Fredericton mom told to stop breastfeeding at public pool

Caroline Griffith was told by a lifeguard at a Fredericton pool that she could not breastfeed her daughter in the pool.

A Fredericton mother is speaking out after a lifeguard asked her to stop breastfeeding her baby daughter at the city's indoor public pool.

Caroline Griffith said her 10-month-old was hungry and there were only a few people at the pool, so she discreetly began to nurse her daughter.

She said that's when a young female lifeguard told her she was not allowed to breastfeed in the pool and would have to leave.

"I asked her why, and she said, 'Oh well, the baby could get water from the pool in her mouth, and it's dirty,'" Griffith said.

"And I said, 'Well, we have swimming class here, which requires her to be dunked under the water and she's actually just spent the past hour going, 'Blaah' and splashing water into her mouth. So she's obviously getting it,'" said Griffith.

Griffith said she then spoke with a supervisor at the pool who agreed with the lifeguard.

"She had made many comments like, 'Oh well my staff are very uncomfortable, you should be respectful. Or, families left, whole families left because you were breast feeding.' Nobody left."

Michelle Hornbrook, an official with the City of Fredericton, said she couldn't comment about the case.

But she did say all municipal facilities, including the indoor pool, are considered breastfeeding friendly.

At the Fredericton indoor pool, Mary Estabrooks said it wouldn't bother her to see a mother nursing.

"I don't know if it bothers a lot of women. I think it bothers men more than women," she said.

But David Morrison said he has no problem with it.

"I think they have to be discreet about it — naturally — but I think most women are," he said.

Elda Milton said she believes women should use their own discretion, however she did wonder whether nursing in the pool was taking it too far.

"I think they could go outside the pool and sit off to the side," Milton said.

Griffith said she is now worried that other women have been discriminated against at the pool.

"You know there has been such a horrible stigma around breastfeeding, I deal with women every day who are afraid to breastfeed in public," Griffith said.

"Women who stay in their homes and will not leave their homes because they're scared of receiving backlash in public — it's heinous."

In the coming weeks Hornbrook says the City of Fredericton will be looking at what other aquatic centres in the area do when women want to breastfeed in a pool, and then the city will come up with a policy of its own.

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