Mom felt ‘horrible’ after being told not to breastfeed at YMCA pool

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 11:41 AM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A mother of four was told she could not breastfeed her three-week-old baby at a YMCA pool, despite the organization not having a policy against it.

Vanessa Marcum took her kids to the Greater Miami Valley YMCA pool on Tuesday to get some relief from the sweltering heat.

While at the pool, Marcum’s three-week-old, Talia, became hungry.

Marcum began to breastfeed Talia while staying close to keep an eye on her three other kids swimming.

She says shortly after, a lifeguard approached her saying breastfeeding was not allowed at the pool.

“She said, ‘ma’am, you can’t do that here,’” Marcum recalls.

The lifeguard asked Marcum to move away from the pool which she says she did.

Since she had to move from the area, her other kids had to get out of the pool and come with her.

Marcum says baby Talia got hungry again about 20 minutes later.

This time, another mother came over, offering to watch Marcum’s kids so they would not have to get out of the pool while she breastfed Talia.

The lifeguards came over again, according to Marcum.

“Basically, she tried to get my boys to come out of the pool because I wasn’t with them, but this lady had offered to watch them,” Marcum said.

Marcum says that is when lifeguards addressed other issues with her breastfeeding without a cover.

“There are kids around, and they shouldn’t be exposed to something like that, and I should be more conservative is how the conversation ended,” Marcum described.

The Greater Miami Valley YMCA acknowledged the incident that happened.

There is no policy against breastfeeding at any YMCA, the organization tells FOX19 NOW.

Karen Staley, the Chief Operating Officer for the Greater Miami Valley YMCA, called Marcum Wednesday to tell her the staff would undergo training.

“They’re younger staff, so we both felt like being younger staff maybe they had just not experienced breastfeeding in general in public,” Staley said. “So, I’m just going to a sensitivity type training.”

Marcum hopes no mother will have to experience what she did in the future.

“Breastfeeding is a very natural thing, and it’s not something for a mother to be ashamed of,” Marcum said. “It’s not something that you should shame somebody for.”

In Ohio, there is a law allowing moms to breastfeed their children anywhere they are legally allowed to be.

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