Another Northern California mom harassed for nursing her baby
Northern California Pool Employees repeatedly harassed breastfeeding mother, Management Apologized
Posted on June 11, 2014
As summer is heating up, another breastfeeding mother was harassed for nourishing her child at a pool. This time in California at Patterson Aquatic Center.
Sarah Firestone shared her breastfeeding in public incident yesterday on Facebook. She gave me permission to share her story:
Well. It happened. A friend and I were at the Patterson pool with our kids and Lorelai got hungry. So instead of going to sit in the hundred degree weather, (all of the shady spots were taken) we went to the top step of the pool so at least her feet could be in the pool and I could splash water on her head.
Now when I nurse, I’m very inconspicuous about it. I don’t just ‘whip it out’ and I cover the top with my hand when there are kids around so you literally see nothing. (Even though I shouldn’t but I do keep in mind that there are a ton of people uneducated about the matter.) I figured with all of the girls walking around in bikinis that show WAY MORE than a breastfeeding mother, I’d be okay. Of course I got some stares and one lady was even taking pictures of me and I just smiled and gave her a thumbs up. (Whatever.)
But then, I noticed all of the lifeguards pointing and talking about me and staring. I brushed it off and continued feeding my child. I wasn’t breaking a law and I wasn’t submerged into the water which I’m guessing would be the only reason there’d be a problem with it, but that would only suffocate Lorelai sooooo when an employee came up and approached me, she said, ‘Ma’am, we aren’t trying to be rude but could you maybe cover–’ and I cut her off and said, ‘Before you continue, I’d like you to go and research the California Breastfeeding laws and then you can come back and try again.’ She continued with, ‘It isn’t us, it’s our boss. We just think for the comfort of others–’ and I said again, ‘I am showing less than that girl over there in her bikini. I don’t care about the ‘comfort’ of others when my child is hungry and I’m certainly not breaking a law.’ And she walked away. I finished feeding Lorelai and went into their little break room to ask to speak with their boss and he ended up personally apologizing to me when I explained how there were a ton of establishments getting sued for this very reason.
After the fact, a ton of people came up to me saying I did a good thing and that it’s natural and that the people who were staring and had problems with it should be the ones to leave. Even a couple of older men gave me a thumbs up! That just goes to show how society finds cleavage and tiny shorts more acceptable than an infant nursing. Pathetic!
Thank you for sharing you story, Sarah.
And this was a photo of exactly where and how she was breastfeeding, taken the day after the incident when she returned with her family for another day at the pool.
[Sarah Firestone's Photos of herself breastfeeding at Patterson pool 6.11.2014]
What is the law on breastfeeding in public in California?
What does the law say exactly? California Civil Code § 43.3 allows a mother to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, and makes no mention of breastfeeding covers.
So what happens with someone harasses a breastfeeding mother in California?
They violate California’s Civil Code section 51, the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Discrimination against a breastfeeding mother is considered sex discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and is protected and enforced by the law. Patterson Aquatic Center could be looking at a fine for their discrimination, if Sarah felt like pressing further with this.
What do babies eat? And when?
The norm for our species is this: Babies eat human breast milk from their mother’s breast on cue. It really is that simple. Babies do not eat at scheduled times and since breastfed babies process milk faster than formula fed infant, they need to eat more frequently. How long do babies breastfeed? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the about first six months of a baby’s life with no additional food or water or substitutes for the short and long term health of the baby and mother. The AAP, along with the World Health Organization and UNICEF, recommend breastfeeding for at least 12 months and then continuing breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. The WHO recommends breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.
Why is supporting breastfeeding mothers so important?
Breastfeeding provides a protective effect for the child against respiratory illnesses, ear infections, gastrointestinal diseases, and allergies including asthma, eczema and atopic dermatitis. The rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is reduced by over a third in breastfed babies, and there is a 15 percent to 30 percent reduction in adolescent and adult obesity in breastfed vs. non-breastfed infants. Not to mention the benefits for the mother. It is our basic human right to breastfeed and for our children to have their mother’s milk and comfort.
How can you help?
I hope this pool makes sure they train their staff in proper breastfeeding family handling to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Feel free to call or swing by the pool to respectfully let them know that you heard about the incident, that you support breastfeeding families, and would like them to ensure this type of mistreatment doesn’t happen again.
Patterson Aquatic Center
1025 W. Las Palmas, Patterson, CA 95363
Or contact the City of Patterson via email or phone (209) 895-8000
Have you ever breastfed at your pool? How were you treated?
Join the conversation on Facebook or comment below!
◾Search my archives for recent nursing in public incidents
◾I Was Harassed for Nursing in Public (NIP) what do I do? - Best for Babes
◾50 Reasons for Breastfeeding Anytime, Anywhere – PhD in Parenting
◾Breastfeeding Posters - Paa.la
◾Every argument against NIP debunked – Paa.la
◾Nursing with Discretion: What really matters - Paa.la
◾The Pope Supports Breastfeeding in Public – Paa.la
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9 thoughts on “Northern California Pool Employees repeatedly harassed breastfeeding mother, Management Apologized”
Becky on June 11, 2014 at 7:58 pm said:
What an amazing woman! Whoohoo!
Sandi on June 11, 2014 at 8:01 pm said:
Well done Sarah!
Chelsea on June 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm said:
My daughter nursed in a pool at about 6 weeks old and everyone was supportive. About two weeks ago we also nursed at a pool laying on a towel. I don’t think anyone even noticed!
Brittany W on June 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm said:
Tijana on June 11, 2014 at 8:04 pm said:
It’s great to see the mom standing up for herself and her baby (and for the rest of us).
Elizabeth S on June 11, 2014 at 8:05 pm said:
One lady tried to tell me to cover my 6 week old with a towel or leave. I told her she better get someone higher up than her to try to force me to leave. It was a life guard that was probably still in high school that thought she could make me leave because I was feeding my baby. All in all a park ranger came over and I said the Indiana law and she left me alone.
Chanel on June 11, 2014 at 8:06 pm said:
Yes, my daughter was born June 18, 2012 and we spent a lot of time at the local pools. I usually wore her wrapped; so people couldn’t see as much (not for covering up purposes!)
Shannon on June 11, 2014 at 8:06 pm said:
Kendra S on June 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm said:
I bf at pools & beaches all the time! I’m glad this momma knew her rights and didn’t let down. I’m glad the manager was able to learn a lesson.
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