A mum was wrongly ordered out of a swimming pool by a lifeguard for breastfeeding her five-month-old baby.
Sarah Lappin, 31, had finished a parent and toddler swimming session when she started feeding son Kalel at the side of the pool in Rhyl, North Wales.
But a lifeguard asked her to leave the pool if she wished to continue breastfeeding – even though it is legal to breastfeed in public places.
Furious Sarah won an apology from bosses at the swimming pool, who promised to review their training.
Sarah Lappin, 31, (pictured) was furious and humiliated after a lifeguard ordered her to stop breastfeeding her five-month-old baby at her local swimming pool
Keen swimmer Sarah has breastfed all of her five children in the same pool and was shocked to be told to stop as she sat on the pool edge.
Sarah said: ‘I’m stood up so my baby is away from water, of course, and I’m soothing him as he was upset, and it’s the way I know best to stop him crying and make him feel safe.
‘But I was told to stop by the lifeguard. He said: “It’s the rules”.
‘I carried on feeding my baby as I know there’s no such rule, and have done it with five children now for nearly a decade in that same pool.
The mother-of-five from Rhyl, North Wales, kept her calm and complained to the deputy manager after the incident, who said that she didn’t see a problem
‘Moments after, he whistled at me again, and said I will have to leave if I carry on breastfeeding in the pool.
‘I kept my calm and replied that I can’t stop him once he’s on. Everyone was looking now.
‘I did complain to the deputy manager. She did say she didn’t see a problem and she would pull the young lifeguard about it and was very kind to me.
‘I know there’s no such rule. I felt so humiliated.’
A spokesperson for Denbighshire Leisure Ltd, the company responsible for Rhyl Leisure Centre (pictured), apologised to Sarah for any offence caused
She added: ‘I am a very proud breastfeeding mother and have been feeding for almost a decade now with five children.
‘I have never come across such negative behaviour towards a mother breastfeeding her infant. I’m a very confident breastfeeding mum and I take great pride in doing so.
‘I won’t be so easily affected by this incident and was very calm, but if this had been a new young mum, it could well have been a different story.
‘It could have spoilt a beautiful breastfeeding journey for a mother and her baby, and seriously knocked the mother’s confidence to feed in public again.
‘This act is just one of the reasons mums don’t want to breastfeed; because of the judgement out there and the lack of public support.
‘There are people who think it’s nudity, or that it should be done in private or at least covered with a blanket or in a breastfeeding room hidden away.
Sarah said that she will not be affected by the incident but worries that if it had happened to a new young mum it could affect and spoil their breastfeeding journey
Keen swimmer Sarah has breastfed all of her five children in the same pool and was shocked to be told to stop as she sat on the pool edge. She stood her ground however, as she knew that she was not breaking any rules
‘It’s wrong to think a mother has to hide to do a perfectly natural thing. It’s our rights as women to feed our babies where we want, as it’s not just a source of food, it’s their comfort and makes them feel safe.
‘It’s normal to breastfeed, and not something to hide in private, as it’s a perfectly natural thing to do.’
Sarah dismissed fears that breastfeeding in a pool may be a health hazard to other swimmers.
She explained that breast milk is ‘antibacterial and antimicrobial’ and will protect the baby from any harmful bacteria.
She said: ‘Breast milk does not pose any health hazard to other swimmers. If it did, then pools would need to ban all lactating women from using them.
‘Even if any breast milk gets into the water, it is actually antibacterial and antimicrobial, and won’t cause any problems.
‘Also, the breast milk will protect the baby from any harmful bacteria in the water.
‘The baby was in distress, as well – that’s why I fed him; to calm him, and the lifeguard still asked me to stop or leave the pool, with no consideration for my stressed baby.’
A spokesperson for Denbighshire Leisure Ltd, the company responsible for Rhyl Leisure Centre, apologised to Sarah for any offence caused.
The spokesperson said: ‘All of Denbighshire Leisure’s sites support and encourage breastfeeding, including on the poolside at our leisure centres.
‘On this occasion, one of our lifeguards asked a mother who was breastfeeding her child within the swimming pool to exit the water.
‘We do not prevent any person from breastfeeding in our facilities, but on this occasion, the breastfeeding was taking place in the water.
‘It is very unclear whether or not a baby should or should not be fed in the water due to conflicting views on the health risks and the heightened risk of vomiting in the pool which would result in a pool closure.
‘We will, therefore, take further advice from healthcare professionals and adjust our policies and training accordingly based on the advice we receive.
‘We apologise for any offence this may have caused.’