Mom of two Misty Daugereaux was breastfeeding her 10-month-old, Maxx, at a swimming pool earlier this month when, astonishingly, pool staff reportedly told her she could not be breastfeeding in public.
According to the Washington Post, Daugereaux and the pool staff had an “emotional exchange” and the police were called. Daugereaux was at the pool with her 4-year-old son and 4-year-old nephew, and as they were escorted out of the pool one of the little boys asked her, “Mama, why won’t they let you feed Maxx?”
We have the same question as that preschooler. This is not okay, because (as we’ve said before) American mothers “have the right to breastfeed your baby wherever and whenever your baby is hungry,” according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health.
That includes swimming pools, malls, restaurants and wherever a mom and baby happen to be. Literally, every single state now has laws protecting a mom’s right to breastfeed in public, because public health experts want to encourage, not discourage moms from breastfeeding if it’s right for them.
Breastfeeding has a lot of benefits, which is why, according to the CDC, 63.74% of Americans believe women should have the right to breastfeed in public places, and 57.75% say they are “comfortable when mothers breastfeed their babies near me in a public place.”
Those numbers should be higher. Everyone should be fine with babies eating however they eat, and lifeguards, security guards, police officers and everyone else needs to understand that they don’t have any authority over where women feed their babies.
In Texas, the law states, “A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.” It doesn’t mention anything about needing covers or blankets, but that didn’t stop a police officer from saying to someone (looks like pool staff) “You can’t just have your titties out everywhere. I mean I get that you got to feed your kid, that’s all fine and dandy, but go sit under a blanket or something,” as is seen in the body cam video from that day.
Some moms like to have nursing covers, but some moms (or babies) don’t like to use them (it can get hot under a blanket, and it was a hot day in Texas). And if you’re playing with your kids in the water, you might not have a cover handy when the baby gets hungry. It’s time for the whole country to get on board and understand the rules, because right now moms have police officers saying one thing and the CDC telling them something different.
The CDC says right on its website, “the law protects your right to feed your baby any place you need to. You do not to respond to anyone who criticizes you for breastfeeding.”
But many women feel like they do need to respond, and in Daugereaux’s case at least she’s got a lot of backup in her response. Moms in her community have been standing up for her, holding a nurse-in protest outside at the pool.
Babies get hungry everywhere. Mamas have to breastfeed everywhere. It’s time for everyone to understand that.
This story was originally published June 13, 2019