Breastfeeding row sparks massive reaction after mum Sophie Howes breastfed baby at Stour Centre pool in Ashford
Sophie Howes with her eight-month-old daughter Connie
The story of a woman told off by pool bosses after breastfeeding her baby near a pool has sparked a huge reaction.
Nearly 1,900 of you have joined in our poll asking if it was right for pool bosses to say Sophie Howes' breastfeeding at the Stour Leisure Centre poolside was offensive.
It comes after the mum said she was feeding her eight-month-old daughter Connie on steps leading to the learner pool at the Ashford centre when a staff member said her actions were "offensive" and asked her to move to another area.
The 27-year-old said the pool water came up to her waist and was covering her baby's feet, but her breast and the baby’s head were not in the water.
Sophie, a midwife who lives in Landbury Walk, Ashford, said: "At the time I was embarrassed because I didn't know who else could hear what she was saying.
"I felt humiliated and she made me feel like I was doing something wrong.
"Afterwards, when I remembered her saying my breastfeeding was offensive, I was really angry.
Sophie Howes was told she could not breastfeed at the Stour Centre
"It is irrelevant whether I was in the water or not because that is not what the staff member said to me to begin with."
Now, 996 of you have said it is offensive to breastfeed at a public swimming pool, while an almost equal 926 say it is not.
More than 200 of you have also commented on the story, with opinion equally divided.
Evergreen wrote: "So many people who don't support breastfeeding mothers, it's sad.
"Fortunately, the law does. It really does not matter if you are offended by a baby eating, the law protects their right to be fed when needed, wherever they are."
Is it 'offensive' to breastfeed at a public swimming pool?
But Brighteyes said: "I am a mother of four and breast fed them all.
"I have no problem with feeding a baby in a public area.
"However, you do not need to create attention as Sophie has, unless you want to.
"This child is at an age where it having regular meal times of normal food, and does not need a feed so desperately that she could not have walked up the steps and fed her child at the poolside, like anyone else would!"
Emma Wood, chief executive of the Ashford Leisure Trust, said it supports breastfeeding at all its sites.
She added: "On this occasion it was believed there was a legitimate health and safety risk – ie, feeding actually taking place while both the mother and baby were in the water, and a suitable alternative area just a couple of metres away was suggested.
"We do of course apologise for any upset caused."
What do you think? Join our poll above or add your comment below.
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