Prior to that, there were also other incidents involving breastfeeding in swimming pools in Canada – 2 in Ontario (Scarborough and Newmarket) and another one in Calgary. Because of these incidents, protests were organized which resulted in changes in rules of the local councils and/or public apologies. Public awareness of breastfeeding in public also heightened.
I initially felt that there is a difference between breastfeeding in the pool or near/around the pool. Breastfeeding near or around the pool is perfectly acceptable to me, but I felt that breastmilk, being a bodily fluid, is something I don’t think the public would appreciate being added to the swimming pool water.
After some research, I got to this FAQ page on breastfeeding and swimming pools. FAQ No. 9 thoroughly discussed the “no drink and food” rule in connection with breastfeeding – breastfeeding is not just food but comfort and comfort certainly is not prohibited in the pool. A scientific paper is also discussed, which debunked the argument that breastmilk would deactivate the chlorine or may contain bacteria/viruses that could infect other swimmers.
Although we haven’t nursed in the swimming pool, I have nursed here in a public beach in Davao City. Personally, I wouldn’t want to nurse Naima in the swimming pool. I feel it is not hygienic. The pool waters are not clean and even if I am wearing a bathing suit, my breasts still came in contact with the icky water. I don’t want Naima swallowing pool water – nor would I want her to come in contact with something that was soaked in the pool water. But that’s just me.
I realize that breastfeeding is much like the law – there are always 2 sides and you could argue about it until you are blue in the face – but still not find a resolution. Information, biases, culture and influences all shape the perception in the face of nursing in public.
*The cartoon on this page is by Heather Cushman-Dowdee, creator of Hathor the Cow Goddess, a comics focused on breastfeeding and attachment parenting.