An Illinois mother took to social media after she says she was asked to breastfeed her 14-month-old child in a restroom while at a public swimming pool.
Brei Theisen wrote earlier this month that she was at the Wood River Aquatic Center in a southwest Illinois town when a manager of the facility asked her to “cover up” because she was “offending other people.”
“My initial instinct was to be very rude but instead I said, ‘Do you tell the other people eating in the food area that they need cover up? Or am I supposed to starve my child because someone is uncomfortable with themselves or because they are sexualizing breastfeeding,’” she wrote. “I know everyone has a choice how to feed their child and I'm all for a fed baby is a happy baby, but do they tell someone who's bottle feeding to cover up or anything; no because it's normal....... but since I choose to not bottle feed I need to do it somewhere else?”
That’s when Theisen said she took the matter to the head manager at the facility.
“He proceeded to say people don’t have a problem changing their child’s diaper on the changing table so why can’t a [sic] feed my child there,” she wrote. “First of all I do not change my child in a nasty bathroom and would you eat where you pee and poop? I'm so unbelievably speechless about the whole situation and not only is it illegal to tell a breastfeeding mother to cover up or go to the bathroom but to tell me why can't I feed her by a toilet!”
Theisen’s post was shared more than 400 times.
According to local publication the Alton Daily News, the Wood River Park and Recreation Department said in a statement it “prides itself on being a family friendly environment” and regrets “any controversy that was caused by the occurrences.”
“The Aquatic Center does not discriminate against breast feeding mothers, and allows breast feeding mothers to nurse their children at our facility in accordance with the law,” the statement read. “Our manager and staff have been fully briefed on the law and will incorporate the law into our training for all employees immediately. We apologize to the mother and child for any inconvenience we may have caused them."
Theisen told TODAY Parents that she shared her experience on social media because she wanted breastfeeding moms to know they have a right to nurse their babies in public.
According to BreastfeedingLaw.com, under Illinois law, “breast-feeding of infants is not an act of public indecency.”
“A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding,” the law states.
"After it really sunk in, I felt like it shouldn't have happened and I was upset," Theisen told TODAY. "I felt like I did something wrong — but I didn't. It was my legal right to feed my child there just like I would anywhere else."