Two Minnesota moms decided to take their family to a local aquatic center to cool off last week, but things ended up getting really heated.
Stephanie Ellingson-Buchanan was wading in Mora Aquatic Center's kiddie pool when her 3-month old son, Roman, got fussy. The mom told WCCO 4 News that she knew he was hungry, so she slipped down the strap of her one-piece swimsuit and fed him.
Another woman soon came up to her, told her she needed to cover up because her sons were swimming and left before the nursing mom could respond.
Though shocked by the request, Ellingson-Buchanan kept feeding her son. Her sister-in-law, Mary Davis, also breastfed her baby in the wading area. Actually, there were multiple people nursing their babies, according to a Facebook post Ellingson-Buchanan wrote that day, on July 18, after the incident.
"I wasn't flashing them around, nobody saw any nipple, there were other moms there nursing their babies, and LOTS of other women showing more skin," she wrote.
Still, after the complaint, a staff member came up to them and asked them to cover up or go to the locker area. The two women refused, saying that Minnesota law protects moms who wish to breastfeed in public.
According to Minnesota Statute 145.905, "a mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast-feeding." (Related note: Breastfeeding in public is now finally legal in all 50 states. That took forever.)
Plus, the moms had six kids, including a niece and nephew, that they also had to watch over.
"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," Ellingson-Buchanan wrote. "It's absolutely disgusting and maddening that this is how this establishment treats moms!"
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.
The mom told CafeMom that the staff member said, "OK, I'll go tell my manager," and they thought that was the end of it.
But eventually, as they were getting the kids out of the pool, a police officer showed up.
Ellingson-Buchanan told CBS News that when she brought up Minnesota law again, the police officer said, "I understand, and I let the establishment know, but they reserve the right to ask you to leave."
So, the moms left, but they also filed discrimination claims against the city of Mora and Kanabec County, and inspired two nurse-ins, one of which happened just days later, on Saturday.
Dozens of moms, about 50 to 60 people in total and some driving as far as 90 miles, showed up at the pool to publicly breastfeed their children in protest. There has also been an outpouring of support online, applauding the moms for not backing down.
Mora city officials issued a statement saying that the city supported nursing mothers, but that the situation inside the kiddie pool made many patrons uncomfortable, adding that "neither woman was asked to leave."
"We apologize to Ms. Ellingson-Buchanan and Ms. Davis if they were offended by how they were treated. Although we cannot anticipate all possible scenarios, City policies and procedures will be reviewed and revised as deemed necessary," the statement read.
The second nurse-in is planned for August 11.