If you are a breastfeeding mom and have gone swimming with your child, you know how easy it is to nurse her while you're enjoying your day. If you live in Warrensburg, Missouri, however, you're out of luck — the city parks department just declared that moms can no longer nurse their kids in or near any of their city pools. They state that it is a "concern for the general sanitation of the aquatic facilities." So Warrensburg moms, you have to pack up and leave the pool area every time your child needs to nurse. Mmmkay?
I am only assuming that they don't really understand that Missouri recently amended its state breastfeeding law. They say they do, but they really don't. It's been legal to nurse in public in Missouri for years, but now there are specific protections in place that weren't before — namely, moms cannot be arrested for indecent exposure, lewd touching or sexual conduct if they are breastfeeding in public.
It also includes the following notable change that directly applies here:
"A municipality shall not enact an ordinance prohibiting or restricting a mother from breast-feeding a child or expressing breast milk in a public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be." (Missouri HB 1320)
Oooh burn, Warrensburg Parks Board. Do you realize what you're doing? Not only are you setting yourself up for some nursing mama ire (a place you really don't want to go), but you're also breaking the law. I also reside in Missouri, and while I'm not close enough to Warrensburg for this to affect me, it still strikes a chord with me personally.
Rachelle Lesteshen, a Breastfeeding USA counselor and advocate, spoke with me about this nonsense. "This is a ridiculous policy that violates Missouri's state law allowing mothers to breastfeed anywhere," she tells me. "I also don't understand what the Parks Board considers unsanitary about a mother breastfeeding near a pool. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) doesn't consider breast milk a bodily fluid that needs special precautions. Being a mother is already hard. Society needs to get over its phobia of women's breasts and stop putting up these types of barriers."
Good luck, Warrensburg Parks Board. I have a feeling you're going to face a nurse-in and possibly a lawsuit or two.
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