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Wellington mum shocked at public pool breastfeeding ban - 'I thought common sense would prevail'



A Wellington City Council decision to ban breastfeeding in its public pools has surprised a mother who experienced a forced council pool-exit earlier this year. 

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Rebecca Robertson was told off earlier this year for breastfeeding her son in a public pool. Source: Seven Sharp

The decision comes six months after Rebecca Robertson was asked to leave one of the council's pools for breastfeeding her son.  

Instead, the council says parenting rooms will be available at the pools where breastfeeding can take place.

Ms Robertson says she was not expecting this decision.

“I was actually quite surprised, I didn’t think it would go that way,” she told TVNZ1’s Seven Sharp.

“I thought that common sense would prevail and it would be just a policy change.”

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Rebecca Robertson explains what happened at Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre in Kilbirnie. Source: Seven Sharp

She said she was also surprised there was no evidence put forward for the policy either.

The council said the ban is in place due to pool water quality standards and the heightened risk of vomiting.

It says safety standards also don’t differentiate for what might be adult or baby vomit.

Ms Roberston says that’s a cop-out.

“Women know their babies, so if you had an incredibly refluxy baby, you probably wouldn’t go swimming for maybe an hour after feeding. Whatever it is for your baby.”

She says at this point she would find it easy to get in and out of a pool with her baby as she is not breastfeeding during the day “much at all”.

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"At first I wasn't as comfortable because breasts have always been sexualised," the 27-year-old says. Source: Te Karere

“But in stages in my journey it would have been hard and actually getting a small baby in and out of a pool, I actually used to find that quite daunting and I often used to have to get other people to help me,” she says.

Ms Robertson’s message to the council is to provide some evidence.

“Show the evidence. First of all that babies always spill straight after breastfeeding, otherwise the policy doesn’t make sense.”

She says if it’s an actual breastmilk problem “how will they deal with lactating women that will leak into the pool just going for a swim on their own?”