Posted by: Jennifer | November 17, 2008

Public Backlash

I have had a few comments on my blog and read a few comments where people are interesting in the “public backlash” that will occur when the HRC rules in Cinira’s favour.  Apparently because the “public” (defined by responses on a few newspaper articles) is not in favour of breastfeeding in a pool, or public breastfeeding in general, this should be a big deal.

I do not actually care if people are offended by public breastfeeding because there is a really simple recourse – that person can look away.  If the sight of a nursing mother so offends someone and they fear that their teenager will become aroused or whatever, then maybe the problem is not the nursing mother, but the person.

If people are against nursing in pools, then don’t swim when a mother is nursing.  I bet most people will never see a nursing mom in a pool.

The simple fact remains that a breastfeeding mother cannot be discriminated against.

That’s it.

Posted by: Jennifer | November 16, 2008

Just a bit of a clarification

I missed a day of blogging for a personal reason.

I love having this blog – it has always been a dream of mine to blog and I love being able to blog about breastfeeding and chat with like minded people and read other blogs.  I also like the debate aspect that this Newmarket breastfeeding discrimination at the Aquacentre has brought.  It makes me think and learn.

I need to clarify a few things for people and I hope that those who are reading my blog read this:

1.  I am not Cinira, the mother who was discriminated against, nor am I part of the group of people who went to the Aquacentre to exercise their rights to breastfeed.  I am a supporter of Cinira though.  She was discriminated against and I would like her to have justice for that.

2.  This is my blog.  I love that all sorts of people read and comment and I have never censored any comments or not allowed any comments as of now, but I am tired of reading comments telling me to “get a life” or generally attacking.  You may disagree completely with what is going up but consider the fact that you are coming to a breastfeeding blog.  Also please be respectful here.


ETA:  I have now had to edit a comment.  Edits will be bolded.  Please keep personally attacking and insulting people out of comments.

Posted by: Jennifer | November 13, 2008

Sorry Ellie Karkouti, but you are in the wrong

It has been clear this entire time that Ellie Karkouti, the owner of the Newmarket Aquacentre has been in the wrong regarding telling a nursing mother to leave the pool a few weeks ago. 

The Globe and Mail has done a fantastic job reporting on this issue, where they quote a Newmarket town official, a doctor in infections from Mt. Sinai as well as other experts.

Good for Cinira, the nursing mother, for taking a stance in this issue.  I wish her well as she takes this case all the way!


Nursing your baby: Not cool in the pool?

November 13, 2008

Canadians have grown accustomed to the sight of breastfeeding moms at coffee shops, libraries and shopping malls. But what about in an indoor pool?

When a mother was asked to stop breastfeeding her 20-month-old daughter in a Newmarket, Ont., swimming pool last month, the case sparked an uproar that pitted breastfeeding advocates against those who can’t get past the ick factor in that setting.

The mother, Cinira Longuinho, is asking the Ontario Human Rights Commission to investigate whether her right to breastfeed was violated. The pool owner, Ellie Karkouti, says she was concerned for the baby’s health and the health of other swimmers.

Some jurisdictions in Canada have pool safety regulations that group breast milk and baby vomit among the body fluids that can cause a pool to be shut down for cleaning.

In Newmarket, there is no municipal policy banning mothers from breastfeeding in pools, town spokeswoman Wanda Bennett says.

Women are encouraged to breastfeed anywhere they like, she said.

Trying to keep breastfeeding women out of pools, whether backed up by policy or not, may stem from the fact that pools are wet environments and thus widely considered a breeding ground for bacteria, says Allison McGeer, director of infection control at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. But Dr. McGeer and other health experts say there is no cause for concern for the breastfed child or the swimmers.

Breastfeeding in a pool doesn’t increase children’s exposure to bacteria, since they’ve presumably already been submerged in the water, Dr. McGeer says. Healthy toddlers encounter bacteria everywhere they go and in their food, she adds. “You are counting on the chlorination of our public pools, there’s no doubt about it. That’s important.”

