Stand up for mums' rights to breastfeed

TODAY I went to Rothwell Leisure Centre with my three children and my mother-in-law to spend the afternoon swimming.

It is the first time my baby daughter, nine weeks old, would have swam and my daughter who is three years old hasn't been able to swim due to ear operations for the past year. I have to have support to go swimming due to being disabled, so this trip was well planned and we were all very excited.

When we arrived the baby pool was closed for repair. We agree to use the large pool, we get sorted and get to the pool which turned out to be far too deep for my three-year-old so we make the best of it. My mother-in-law takes care of her and uses the baby ring so she will get in the water; I will have to carry baby in the water even though it's not easy due to my disability.

When I tried to get in the pool my mother-in-law said it was far too cold for my baby. I tested the water with my foot and it certainly wasn't acceptable for a baby. I decided to sit out and let the others enjoy.

My baby then, as babies do, wanted feeding. Not a problem, I am a very proud breast-feeding mum. I happily sit by the pool feeding my beautiful baby girl, no bother to anyone (bearing in mind I have paid to be there swimming).

I am enjoying watching my son and daughter play and then the pool attendant shuts off two lanes for lengths. What a pain – small pool closed and now almost half the large pool too.

We had been there about 40 minutes when the duty manager arrives and tells me not to feed the baby by the pool. I said: "Why? Is it health and safety issue?" He said: "No, no-one wants to see you doing that." I said: "If it was a bottle would that make any difference?" He said: "I haven't had a problem with bottles." I said: "It's my right to feed my baby and the council has a policy to support me in local government buildings."

He wanted me to stop or leave; I did neither. He walked away without introducing himself or telling me what he expected me to do.

I am very upset and disappointed. I then rallied my family together and left.

We were in the pool less than an hour, my son distraught that his birthday treat was ruined, my three-year-old barely got wet, and my baby didn't even feel the water.

I also spoke to the ladies in the canteen who also agreed it wasn't acceptable to be asked not to feed my baby but quoted that it was against Rothwell Leisure Centre's rules to breast feed.

I am very upset. Nobody from the leisure centre wanted to speak about my complaint so I have put it in writing but where will it go?

Mums, get to Rothwell and feed your babies in protest against this sick rule. It's ours and our babies' right to have breast milk!

Lavina Lewin, Church Avenue, Swillington, Leeds

YEP Letters: November 20