Thursday, January 12, 2006

It was only a matter of time...

...until the breastfeeding debate hit Ann Arbor. A woman was asked not to breastfeed on the deck of the YMCA pool because of a strict "no food and drink in the pool" policy.

I'm curious to see how this shapes up. There are a lot of women I think will come out of the lactivist closet on this one.

Honestly, I can see both sides of the issue. I think pools to have unique health concerns because of the hospitable breeding ground their warm, wet environs provide. A rule is a rule. And the Y has plenty of other places where a mother can breastfeed. Indeed, by the time my children were six months old (the age of the child at issue here), I pretty much worked my outings around their feeding schedule and was able to do most things without having to nurse on site (not that I minded it. Indeed I kind of enjoyed the in-your-face element of public breastfeeding and didn't get to do it quite as often as I'd have liked).

I can also sympathize with the mother. If she's at the pool with her three year old to "get his ya-yas out" as she said, then packing everyone up for a 20 minute nursing session in the locker room is NOT going to go over well. And she can't very well leave a toddler unattended at the pool. Breastfeeding does not leave crumbs or the danger of broken bottles the way other food consumption would, so I don't see that it needs to be classified under the "food and drink" policy.

Moreover, if the goal is to prevent food from ending up on the deck, then prohibit babies altogether. Because no matter where you feed them, they'll spit up where ever and when ever they want. Nursing in the locker room won't remove the threat of food matter on the pool deck.

No doubt the real issue was someone's (the lifeguard's it sounds like) discomfort with the sight or thought of a working breast. That is a cultural issue that county health policies can't address.


Blogger Jennifer said...

I agree with you that this really is a two sided issue...

On the one hand, a breastfeeding mother is unlikely to cause any "spillage" or other issues that would pose a health risk.

On the other hand, it's not as if this is a typical "you can't breastfeed in public" scenario. Instead, it's a "you can't feed your child here" scenario.

Even as a devoted lactivist, I can see the logic of that one.

The thing that gets me, and that makes me want more clarity on the story is the quote from her about how the Y told her that she was being a distraction to the lifeguards. Her response was the typical BFIP argument that a breastfeeding mother is no more distracting than the girls in bikinis would have been.

However...the director of the Y says that what she actually meant by "distraction" was that anyone breaking the rules is a distraction. If that's what they meant and it got misconstrued, then I think I have to come down on the side of the Y.

I understand that it's annoying to cart your baby somewhere else to feed them, but if a standard argument for breastfeeding in public is going to be "would you have a problem with me giving them a bottle here?" then we're going to have to accept it when they say "well actually, yes."

7:07 PM  
Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

Me--I can't believe it's an issue. But it's definitely going to bring out the (lactivist) "troops". I can't wait for an update from you on the situation.

I'd be curious to know if they have a covered cup rule--as in no glass but a covered other kind of cup is okay. (A breast can't be more contained than a cup with a cover/lid.)

Is BHB airing today in your market? It is here, and I'll be in school. I'm not sure how much of ME will be in the show anyway and a bit concerned about how I/doulas will be portrayed. We'll see!


9:22 AM  
Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

"No food and drink in the pool." You know, truth is stranger than fiction.


2:52 PM  

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