And the chlorine itself isn’t much of a concern, says Madeleine Harned, a lactation consultant at BC Children’s Hospital who said she would not advise mothers in her care against breastfeeding in a pool. “There’s chlorine in tap water.”

Gideon Koren, director of the Motherisk program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, says any arguments about a baby’s welfare used to ban a woman from breastfeeding in a pool are based on “pseudoscience.” And, “when people use pseudoscience to make scientific arguments, it becomes very suspicious. It’s very aggressive nonsense.”

As for the fear that the breast milk itself may contaminate pool water, Dr. McGeer dismisses the idea. Unlike urine and excrement, breast milk is sterile. “A little bit of breast milk getting into the pool is not an issue,” she says.

And baby spit-up is no different from the saliva that routinely gets in the pool, according to Dr. McGeer. While a baby vomiting in a pool may be gross – “I can see us not wanting to see it,” she says – it’s not infectious. It has little bacterial growth in it, she says.

When it comes to blood-borne illnesses that may be carried by the mother, Dr. McGeer says HIV-positive mothers are discouraged from breastfeeding and a mom with hepatitis B would only be infectious if her breasts were cracked and bleeding into the breast milk. In that case, regulations prohibiting swimming with open sores would presumably apply.

Instead, experts say, this case highlights a lingering difficulty with public breastfeeding.

“When push comes to shove, we still have trouble with breasts in public. We know we shouldn’t, but we do,” Dr. McGeer says.

Posted by: Jennifer | November 13, 2008

CBC video on Newmarket Breastfeeding Discrimination

If you click on the above and go to 19 minutes and 35 seconds, you can see the story.  The owner essentially shoots herself in the foot here – she claims no discrimination but the very act of asking the nursing mother to move is discrimination.  As for the owners claim about bowel movements or spitting up – the same can be said of any baby at any time.  Having Laura from Caledon, who already won a similar case at the Human Rights Tribunal (in addition to the other cases posted about here), it becomes more and more clear that this was an act of discrimination.  And now the public is seeing it as well.

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

Posted by: Jennifer | November 12, 2008

Breastfeeding Rights

All over the news right now are stories on the breastfeeding discrimination that took place a few weeks ago at the Aquacentre in Newmarket, Ontario.  As this story gains significant media attention, I have noticed a few things.

1.  People are very hung up on the concept of “being discreet”.  Being discreet is not the issue and has never been the issue and will never be the issue.  Whether you (proverbial you) like it or not, breastfeeding is a protected right under the Ontario Human Rights Code.  If mom takes off her top, or covers her baby with a blanket, it makes zero difference.  Breastfeeding women cannot be discriminated against.

2.  People are under the impression that the mother, Cinira L., was breastfeeding in the pool (as in fully submerged with her baby under the water).  Besides being impossible, it’s ridiculous.  It has been shown several times that breastmilk will not contaminate the water in any way.  As for the people who are so concerned about Cinera’s child ingesting pool water, I sincerely hope that they do not take their children to public pools – ever – because all children ingest water, through their skin, eyes, mouth, etc, while swimming.

3.  Lactivists do not advocate for breastfeeding in cars or in the middle of a highway.  To compare breastfeeding in a pool to taking your baby out of a moving car and driving with the baby breastfeeding on your lap is not only ridiculous but insulting as well.

To sum up the laws, I have found an excellent post on  Angela White, a lawyer and breastfeeding counselor, discusses the laws in Ontario and in Canada on this issue.   She also shows people what to do if they are discriminated against.  She states:

Section 10(2) The Ontario Human Rights Code specifies:

The right to equal treatment without discrimination because of sex includes the right to equal treatment without discrimination because a woman is or may become pregnant.

R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 10 (2).

