Posted by: Jennifer | November 13, 2008

Continuing the Newmarket Aquacentre Breastfeeding Discrimination Saga

Citytv is also carrying the story.  There is also a link to a video to watch.

Poolside Breast Feeding Leads To Huge Controversy

Wednesday November 12, 2008
A Newmarket pool owner dipped her toe into a controversial issue when she banned a woman who was breast feeding her child from the private facility.

Cinira Longuinho, 32, claims she was sitting on the steps of the pool, which are covered with water but are not completely submerged. She had been encouraged by her doctor to feed her 20-month-old daughter breast milk, and knew it was within her legal right to do so in public.

She didn’t think much of feeding Camilla, and that’s why she says she was stunned when she was asked to cover up October 24.

“This lady came and she said that she was the owner and had a complaint and for me to use the change room to breast-feed,” explains Longuinho.

“I was very surprised, very shocked about all that and didn’t know what to do so I stopped breast-feeding.”

But she didn’t understand the decision, and she didn’t feel right about it. So she took her complaint against the AquaCenter Swim Pool and Ellie Karkouti to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

“Breast-feeding is like something that since my childhood I always dreamed about when I had a baby I would breast-feed her,” she described.

However, Karkouti, who is pregnant herself, said it was not the act of breast feeding, but a sanitary issue.

In fact, she even put a sign (below) up outside the facility.

“You’re not supposed to obviously urinate in the pool. If you have an open cut or a sore you’re not supposed to go in the pool. So a bodily fluid is a bodily fluid,” she argued.

“The mother should not be allowed to do that,” Karkouti added.

She proposed a compromise, saying nursing mothers could feed their babies as long as they were six feet back from the open water.  But she says Longuinho and her supporters didn’t agree to that, so she has banned them from the centre.

That’s fine with Longuinho. When asked if she would ever go back, she said, “no, I don’t think so.”

Karkouti does plan to breastfeed, just not in a pool.


Find out what the Ontario Human Rights Commission has to say about breastfeeding 

Lack Of Funding Threatens To Close Respected Toronto Breastfeeding Clinic



  1. Are you kidding me!!!! This lady has some serious issues, there is nothing wrong at all for breast feeding in a public area…but why would you put your child at risk and breast feed in a pool with all the chemicals, there are more serious issues that need to be put out in the open, and this is not one of them, get a life, this type of behavior makes me so furious.

  2. I have been debating this topic on numerous websites. A new question I have:
    This all started when someone complained to Ms. Karkouti, the owner of the pool, and Ms. Karkouti then proceeded to not question that complaint but to ask Ms. Longuinho to move from the pool steps. What exactly was the complaint? Was the person uncomfortable by the act of breastfeeding in public? Was the person concerned that the breastmilk may end up in the pool? Was the person concerned that the baby may be at risk health wise from the pool water that may have been on the mother’s breasts before they went in the babies mouth? The reason I ask these questions is because it goes to motive as to why the nurse-in/protest/media attention after the fact is necessary. The pool owner obviously did not know enough about a mother’s right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere nor did she know the fact that breastmilk is not a biohazard and does not in anyway contaminate a pool or any surface it comes in contact with nor did she know that the baby is protected against any pool water (that may have been in contact with mom’s breasts prior to the feeding) by the mother’s own breastmilk (antibodies and antibacterial properties) – which by the way is why breastfeeding in the pool is undeniably safer than bottlefeeding formula would be. The nurse-in/protest/media attention after the fact therefore helps to educate the public and hopefully all pool owners that if someone complains to them in the future, instead of passing on the complaint to the breastfeeding mother the owner can educate the complainant about the law and human biology and support the breastfeeding mother by suggesting the complainant leave the pool if they are still uncomfortable with the situation. This ‘education’ is why it is so important that this debate continues in as many public forums as possible.

  3. Jennifer – I don’t know how many times it has to be said, and I strongly suggest you read through my blog as I link to the Edmonton Report, that a baby breastfeeding in the swimming pool poses no more health risk than it would for ANY child or baby swimming in the pool.

