Controversy about breast feeding at Leuven swimming baths

A life-guard at a swimming baths in the Flemish Brabant city of Leuven has unleash a storm of controversy on social media after a mother wrote that he had told her to find somewhere more discrete if she wished to breast-feed her child.  

The woman was breast-feeding her daughter on the steps of the infants’ paddling pool at the Sportose swimming baths. The life-guard told her that she could breast-feed in much quieter surroundings on one of the loungers or chairs around the pool or in the changing rooms.

The mother believed that it was here right to breast-feed in where she wished to and there was a brief exchange of words between her and the life-guard, after which she left the swimming baths.  

“Mums and babies welcome”

A spokesman for Sportoase told VRT Radio 2 Flemish Brabant that mothers with babies are more than welcome at their pools. The company regrets what happened has unleashed a discussion about breast-feeding in public places. However, it feels that it shouldn’t be permitted in a swimming pool.  

Sportoase’s Michaël Schouwaerts told the VRT that “there are several reasons for this. We aren’t doctors, but the water in the pool isn’t intended to be drunk or for human consumption. It is also the case that food, whatever food that might be gets into the water. We ask people to act responsibly”

“Always and everywhere”

It was another swimmer that objected to the woman breast-feeding in the pool. However, opinion on the issue is divided. The Leuven Alderwoman Bieke Verlinden (socialist) told VRT Radio 2 Flemish Brabant that woman should be able to breast-feed whenever and wherever they wish.

She dismisses eventual health issues that could arise from milk falling into the water. “This is the reason why there is chlorine in the water. I’m no expert, but I have heard that there is more urine in the water than anything else water. I think it is unacceptable that a woman has been asked to stop feeding her child”.      

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