‘I’m disgusted over these archaic rules’: Breastfeeding mother furious after being told to feed ‘near a drain or go into a cubicle’ at swimming pool
- Rachel McCarey, 39, claims she was discriminated against for feeding her baby
- She was approached by staff at Haven Point Leisure Centre in South Shields
- South Tyneside Council said policy was in place ‘to reduce risk to all pool users’
A breastfeeding mother said she was left ‘flabbergasted’ after leisure centre staff told her to move to the side of a swimming pool and feed her baby ‘near a drain or go into a cubicle’.
Rachel McCarey claims she was discriminated against while feeding her one-year-old daughter Annie in the pool at Haven Point Leisure Centre in South Shields.
The 39-year-old, who lives in Newcastle, said she was first approached by a staff member while feeding Annie in the swimming pool last November.
She said she was asked to move to the side in case her baby was sick.
After the swimming session, Ms McCarey said she spoke to a person she believed was the manager and they assured her that the situation would be investigated and appropriate measures taken.
Rachel McCarey, 39, claims she was discriminated against while feeding her one-year-old daughter Annie in the pool at Haven Point Leisure Centre in South Shields
Ms McCarey claims leisure centre staff told her to move to the side of a swimming pool and feed her baby ‘near a drain or go into a cubicle’
However, when she recently returned to the same pool a lifeguard told her she was allowed to breastfeed, but that she needed to stand beside a drain.
Ms McCarey, who works as a teacher, has now lodged a complaint with South Tyneside Council, which runs the leisure centre.
She received an email back from the local authority on Wednesday stating that the leisure manager was investigating the legislation.
They said she would need to move to the side of the pool or use a cubicle while breastfeeding until the investigation was complete.
Ms McCarey, who is also mum to Bella, seven, said: ‘I’m flabbergasted that this is happening in the 21st Century. I feel so livid for all breastfeeding mothers. I feel so frustrated that this is still happening.
‘In eight years of breastfeeding I have never been approached and told to feed in a specific location. I felt so uncomfortable. I felt like my swimming experience had just been ruined. I felt like I might as well get out of the pool.
‘I can’t believe this is their policy. We should be openly allowed to breast feed where we want. I don’t even think women should be approached, we should be able to feed as necessary.
‘I can tell you the Equality Act 2010 states that a woman can breastfeed anywhere, anywhere she likes. By stating I need to be beside a drain or in a cubicle, the centre manager has openly discriminated against me and my baby.’
Ms McCarey said they only visit the leisure centre in South Shields as a treat, because her daughter Bella likes going there. She said they visited in November last year for Bella’s birthday.
She said they usually visit swimming pools in Newcastle and North Tyneside and she has never been asked to breastfeed in a certain location by staff at other leisure centres.
Ms McCarey said babies breastfeed regularly and mothers shouldn’t be expected to move each time. She said it also means the bubble pool couldn’t be used by breastfeeding mothers as the drain is on the other side of the pool.
The mother-of-two said she won’t return to Haven Point unless an official apology is offered and the policy is changed.
She added: ‘I’m not going back there, I’m boycotting.
‘I think their attitude towards this is absolutely disgusting. I’m disgusted that I have to wait 10 working days for a response and have to go along with these archaic rules.
‘Does that mean I need to go to a cubicle 10 times to feed my baby? A baby could need to be fed five times in an hour. It’s an incredibly responsive style of parenting.
‘It’s like no one is willing to listen and that’s the way it is.’
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: ‘South Tyneside Council is a huge advocate of breastfeeding and actively supports breastfeeding mothers to feed their babies on demand wherever necessary.
‘We want all our pool visitors to feel safe and comfortable using our facilities.
‘While we have no issue with mothers breastfeeding in our swimming pool areas, we ask that [they] feed their babies at the edge of the pool to reduce the safety risk to all pool users.
‘If breastfeeding mothers prefer more privacy, then cubicles are available. We believe we take a balanced approach to the needs of mothers, babies and others pool users.
‘We apologise for any distress this has caused.’
Source: Read Full Article