at leisure centres is in the swimming pool and surrounding area, where, in the interests of safety and hygiene, there is a policy of no food or drink.
This rule also covers breastfeeding, as it would the bottle feeding of a baby.'
The council has since given her an apology and has reviewed and amended is breastfeeding policy.
Operations manager Lee Kimberley, said:
… the lifeguard at the pool was 'acting in accordance-with current policy'.
But he added: 'The manner in which it was done was not appropriate.'
If Parliament passes a new law next year, breastfeeding mothers will get extra legal protection under an Equality Bill, which will give them the right to breastfeed in any public area and keep them from being forced out of cafes and shops.
In the incident two years ago in the United States, Kelly Fuks of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was told she couldn’t breastfeed her six-month-old daughter at the local YMCA while she watched her three-year-old son, who was in the pool.
Senior Programs Director at the YMCA, Diane Carr said there is no food or water allowed in the pool area and exceptions cannot be made.
"It's difficult to be able to make exceptions and then be able to enforce them," Carr told The Ann Arbor News[/i] at the time of the incident.
Fuks, a member of the YMCA said:
"I think they have a bad policy and place a burden on people with small children," Fuks said.
Linda Wieser, liaison for the La Leche League, told The Ann Arbor News that the situation is not uncommon:
"People assume there are laws to these things, but there really are not," she said. Michigan exempts breast-feeding from its public nudity statute, but it does not protect a woman's right to breastfeed in public places.
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