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Two Mothers Taking Legal Action After They Were Kicked Out Of A Public Pool For Breastfeeding

'It's absolutely disgusting'

A woman who was asked to stop breastfeeding her three-month-old son while swimming with her family at the Mora Aquatic Centre, Minnesota says she is planning to take legal action for discrimination. 

Stephanie Ellingson-Buchanan and her sister-in-law Mary Davis took their six kids to the local pool for a swim last week, and when her youngest son Roman required a feed, the mum had little choice but to feed him there.

“There’s not really a choice sometimes,” Ellingson-Buchanan told WCCO-TV. “So, I was wearing a one-piece swimsuit, slipped my strap down and just fed him.”

As any mum will know, when a baby needs to feed, it needs to feed, and with other children to watch, you do what you have to do.

Ellingson-Buchanan says she was initially approached by a woman who asked her to cover up, before staff got involved.

“A patron came up, a lady, at the pool, and told me that I needed to cover up because her sons were swimming,” she said, before staff then asked the women to cover up or go to the locker room.

“The reason I didn’t get out of the pool to breastfeed is my kids,” Davis said, who had also breastfeed in the pool earlier. “I’ve got to watch my kids.”

According to Minnesota state law women are allowed to breastfeed “in any location, public or private,” and “irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered.”

Staff then reportedly called police, and the two mothers eventually packed up their children and left.

“I wasn’t flashing them around, nobody saw any nipple, there were other mums there nursing their babies, and LOTS of other women showing more skin than me but because one woman saw me and complained, this establishment called the police,” Buchanan wrote on Facebook after the incident on Wednesday.

“I am in complete awe over how I as a mother was treated here, I don’t expect any grown adult to go eat in the locker room and I’m not going to remove the other children I have with me to go sit in the locker room also while I feed my baby, it’s absolutely disgusting and maddening that this is how this establishment treats moms!!!”

The mums organised a nurse-in with several dozen others to protest their treatment at the pool, and Ellingson-Buchanan says she plans to launch legal action against the aquatic centre for discrimination.

“We just don’t want any other mum to feel that she needs to cover up,” she said. 

The City of Mora, who run the aquatic centre, have released a statement responding to the incident.

“The City of Mora and Mora Aquatic Centre (MAC) strive to create an environment comfortable for all,” they said. “While we always have supported nursing mothers, the situation inside of the kiddy pool made many patrons uncomfortable.

“Our staff politely asked them to be more discrete or relocate to another area at the MAC. 

“When they did not, it created an untenable situation and our public safety team was brought in to assist the MAC staff.

“Neither women were asked to leave.” 

The statement then apologised to both mums “if they were offended by how they were treated”.

“Although we cannot anticipate all scenarios, City policies and procedures will be reviewed and revised as deemed necessary.”

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