    1. This baby was NOT submerged under the water.
    2. ANY child/toddler swimming in the water will ingest water – through their eyes, mouths, ears, nose, skin. If you find it gross, then I’m sure that you find all swimming gross.
    3. People care because this is an issue of human rights. Just as I would care if anyone was discriminated against based on any of the prohibited grounds on the human rights code, I care about this act of discrimination.

    Sonja – great post as always! Thank-you for your contributions here, I really appreciate it!

  4. It has nothing to do with human rights – nobody these days has an issue with a woman feeding her baby in public; it’s about health and safety. I’ve been following this story – she was not asked to “cover up”, rather she was asked to feed her baby OUTSIDE of the pool in ANY area she chooses. Bodily fluids are bodily fluids – urine, feces, mucus, saliva, AND breast milk. Yes, sometimes mucus and saliva are emitted INADVERTENTLY while swimming, but the laws govern that you are not to INTENTIONALLY emit bodily fluids into a public pool. And yes, it is advised by many health care practitioners that breastfeeding is the healthy choice for your baby, but there’s no reason whatsoever that it must be done in a pool. This woman is a stay at home mother (of a 2 1/2 year old, might I add) that has nothing better to do with her time but cause a ruckus and an expecting mother unnecessary stress. Get a life. All of you.

  5. on the steps of the pool – Lady are you ignorant or just looking for a little publicity?

  6. The more I read this story and the different takes on it by reporters the more I see it is a non issue. She wasn’t told she “couldn’t” she was asked not to do it o the steps or in the pool: So what
    Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act
    Section 10, paragraph 5:
    “Every owner and every operator shall ensure that no food or beverage except water is supplied or consumed in the pool or on the deck”

    Get a life ladies – this is not a worthy article nor is it a human rights issue.

  7. Jackie and adanswers, Thank-you for stopping by and reading my blog. I appreciate all comments and discussion, but I do not appreciate being told to “get a life” on my own blog – a blog that I have dedicated to breastfeeding. If you do not like what I read or post, do not read it, it’s that simple. Another good analogy would be if you don’t like watching or seeing breastfeeding, just don’t look at it.

    I suggest that both of you read the Globe and Mail article that I posted. You will clearly see from leading experts in their fields (including someone from motherisk, the head of infectious diseases at Mt. Sinai, a Newmarket Town Official, a Lactation Consultant, etc) that there is no issue with breastfeeding in the pool and no contamination or health concerns.

    And so what if Cinira is a stay at home mother of a 2 1/2 year old – is there something wrong with being a stay at home mother?

    As for Cinira, although I have never met her, I have emailed with her now on a few occasions and never have I encountered a person who is not out for fame or money or who is as humble and kind as she is.

    Fighting discrimination is always a worthy cause.

  8. The globe and mail article is completely wrong…. chlorine DOES NOT kill all parasites in a pool. Maybe the doctor should have read up on pool water safety. If i were you guys i would not use him as reference.

    Its amazing what people will do to get on the front page of a paper. This includes the mother as well as this doctor.

    You have had sooooo much negative press on this issue… i would think that you would see this and move off this topic. The 20 people you have supporting you can’t keep up with all these negative comments.

    The question is still…. why breastfeed in a pool? Why?

    I believe discrimination would be when someone because of their skin color, race, gender or religious beliefs is killed, uprooted, tortured, etc. Being asked to move out of a pool because you are breastfeeding is truly not a human rights discrimination. Its a public health issue.

  9. Angela,

    I don’t think you realize that I am not one of the people who goes to the Newmarket aquacentre or the mom involved in this. I am a blogger following the story.

    The doctor is the HEAD of infectious diseases at one of the world’s top hospitals. I think I’ll take her word over yours.

    As for why breastfeed in a pool you need to realize that the mom herself was sitting on the steps of the pool – the baby was not underwater, submerged or anything like that. The mom was sitting and chatting with her friends while remaining warm and having her baby remain warm and safe and comfortable.

    And it really does not matter what you think discrimination is – it matters what the Ontario Human Rights Code says it is. And breastfeeding is a prohibited ground that is protected so to tell someone to stop, move or cover up is discrimination, not matter what your thoughts are.

