Georgia Mom Asked to Stop Breastfeeding Her Baby by Water Park Staff
Breastfeeding is difficult enough to start with, the last thing parents need is someone telling them where they can and cannot feed their babies. Unfortunately, the stigma around breastfeeding in public still looms large and for one Georgia Mom meant the difference between enjoying the rest of her summer day out and an upsetting trip home.
In a now viral Facebook post, mom of two, Tiffany Francis, shared her recent experience at her local water park. “I have never in my years of being a breastfeeding mother had one single negative comment made to me about breastfeeding while out in public … but today was a different day,” she wrote. “I went to Rigby’s Water World today with my family. My son is 11 months old and when it was getting to be his nap time, like I do every visit, I got in the lazy river to nurse him to sleep.”
But today would indeed be different. According to Francis, in the middle of her relaxing trip around the river a lifeguard approached her and told her she couldn’t breastfeed in the lazy river as it was against the rules.
“I kind of laughed because I thought he was just making a joke in very poor taste,” she wrote. “Then he got on the radio and had a lady come and tell me I wasn’t allowed. I was trying to pull the baby off but when baby is latched, he’s latched.”
In response, Francis said she got out of the pull to read the posted rules but noted that there were none regarding children outside of “babies must wear a swim diaper,” which her son was. She then asked to speak to a manager who told her “as a courtesy to other people” she couldn’t breastfeed in the lazy river as there were “no food or drinks in the water.”
After a teary discussion Francis left in an upset. “Imagine all the bodily fluids being excreted into the water but they’re worried about breastmilk when the baby was latched, my breast was out of the water, and the milk was only going into baby’s mouth,” she said.
“But really it wasn’t even about him eating in the water it was about it making other guests uncomfortable. ‘As a courtesy to our other guests.’ I left crying, because I was told I couldn’t feed my child which by the way it is against the law to tell a mother they can’t breastfeed their child. But sure let’s worry about offending people by feeding a child,” she added.
Francis noted that she was not permitted a refund on her season pass from Rigby’s and "wanted to give a heads up to all the other moms out there that this is how breastfeeding moms are treated at Rigby’s Water World.” She ended her post by citing Georgia law which “allows a mother to breastfeed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.” Protections that are given to mothers in all 50 states.
In response to her post, Francis says Rigby’s Water World’s vice president of operations, Steve Brown, called her two days later to apologize. In a comment to Today Brown said that Rigby’s had revised its breastfeeding policy within hours of the incident, adding that staff has been re-educated about the law.
“When I was made aware of the law that mothers can breastfeed anywhere they’re allowed to be, we reviewed our policy, reaching out to other experts who operate aquatic facilities,” he says. “From there, we decided to allow our guests to breastfeed in the pools, should they choose. We were under the impression it was a health code violation. It was a misunderstanding … it was my mistake to misinterpret the law …. there are different opinions on this issue but we want to comply with the law.”
Learn more about your protections under the law and tips for breastfeeding in public.
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