Even though you’ve only been here 8 months, I already know I would do anything for you. I will fight for you and I will always do what I think is best for you, but last night I was tested.
I’ve never been much for nursing in public. Don’t take that to mean that I’m opposed – that’s far from the truth. I just struggle with the mechanics of it. For me, it is just physically uncomfortable. Breastfeeding isn’t easy – at least it’s not for me. Unfortunately though, you HATE taking a bottle from me. (Of course from Dad, you have no issue!)
Last night we were at your second week of swimming lessons – which you LOVE, by the way! After the class ended, it was already past your bedtime and we still had a 25 minute drive home, AND you hadn’t really eaten much of anything in nearly 4.5 hours. Putting your needs ahead of my discomforts, I hopped out of the pool, wrapped you in a towel and found a quiet place on the pool deck to nurse you. Nope, I wasn’t comfortable on that wet wooden bench in my sopping swimsuit, but I wanted you to be content and happy for our trip home. That’s when it happened…
A lifeguard came up and asked me to “do that somewhere else.” Do what, where? I was so confused. Then it clicked – my breastfeeding was not acceptable on the pool deck. I was directed to the locker room (which was tiny and FULL of 15 moms and 15 kids all changing to go home) –OR– the “family room.” I use the quotes because the “family room” was nothing more than a large public bathroom. Gross. Wanting to avoid confrontation, I did as I was asked, the entire time I was annoyed at myself for not standing up for you (and me) right away.
You see, Hady, in Wisconsin women have the right to nurse anywhere at any time – without question. No one can ask us to go “somewhere else,” cover up or stop. If they do, they can be fined up to $200! We live in a GREAT STATE. Unfortunately, I was so befuddled by her request that I couldn’t get the words out. I just…complied. Ugh.
As we sat in the glorified bathroom, you were constantly distracted and didn’t eat well so I packed it in and headed to the crowded locker room to change for the ride home. Sharing what happened with our friends, the other moms, even total strangers, were as shocked as I was. Their reactions gave me the confidence I needed to take action.
We got home, you ate dinner, took a bath and went to bed. I, on the other hand, took to Google. I gathered my facts, wrote a respectful email to the pool director that ended with, “I plan to feed my daughter next week after class, on the pool deck, so hopefully this confrontation can be avoided.”
You know what happened? They were apologetic and helpful, offering to speak with the staff. I couldn’t have been more pleased at how simple that was. You see, babe, if you want something you have to ask for it. I hope you never lack the courage you need to stand up for what you know is right. No matter what…I have your back.
My email, in case you need an example for your own situation:
To whom it may concern-
I wanted to send me compliments on the swimming lessons offered at [TOWN]. My daughter is only 8 months old and after just 2 sessions, I feel like she’s grown so much – thank you to your instructors!
On another note, I had a bit of a disappointment after tonight’s class. I got out of the pool, and with a long drive back home, I thought it would be best if I fed my daughter before we left. The locker room was so busy with moms and kids, I figured I would just sit on the pool deck and feed her. One of your lifeguards must have been offended or bothered because she basically told me I had to “do that somewhere else.” I was so caught off-guard.
I don’t want to cause a stink about it, but there are laws in WI that protect women for doing just what I was doing. I hope you will speak with your staff and educate them about the laws regarding breastfeeding in public. I’ve included the verbiage here, for you. I plan to feed my daughter next week after class, on the pool deck, so hopefully this confrontation can be avoided.
“Right to breast-feed. A mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breast-feeding her child, direct a mother to move to another location to breast-feed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breast-feeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breast-feeding. A person who interferes with that right is subject to forfeiture not to exceed $200 under the general penalty provision under current law.”
Thanks in advance,
[PHONE & EMAIL]