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) developed a Policy on Discrimination Because of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding (PDF document) which further explains the law and its interpretation and implementation. It clarifies that the protections for pregnancy include the post-natal period, which includes breastfeeding. The policy statement elaborates:

You have rights as a nursing mother. For example, you have the right to breastfeed a child in a public area. No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to “cover up”, disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more “discreet”.

There are also protections on the federal level. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifies:

15(1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.

INFACT Canada explains what women can do if they have been harassed for breastfeeding:

Report the incident to the Human Rights Commission in your province. As commissions don’t handle many complaints about breastfeeding, individual officers may be unfamiliar with the issue and require some explanation of why this is discrimination, or why the provision of an alternative place to breastfeed is not enough. Be persistent. Contact a women’s rights organization, La Leche League or other group for help and support if you feel you are not being heard.

According to the OHRC website, complaints are now to be filed directly with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.


Some people ask, “why do you even care” or “what’s the big deal about being discreet”?  I think that those are good questions.  The big deal is that no two women are built the same and no two babies are built the same.  While one woman may be fully able to nurse her baby with no part of her body showing, the same may be quite difficult for another woman.  Since it is impossible to actually define “discreet” or “common sense”, it is important for everyone to know that women are fully protected and able to breastfeeding without discrimination in public. 

And for all the people who are so offended and worried about maybe seeing a small part of a woman’s breast while she is nursing, I have a great suggestion – look elsewhere!

Check out the article I wrote for Wild Parenting on the subject of nursing covers and don’t forget to enter the contest that ends today!

Posted by: Jennifer | November 12, 2008

Canadian Breastfeeding Bras

While tag surfing today, I came across a company called Honeymilk Designs that makes nursing bras in Canada!

I always find it exciting to see a product manufactured in Canada so I thought I would pass this on.

The nursing mom behind these bras and this company has her own blog that anyone can check out.  Her website just launced so it seems like a pretty exciting time for her and this fledgling company!

Posted by: Jennifer | November 12, 2008

Great Website – Great Cause!

I just found a fantastic website called Natural Mothering Canada.  This fantastic website has some great information and I highly recommend that you check it out.

One thing caught my eye and it is an article called Breastfeeding in Canada:  A Call to our Government.

Breastfeeding in Canada: a Call to our Government

“Breast is Best.”

That’s what they tell us. And yet what is our government doing to support breastfeeding women in our country?

Right now in Toronto, The Newman Breastfeeding Clinic & Institute, considered a world leader in breastfeeding education and support, is pleading for donations. Because with out new funding, the Clinic is in serious danger of closing down.

The Newman Breastfeeding Clinic lost all Government funding in 2005, and since then has relied on the sole support of a private donor. That funding has now come to an end.

Right now the Clinic helps over 2500 mothers every year, and is place of last resort for mothers who aren’t able to find help from other clinics or from private lactation consultants, doctors, or public health nurses.

and so to repeat: what is our government doing to provide the best start in life to it’s newest citizens?

Many families have written to their provincial Ministry of Health, asking for funding and better breastfeeding support. The replies to these outcries is a form letter full of empty words and typical governmentese platitudes about how they are “Exploring how to integrate breastfeeding approaches into a comprehensive continuum initiatives into maternal and pediatric health….”

It means nothing. And they are doing nothing.

Now it’s time to change this.

We have written a letter to the Government of Ontario telling them that their so called “support” is seriously lacking and asking them what initiatives are being developed by the Ministry of Health to address breastfeeding support and education and also, the time lines for those initiatives to be implemented.

We are asking that everyone please send a copy of this letter to their local MP, and to the Minister of Health of their province. Please forward a copy to my email address, as we are hoping to present a collection of all of the letters to the government in person. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

And if you are one of the many many women in Canada who struggled to breastfeed and couldn’t find the support or information or the help you needed, please tell your story- tell your MPP and Minister of Health about how the system failed you!!

So please spread the word far and wide!!! Ask your friends and family to speak out!

We are also at this moment in the process of organizing a Rally at Queen’s Park in Toronto. As soon as we have the details, we will post it here.

Find a copy of the letter on the next page ->

Dear Sir/Madam

As World Breastfeeding Week has come to an end, I am left wondering “What did our government do to promote breastfeeding this year?” Sadly there has been nothing done. I would like to focus our governments attention on the health of our children and the policies that are needed to insure that they are receiving the best possible start in life.

We know that “Breast is Best”. We know that Babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life and that breastfeeding should continue for up to 2 years and beyond. We know that breastfed babies have a significantly lower risk of many major health problems. A more important consideration however, is that formula fed babies have a much higher risk of asthma, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, obesity and ear infections. All of which lead to increased emergency room visits and hospitalization, adding unnecessary costs to our already strained provincial health care system. It is also important to remember that women who have breastfed have a reduced risk of ovarian and cervical cancer, osteoporosis, post-partum depression. The longer a woman breastfeeds in her life, the lower her risk of breast cancer. One study in Iceland suggests a 50% decrease if the mother breastfeeds 2 years or more.

We know these things. So why are more Canadian mothers not breastfeeding their babies?

At this moment breastfeeding support is provided at many hospitals which are funded by the Local Health Integration Networks. The government promotes breastfeeding through the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program and through the Public Health Mandatory Health Programs.

On paper this may seem like enough support, enough funding. But obviously it is not when the following statistics are considered.

The latest facts tell us that 90% of mothers in Toronto initiate breastfeeding in the hospital at birth. However, after they are discharged, these number fall drastically. Many stop breastfeeding in the first month, and by six months of age, the number plummets to only 17% . The reason is simple : they do not have the support they need to properly initiate breastfeeding, to insure that they continue to nurse effectively, or to aid them in overcoming the problems and issues they may encounter.

At this moment there are only 9 hospitals in Canada which have achieved the WHO/UNICEF “Baby Friendly” Status. There is not enough education about breastfeeding within the Canadian medical community. Women should be learning about breastfeeding and receiving support from the medical professionals they are closely in contact with, ie their obstetricians & midwives, maternity care nurses and public health nurses. In order for them to be able to provide effective support and information, those professionals need to first have access to the information themselves. New mothers regularly receive conflicting information from the very professionals on whom they rely to aid them in establishing breastfeeding. I believe that our government needs to encourage all Canadian hospitals to attain “Baby Friendly” Status. In so doing , medical personnel within our hospitals and out in our communities, need to be further educated on the support that new mothers require to initiate and continue breastfeeding successfully. They need to be educated on the latest information and studies regarding breastfeeding and infant health. This would also be achieved by educating and employing more Lactation Consultants (IBCLC)

I realize that both the MOHLTC and MHP are continuing to collaborate on issues concerning maternal and infant health, including breastfeeding and that the staff are exploring how to integrate breastfeeding approaches into a comprehensive continuum of initiatives on prenatal, maternal and paediatric health. I would like to know exactly HOW they are approaching these initiatives, what initiatives are being developed by MOH to address breastfeeding support and education and also, the time lines for those initiatives to be implemented.

Please look through this fantastic website and help out with this great cause if you are able!

I would like to call upon you, our elected government officials, to move forward and initiate new policies with regards to providing the necessary support to breastfeeding women in Ontario. The support that is in place right now is obviously lacking and without new policies and new funding, Canadian infants will not receive the support they need for the best possible start in life.

Posted by: Jennifer | November 12, 2008

New Toronto Star Article

The Toronto Star has covered the story on what occurred at the Newmarket Aquacentre.  I find the article fairly balanced and feel that it would be a good read for people who are interested.

Mother fights for right to nurse in pool

Comments on this story (9)

Susan Pigg


A breastfeeding brouhaha has broken out at a York Region swimming facility.

At one end of Newmarket’s AquaCenter Swim School pool is Cinira Longuinho, who wants Ontario’s Human Rights Commission to investigate why she was asked to leave the water Oct. 24 while breastfeeding her 20-month-old daughter Camilla on the pool steps.

