MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two Minnesota mothers say they left a public pool after staff scolded them for breastfeeding their babies.
“We were so taken aback we didn’t even have a chance to respond,” said Mora resident Stephanie Buchanan.
This happened in the small town of Mora, which is about 90 minutes north of the Twin Cities.
When 3-month-old Roman got fussy with mom in the shallow end of the Mora Aquatic Center, she knew he was hungry.
“There’s not really a choice sometimes, so I was wearing a one-piece swimsuit, slipped my strap down and just fed him,” Buchanan said.
She was there with her sister in law, who had also breastfed her baby in the wading area. Together, they had six kids with them. The women say shortly after Roman was fed, another guest approached them.
“A patron came up, a lady at the pool, and told me that I needed to cover up because her sons were swimming,” Buchanan said.
Then the women say a staff member asked them to cover up, or go to the locker area. The women refused.
“The reason I didn’t get out of the pool to breastfeed is my kids,” said Pine City resident Mary Davis. “I got to watch my kids.”
Minnesota statute states the following: “A mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast-feeding.”
A police officer eventually showed up, and the women decided to leave.
Buchanan posted about the experience on Facebook, and the post has gone viral. There is even a nurse-in planned at the pool to support nursing mothers.
“We just don’t want any other mom to feel that she needs to cover up,” Davis said.
The women are filing discrimination charges with the Department of Human Rights against the city and county.
Mora city officials told WCCO-TV Friday that staff did ask the women to be discrete or relocate to another area at the aquatic center.
In a statement, they said they support breastfeeding mothers, but also that the situation inside of the kiddie pool made many patrons uncomfortable.
They said they apologized to the two women “if they were offended by how they were treated.”