A woman who was asked to breastfeed discreetly by a manager at a public pool, wants moms in similar situations to know their legal rights.
On Thursday, Brei Theisen, a mother-of-one in Wood River, Ill., visited the Wood River Aquatic Center, a local pool where she swims every week.
When her 14-month-old daughter Ava got hungry, Theisen hopped out of the water to sit on the pool’s edge and nurse. “I breastfeed at this pool all the time with no problem,” Theisen, 23, tells Yahoo Beauty, adding that while she doesn’t have to use a nursing cover, per Illinois state law which allows women to breastfeed anywhere in public, she always ensures she’s not exposed.
After finishing up, Theisen and her baby walked over to the waterslide when she saw a lifeguard pointing in her direction. “Suddenly the manger approaches me and says, ‘I need you to be more discreet because you’re offending other people and I can’t allow that to happen,’” says Theisen.
“I told him, ‘I’m not going to cover my daughter’s head in 90-degree weather — should the people at the food court also cover up?’” says Theisen.
When Ava started fussing again, Theisen decided to leave the pool and nurse but first, she asked to speak to another higher-up, who she says pointed her to a dressing area in close proximity to the restroom. “He said, ‘You don’t have a problem changing your baby in a public bathroom but you have a problem feeding her there?’”
While a representative from the Wood River Aquatic Center tells Yahoo Beauty that the pool has “nothing to apologize for,” going forward, the staff will be trained in breastfeeding laws. However, the pool acknowledged its error in a statement to Fox2Now, a St. Louis local news station, which read:
“Our manager and staff have been fully briefed on the law and will incorporate the law into our training for all employees immediately. We apologize to the mother and child or any inconvenience we may have caused them.”
Theisen doesn’t plan on returning to the Wood River Aquatic Center but she wants other mothers to educate themselves on their rights. “After I had Ava, a friend told me, ‘Make sure you know the law about nursing in public,” she says. “So I want other people to know too.”
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