  10. The owner told Cinira to go to the CHANGEROOM. She did not simply tell her to get out of the pool. The owner is clearly stating (she even has a sign out front of her facility) that there is no breastfeeding allowed in or AROUND the pool.

    Even if you want to ignore the information provided in the report (which led to the city of Edmonton allowing breastfeeding IN and around pools), and the Globe and Mail article, then perhaps we can explore what actually happens when a mother breastfeeds.

    Please keep in mind this mother was asked to leave because the FEEDING was taking place inside the pool area. Mom/baby’s lower boby was in the water, breasts were out and so was the baby’s mouth (since babies can’t hold their breath that long =} This is not about the baby/mother not being allowed in the pool before or after a feeding…

    There really isn’t a bunch of breastmilk spraying around anywhere DURING a feeding. During a feeding the milk is going into the baby’s mouth. Babies have really great suction, actually they need it to effectively extract the milk from the breast. This is why moms are taught how to break that suction to avoid nipple damage. So, there is less chance of breastmilk getting into the pool DURING a feeding.

    However there is a risk of breastmilk getting into the pool if a mother feels she has to wait BEFORE a feeding. Mothers will get a ‘let down’ reflex from simply hearing, thinking or looking at her baby etc. The ‘let down’ is not controlled by the mother. The milk will rush forward, from the ducts that produce it, so that it is easily available for the baby at the beginning of a feeding when they most need it. If the baby isn’t at the breast, then it will leak, this is why women have breast pads and/or wet spots on the fronts of their shirts;}

    If a feeding has been interupted then a mother may still leak AFTER a feeding too. (like when she gets back into the pool)

    So you can see that simply not allowing the mother to breastfeed in or around the pool will not eliminate the risk of breastmilk getting into the pool. It actually increases that risk…

  11. To continue with the health issues – breastmilk has it’s own classification. The CDC states that universal precautions do not apply.

    ‘No special precautions exist for handling expressed human milk, nor does the milk require special labeling. It is not considered a biohazard. The Universal Precautions to prevent the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B virus, and other bloodborne pathogens do not apply to human milk.’

    There is a very indepth report that was drafted after the same situation came up at a pool in Edmonton. It really is an interesting report and if you are truly interested then take the time to read it as it will dispell many of the myths here. Pages 15-20 are the ones addressing the excuses used by pool owners.

    So if you take away any health concerns for moms, babies or the fellow patrons then the question becomes…Why not? It is because people are uncomfortable with seeing the act of breastfeeding.

    Which brings me to another question. Who really needs to be considerate? The person who can take the millisecond to turn their head to avoid their personal discomfort, or the mom AND baby that have to get out of a warm pool to hide away in a changeroom for 20 minutes?

  12. Again the only issue is about people feeling uncomfortable with seeing a woman breastfeed… This resonates with most people, or at least the younger generation, as many more families are use to breastfeeding and it seems like a very outdated idea to hide women and babies away in the back room so that others can be comfortable.

    So can it not be put back on you, Angela? Back to my original comment. Is it not more considerate, in our compassionate society, to turn your head if you are uncomfortable with a mother feeding her baby, instead of forcing a mother AND her baby to hide away for 20 minutes while she does what a HUGE portion of our population has to do, several times a day, every day, for months or years?

    The reason that Public health is so interested in the anytime, anywhere campaign is because breastfeeding is a health issue. If a mother does not breastfeed she needs to use breastmilk substitutes to feed her child/ren.

    Breastmilk substitues are not breastmilk and have been proven to carry risks. These risks can lead to short and long term health risks to both the mother and the baby. As a society, this is a concern because it creates more of a burden on the health care system.

    One of the big reasons why mom’s don’t breastfeed is because they feel they cannot carry on with their lives if they have to hide away from everyone to breastfeed. Newborns feed, on average, 8-10 times a day. Many feedings can last 20 minutes. Do the math – a new mother would never be able to go anywhere if she was always hidding away to breastfeed. Who would want to breastfeed then?

    And that is why we, as a society, need to change the social norm so that breastfeeding a baby isn’t a sexual act – WHICH IT ISN’T! Thankfully, as I said before, most people now have no problem with it..

