When a mother was asked (or told?) not to breastfeed in an Edmonton pool, Barb Strange and Skye Wylie went to work. Pooling their resources, and their convictions that breastfeeding mothers should not be discriminated against, they confronted the city’s officials with their cause. Edmonton’s public servants were given a lesson in breasts, breastfeeding, and mother and baby rights. Their determination paid off. Mothers and babes will now feed undisturbed at city pools. The letter sent to them by the Community Services supervisor says in part:
“The information you provided was an important factor in our review and subsequent changes to existing procedures.
“Our initial standard was founded in part on general concerns about health risks associated with breastfeeding while in a swimming pool ? [But we learned] there is no research to support the speculation that breast milk provides any greater risk of polluting the water than any other body fluids (ie: sweat)?
“We also revisited the Leisure Centre’s Standard related to addressing public complaints regarding breastfeeding. Our previous practice did not appreciate the potentially negative effects on a nursing mother of expressing to her concerns raised by other patrons. Once again we thank you for the information you provided, as it was instrumental in the changes to our policy. From this point, we will inform any patrons who complain that breastfeeding is an acceptable practice in our facilities and does not contravene any legislation.
“On behalf of Community Leisure Centres, I would like to offer my sincerest apologies for any embarrassment that this may have caused any of your organization’s members. It is my hope that this change in current standards will allow all members of the public to feel comfortable in any of our facilities in the future.”
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