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A heavily pregnant mother was ordered by bungling lifeguards to take off her vest top in a swimming pool for ‘health and safety reasons’.

Amanda Burch, 41, popped the loose top on over her tankini to cover up her 32-week pregnancy bump as she treated her daughter to a day out.

But the self-conscious mother was horrified when lifeguards pulled her aside and told her to take the maternity vest top off for ‘health and safety reasons’.

While Miss Burch was forced to remove her top, two other women were allowed to cover up on religious grounds.

Miss Burch, a former lifeguard, said she was humiliated but obeyed so she could stay in the pool with her daughter Sophie, 9.

But she was confused when two other women walked in wearing tops and full-length leggings and were allowed to swim on religious grounds.

Miss Burch, from Havant, Hampshire, said: ‘Sophie and I were playing in the pool when a young male lifeguard told me I had to take the top off.

‘I was a lifeguard for eight years so when I was told to take the vest off I knew it was nothing to do with health and safety.

‘I took it off anyway because I didn’t want to have an argument, but the next moment two other women walked in with vests and full-length leggings.

‘I asked another lifeguard why they were allowed and he said it was on religious grounds.

‘He said the only way you were allowed to wear extra clothes was on medical or religious grounds. I was 32 weeks’ pregnant.


‘I complained and put the top back on, but the supervisor said I couldn’t wear it and I had to take it off again for health and safety reasons.

‘I felt very humiliated and embarrassed. I don’t want to come across as racist but I don’t see why there should be one rule for them and one for me.

‘It’s definitely discrimination and I don’t think it’s fair.’

The incident happened at the Pyramids Centre in Southsea, Hampshire.

Miss Burch, a school cook, said: ‘I was totally humiliated and embarrassed.

‘I wore the top because even my tankini did not cover everything. The vest top is a maternity vest top.

‘I know I’m not the first person this has happened to at the swimming pool – I’ve got friends who were trying to cover up just days before giving birth.

‘This was very unfair.

‘I wouldn’t have worn the top if I wasn’t pregnant and I wanted the pool to show a little bit of discretion.’

Miss Burch is due to give birth to hers and partner Tony Saunderson’s baby girl on October 25.

Gary Milne, the chief operating officer of the Pyramids Centre, said policy only permits swimwear in the pools, except for bona fide medical reasons or on religious grounds.

Mr Milne said: ‘In these circumstances, the swimmer is made aware of the potential risks and even in these cases if the lifeguard is not satisfied that it is safe to continue, then they will not permit this.

‘The swimmers’ safety is always the first concern.’

But he added that common sense needed to be used and Miss Burch’s situation seemed ‘perfectly reasonable’ and the incident will be investigated.

He added: ‘We would like to apologise for any upset caused to Miss Burch.’


Miss Burch is not the only person to be ordered to follow health and safety rules.

Mother Stephanie Wilby was humiliated when pool staff threatened to throw her out of a pool unless she stopped breastfeeding her baby.

The 22-year-old was in the water from her waist down feeding her four-month-old son Leo in the corner of a toddler pool as other children and their parents splashed about. 

When Mrs Wilby, who was in the pool with husband Alan and 17-month-old daughter Harmonie, asked why, she claims she was told it was not hygienic.

Bosses at the state-of-the-art Manchester Aquatics Centre, a training venue for last year’s Olympics and Paralympics, have apologised about the incident in August.

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