A row over breastfeeding at a public pool led to a nurse-in at an aquatic center in Minnesota over the weekend. Women from as far as 90 miles away showed up to support a mom who was chided for breastfeeding in public.

Stephanie Buchanan was visiting the Mora Aquatic Center with her sister-in-law, Mary Davis, and several children under their care. Both women had their babies with them at the kiddie pool, and Buchanan at one point began nursing her 3-month-old son, Roman.

That was when she was approached by another pool guest and told she needed to cover up because the woman’s children could see her. The woman also complained to staff at the center and one of them came to her and asked that she either cover up or move to the locker room.

Buchanan refused to budge, continuing to feed her baby while watching the other children in her charge. In a show of solidarity, Davis also began breastfeeding her baby. However, there was a verbal disturbance between the two women and other moms at the pool.

According to Buchanan, things escalated from there when the aquatic center’s staff called the police to have the women removed. Once the officer arrived, Buchanan cited the law that allows moms to breastfeed in public but they decided to leave after feeling angry and embarrassed.

The county sheriff’s office maintains that they were to help defuse the situation but they believe what was at issue is whether anyone should nurse while in the pool. Sheriff Brian Smith had this to say:

“Breast-feeding at the Mora pool isn’t anything new. It’s been a normal thing for years. That’s what really makes this thing unusual. It’s usually done discreetly — not out in the middle of the kiddie pool with little kids playing in the water. I think that’s what was going on here.”

When Buchanan decided to vent her concerns on Facebook, it caught the attention of other moms, one of whom decided to launch a “nurse-in” at Mora Aquatic Center. The intention of the protest was not to shame the facility for what happened, but rather to encourage acceptance of breastfeeding moms in public.

The incident has divided some moms, with one group believing that breastfeeding should be done discreetly in public and others championing feedings anywhere rather than being relegated to a bathroom stall. Moms who showed up at the nurse-in were in full force, feeding their babies in a public area just outside the city pool.

To hear about breastfeeding laws in Minnesota and the views of the protesters, click on the video below from CBS 4 Minnesota. As for Buchanan, she plans on filing a discrimination suit against the city for what she feels is lack of fairness towards moms like her.

What are your thoughts on the kiddie pool incident? Does seeing a mom breastfeed in full view bother you? Would you attend a protest like this one?


Star Tribune