Breastfeeding martyrs who forget their manners ruin it for the rest of us

Breastfeeding martyrs who forget their manners ruin it for the rest of us

 

Stephanie Wilby, 22, broke the unwritten swimming pool law by feeding her son, Leo, while bobbing about in the shallows. The British Gas employee was asked to leave by management and told breastfeeding in the baths was "unhygienic" and akin to "urinating" in the water.

 

We all know the pool rules - no running, no heavy petting, and no food or drink. Technically breast milk is both food and drink. Leisure centre legislation must not discriminate. Clearly breastfeeding in the pool isn't "unhygienic", nor does it pass as "indecent exposure". But as a fellow mum, I believe it is rude and inappropriate for anyone to breastfeed in the water.

 

It's true that us mums can suffer from 'baby brain'. This is a serious affliction contracted during maternity leave - you can forget the day of the month, your PIN number (very embarrasing at the checkout in Tesco) and, more often than not, your manners. Us mums can become so obsessed with nurturing the little ones that we forget how to treat the big ones. Too often I see new mums talking to each other side by side and pushing their buggies three abreast, taking up the whole pavement. They're so immersed in their chat they don't see the pile up of pedestrians behind them. Single file where necessary please ladies.

 

If you're foolhardy enough to go wandering into Yummy Mummy-ville on a working day of the week, expect to find the coffee shops littered with buggies, while the aroma of freshly ground coffee is ever so slightly ruined by the stench of dirty nappies. Mmm. It's getting trickier to find family-unfriendly venues. In an attempt to blend the good old days with family life, parents will often frequent swanky eateries with youngsters in tow. At the risk of sounding a little bit Victorian, surely there are some safe havens where children should be neither seen or heard?

 

Bow-tie wearing toddlers dashing around a white table-clothed restaurant, where there is no sign of a happy meal or chicken nugget, is a parenting faux pas - along with an irksome tot kicking the back of your aeroplane seat from London to New York while the parents turn a blind eye.

 

The Manchester Aquatics Centre encourages women to breastfeed in the poolside cafe or the changing rooms - in a "safe and comfortable environment" - but understandably not in the water. Fair enough. The dedicated lap swimmer hardly wants an accidental mouthful of breast milk with their chlorine.

 

In return for the generosity of spirit shown by the suited man who helps haul a buggy onto the train, or the receptionist who coos over a patient's kids, breastfeeding mums must be mindful of other adults.

 

Breastfeeding in a public swimming pool will only dilute the fight to make sure that breastfeeding in public - when practised in a sensitive way - is supported by society.

 

 

By Anna White

 


The Telegraph, 15th August, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

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