MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dozens of nursing mothers peacefully protested outside a swimming pool Saturday after two women say they were scolded for breast-feeding there.
The incident happened Wednesday at the Mora Aquatic Center, which is about 90 minutes north of the Twin Cities.
Stephanie Buchanan and her sister-in-law, Mary Davis, were breast-feeding their babies when a staff member asked them to cover-up, or go to the locker area.
Making the 90-mile trip to Mora along with her baby boy, Theo, Mary Carlson knows how stressful breast-feeding can be, especially for new moms.
“I felt like I needed to drive down from Duluth to support her,” Carlson said. “The first time he started to cry in public, I freaked out and said, ‘What do I do?’ And then I covered him up and he would not stay covered. He wouldn’t latch, he would scream louder. It’s uncomfortable.”
Carlson felt the need to sit in solidarity, alongside Buchanan and Davis, who claim they were shamed for doing something normal, natural and legal.
“It’s really emotional, it’s amazing,” Buchanan said. “We are really really thankful for all the support that we received.”
On Wednesday, the two women were breast-feeding their babies in the kiddie section of the pool. First, a guest asked them to cover up. Then, a staff member asked if they could be more discreet or breast feed in the locker area. The women refused, but eventually left when a police officer was called to the pool.
The two women tell WCCO-TV they are filing discrimination lawsuit with the Department of Human Rights. State law allows women to breast-fed their children anywhere in public or private.
“People have no problem seeing puppies feed from their mama, and it’s so cute, but then the minute a mom starts to breast-feed some people say it makes them comfortable. They don’t like it, they have a certain set of expectations about how her mother should breast-feed,” Davis said.
The women say Saturday’s “Nurse In” is not an attack on the pool, its staff or the police. Rather, they hope this small demonstration will help normalize breast-feeding and bring about awareness and understanding.
WCCO-TV reached out to city officials in Mora Saturday. The city administrator said Mora has always supported breast-feeding mothers, and that staff at the pool received dozens of complaints about the breast-feeding mothers.
They plan on evaluating all of their polices along with the city council, and will continue to educate their staff.