A woman has detailed her ‘shock’ at being called out by a staff member at a swimming pool for breastfeeding her seven-month-old baby, noting that it should be a ‘normal part of the culture of Ireland.’
Mother-of-three Marguerite Sinnott shared how she was scolded for breastfeeding her seven-month-old at the swimming pool at UCD Fitness on Wednesday and was told to use a changing cubicle.
A study by Unicef shared that a hundred years ago ‘most Irish babies were breastfed, now only half are.’
The Equal Status Act 2000 protects people from discrimination and harassment and allows the use of a wide range of services such as shops and restaurants.
Despite breastfeeding not being mentioned in the Act, it is protected on ‘gender grounds.’
Asking someone to leave their premises as they are breastfeeding is discrimination.
Speaking on Liveline on Thursday afternoon, Marguerite explained to Joe that she was in the toddler pool with her three kids — a six-year-old, a four-year-old and her baby.
‘My smallest guy started giving out a bit, so I just sat at the side of the toddler pool to breastfeed him,’ Marguerite shared, ‘He had his feed and he was happy again, we got back into the pool.
A few minutes following the feed, Marguerite shared that a member of staff came over and asked her to come out of the pool to ‘address something.’
‘She commenced by stating that she had been “made aware” that I was breastfeeding in the toddler pool, and I said, “That’s correct, I was breastfeeding my seven-month-old baby in the pool,’ Marguerite said.
‘And she said, “Well, you can’t do that, if you want to feed your child you have to go to a cubicle in the changing room.”‘
The confrontation shocked Marguerite, who revealed she was speechless for a minute.
‘I was kinda stuck to the ground for a minute, but I said to her, “Are you seriously asking me to leave the pool to breastfeed my child?”‘
The staff member told Marguerite that breastfeeding in the pool wasn’t hygienic, or safe for the child, adding that it was ‘against health and safety.’
The staff member told Marguerite that breastfeeding in the pool wasn’t hygienic, or safe for the child
She said: ‘It was kind of a mish-mosh of very tepid excuses, which I saw as white-washing — they weren’t genuine excuses.
‘Me giving my baby a feed was not posing any health and safety risk to anyone in the pool, or to her.’
The follow-up reason was for fear the baby would vomit leaving the member of staff no choice but to close the pool. Marguerite noted that there was no fear of her child vomiting.
The member of staff revealed that they had been informed by a fellow pool user.
Following the encounter, Marguerite took to Twitter to share her experience, prompting the UCD Fitness to issue a reply to the mother who noted she was ‘shamed’ for feeding her child.
‘Please accept our sincerest apologies,’ they shared, ‘Rather than approach you, the member of staff should have explained to the individuals who complained that breastfeeding is rightfully permitted in all public places.’