YMCA Asks Breastfeeding Mother to Leave Play Area

I was shocked to hear somebody at that our local YMCA could be so ignorant as to really believe that children should not be exposed to breastfeeding. But Maura was really asked to leave and nurse in the locker room last week. We need to DO SOMETHING! For our kids! Here is Maura’s story.

Angry doesn’t cut it. Livid is almost there but I can’t explain it. I am shaking, literally physically shaking at the thought of what just happened to me. At the injustice. Not so much to me, because I can handle it. I am an advocate for my children and I will speak out. But for everyone else.

When a woman is told she cannot nurse her baby it is such a violation. An atrocity. What? I can’t feed and comfort my own baby? The child my body made, delivered, and continues to nourish? I am proud of all of that. Apparently some other people think it is something that shouldn’t be seen, it shameful, or gross. I think it’s gross when a fake breast is put in a baby’s mouth, but I’ve never heard of anyone being told they weren’t allowed to give their baby a bottle.

I was giving our local YMCA a try to see if my 2 girls, 14months and 3, would be able to play a little bit while I worked out. I wanted to introduce them gradually as they are not used to being away from mommy so I wanted to help them get comfortable in their environment. “What better way to comfort and soothe an anxious baby than to nurse her?” I thought. As I began to get into position with my baby in my lap on the floor where I had been playing with her, an employee immediately approached me and said, “Are you going to feed your baby there?” I said yes with a puzzled look, I’ve really never questioned or been questioned about where I can nurse my child.

“You can’t do that here. You need to go to the locker room. There are other children here and they should not have to see that. There are windows that people could be looking in and watching you too, we can’t have that here.”

Wait. What???? What did you just say to me? Did you really say that?

I grabbed my children up out of that room as quickly as I possibly can. You don’t want other children exposed to breastfeeding? I don’t want my children exposed to people who think breastfeeding isn’t a normal, natural, wonderful thing to do. And those other children? If they haven’t been exposed to it already, it’s really about time they were. We are mammals after all. Mammary glands are what sets us apart from the other animal kingdoms. I say let’s just go ahead and embrace that.

Of course with my ranting on the way out, administrators assured me that it is not the official stance of the YMCA to not allow woman to nurse their babies. She told me it was my right as a mother. Oh, I know, and I will stand up for my rights. But what if I weren’t me? What if I were a new, first time mother to a 6 week old baby? Would that incident, while I tried to nurse my newborn, so embarrassed about being told to leave, hid in the locker room, then quit nursing a week later because it became too hard to hide all the time? This is why these injustices need to be called out. It is for the women who can’t or won’t speak up.

All said and done, official stance of the YMCA or not, I feel that my rights were violated, and I, for one, will never be stepping foot in an establishment that employs people with that attitude again.

Christian with his friend Kyla. Maura was nursing Kyla's younger sister, Malia. Pic by Corrina Murdy

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