  13. CanadianLactivist – thanks for giving us a place to dispell the myths and fight the discrimination. Sorry if I have taken up so much space =}. Moms should not be punished for breastfeeding. It’s already enough work just being a mom!

  14. So you think that *only* breastfeeding mothers should be allowed to disregard the “No food/drink IN the pool” rule?
    Wouldn’t a bottle-feeding mother then have a case for discrimination? Should bottle-feeding be allowed in the pool, too? Some women can’t breastfeed, like my friend who had her breasts removed due to cancer. Why should Cirina be allowed to feed her child in the pool, and not my friend? That sounds like discrimination. And what if your child doesn’t like milk, and prefers potato chips instead? Why can’t the chips be consumed in the pool, too?
    See how silly this is? Isn’t it better just to have one rule that applies to EVERYONE?

  15. Have you read any of the other posts on this website at all. Every single thing you ask here has already been addressed and discussed.

    Bottle feeding is not a protected right. Just for the record.

  16. Sam S. THANK-YOU for your support!

    I really appreciate all of your comments. Seriously, I really appreciate them! You have great knowledge!

  17. Yes, I did read a few. Not all, no. I didn’t see these issues addressed in the posts I read. So you’re in favour of breastfeeding in the pool, but not bottle-feeding?

  18. Realist, I don’t know if you actual grasp what discrimination is. I suggest you read up on the prohibited grounds on the Ontario Human Rights Code. First of all, “no food or drink” is a pool rule not a Ministry of Health rule, and that rule does not apply to breastfeeding because the right to breastfeed anytime anywhere trumps it.

    Bottlefeeding is not a protected right so the point is moot. The contents of breastmilk and formula are very different and while breastmilk does not cause any sort of problems with the water, perhaps formula does.

    Again, it doesn’t matter because breastfeeding is a protected right. Talk to me again when bottlefeeding mothers are told to go to other places, told they are indecent, looked upon in bad ways, told to cover up. Talk to me again when you stop seeing baby bottle represent baby everywhere you turn from wrapping paper, to onesies, to signs on doors, to dolls with bottles, etc.


  19. Um, isn’t breastmilk *sterile*?

    I’d worry about incontinence, not sterile breastmilk in a pool. Anyway, if you feed a baby beforehand, wouldn’t they possibly have a little spit-up…do we ban babies from pools altogether?

    Wow, what a big issue for such little people!

  20. I read somewhere recently that 75%+ of babies are breastfed nowadays- I’m sure you can correct me if the stat was wrong. Breastfeeders are hardly the persecuted subgroup of society you’d like to portray us as. MOST babies are breastfed. If ANYTHING, it’s bottle-feeders who are subjected to the snide remarks and dirty looks- most of them from other mothers!
    And you can always assume that it’s breastmilk in the dolly’s bottle.

    The pool is the only place I can think of where the breastfeeder is requiring others to come into contact with her breastmilk. It’s an unusual situation.

    Materbead- Pee is also sterile. No, don’t ban babies. Ellie hasn’t banned them, but if your kid pukes in her pool, she charges you $75 to clean the pool. Fair enough.
    I like it when people comment on the people commenting on an issue. It’s funny. And ironic.

  21. Realist, check your stats. Something like 75% or more babies start off being breastfed but by three months, six months, one year, the stats are remarkably low.

    Breastfeeding is the biological norm, but breastfeeding is the societal norm. I would like to see more dolls without bottles at all so that little kids who play with them don’t even make that association. With my daughter, she breastfeeds her dolls and I take all the bottles from her as a rule.

    Yes, this situation is unusual, however there is clear precidence showing that Cinira is well within her rights.

  22. Lactivits, Bottle-Feeding is not a protected right?

    For that matter neither is breastfeeding – since it itself is only protected based on the grounds of being a women and in the parent-child relationship.

    Discrimination is prohibited against women and prohibited based on family status. Bottle-feeding is also a clear activity that is part of this.

    Get your law straight – just because discimination against women that feed their children via a bottle has not yet been asserted or considered, it is well within the realm of possibility, sound, and rational to be brought forward.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: