Mums allowed to breastfeed in Wellington's public pools

Water won't be the only thing flowing at Wellington City Council pools this Christmas. Mums can now breastfeed their babies in public pools.

"We're really pleased for brand new mums," Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons told Newshub. "Being a new mum can be really socially isolating and lonely, so being able to go to public swimming pools and knowing you can feed your baby is really important."

She says it's been a long time coming and will make a big difference. 

"Other local authorities should look into this issue. We really want to make sure all places throughout New Zealand are comfortable and good places for parents to be able to feed babies when they're hungry."

Just last month the council banned the practise, saying it posed a contamination risk and breached policies against consuming food and beverages in the pool area.

Plunket dismissed the possibility of contamination, but said breastfeeding in a pool did pose a risk to the baby. 

"A chlorinated swimming pool full of other people might not be the most suitable place to breastfeed, but that was a parent's choice," chief nurse Dr Jane O'Malley told Stuff in November.

"When a baby is hungry, it needs to be fed and obviously parents can't dictate when their baby needs feeding but they need to feed it."

She said mothers' breast milk would end up in the pool even if the baby wasn't feeding.

"I think the ban sends a message that there's something bad about breast milk in water and that's just unfortunate because the risk of cross contamination is not true."

Fitzsimons says the freedom should be extended around the country, as the law that prohibited it until now was not based off science.

"Not every breastfeeding mum would want to see their baby in the pool, but I think it's important that it's their choice."

Breastfeeding is also allowed in public pools in Auckland and Christchurch. Hamilton doesn't allow it, but mothers can feed poolside.

Supervising parents and caregivers can now also swim for free with their kids under five.