At the other end – and drowning in a sea of blogs, emails and protests – is pregnant AquaCenter owner Ellie Karkouti. She hired four security guards, not expecting them to show up in bulletproof vests, when Longuinho and her supporters threatened a “peaceful nursing protest” last Friday.

In between are a whole bunch of people who are quietly wondering why breastfeeding still causes such a flood of emotions and how things got so out of control, right in the midst of York Region’s “Anytime, Anywhere” breastfeeding campaign.

“I believe in breastfeeding, just not in the pool,” says pool owner Karkouti, 39, who is 17 weeks pregnant with her first child. “I gave her two options. I said I have comfortable chairs in the change room or the viewing gallery.”

According to Karkouti, while salt and chlorine reduce dangerous bacteria in a pool, the water’s still “filled with stuff that you can’t kill – people’s pee and sweat and body stuff is in there. Am I ever going to stick my baby’s mouth on a breast that’s been in a pool without cleaning it (first)? Never, ever.”

Longuinho, 32, was chatting with a bunch of mothers and kids during their weekly, hour-long swim session at AquaCenter when her daughter became cranky. Rather than climb out of the warm water onto the cool deck, out of range of her friends, Longuinho started nursing Camilla on the stairs, with her breasts above water.

She claims Karkouti came up to her a few minutes later and gave her one option: the change room. “I didn’t know what to do,” says Longuinho. “I was embarrassed. In reality, I wanted to pretend that nothing had happened.”

So she spent the last few minutes swimming with her daughter, then fed her in the change room and, later, her car, where she started to realize: “What happened was wrong. I knew that, based on the law, I had the right to breastfeed in a public place.”

Longuinho, who emigrated from Brazil four years ago, says English isn’t her first language and blames that, in part, for what happened next.

When friends expressed outrage – and her daughter’s former pediatrician stressed there should be “no qualification” on where a mother feeds her child – Longuinho urged them to join her in a “peaceful protest for breastfeeding” at the AquaCenter last Friday. She says she simply intended to feed her child in the pool. But then details of the “protest” hit breastfeeding sites and blogs – and Karkouti’s email inbox. Fearing that dozens of angry lactivists might show up at her pool, Karkouti contacted York Regional Police.

When it became clear they had no intention of sending uniformed officers, she says, Karkouti hired $400 worth of her own protection – four security guards who kept the 20 or so protesters, many of them children, at bay.

“I guess that’s what they come with,” Karkouti said yesterday of the Kevlar-clad guards. “I didn’t even notice. All I thought was, `If I have 400 people trying to force their way in, what am I supposed to do?'”

Says Longuinho: “We weren’t carrying signs or anything. The idea was to go and talk to her (Karkouti) and nurse in the pool. One of the guards even had handcuffs. I believe it was to intimidate us.”

Karkouti was so concerned the protest might foul the water, forcing a costly cleanup or shutdown, she refused to let the group in.

Longuinho is pondering her next move. “What happened was wrong,” she says. “I want to use it as an example for other mothers that they should not be afraid of breastfeeding, even in a pool.”

It’s far from the first time a lactating mother has been kicked out of a pool. After a number of “breastfeeding incidents” at municipal pools (this pool is privately owned), the Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton urged governments to uniformly adopt breastfeeding-friendly regulations, saying there is no evidence the practice is unsafe for babies, their mothers or others in the pool.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission says breastfeeding women can’t be prohibited from feeding their babies in public, or ordered to move to areas considered more “discreet.” But the Ministry of Health sets rules that ban food and drink around pools, says Karkouti, and if breastfeeding is allowed, bottles should also be allowed.

A Ministry of Health official who is aware of this incident couldn’t be reached for comment.

Toronto Star

November 12, 2008

Posted by: Jennifer | November 11, 2008

No updates today

I have mastitis/the flu, something.  I can barely drag myself from my bed to type this.  Blech.

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