Midco Aquatic Center
in Sioux Falls. A mother was breastfeeding her five-month-old baby at the indoor pool when a lifeguard asked her to cover up.
However, breastfeeding in public is a protected right under South Dakota law. We talked with the mother involved and the Sioux Falls Parks Department about what happened.
Amy Metzger was enjoying some time at the pool with her five kids when a lifeguard asked her to cover herself while breastfeeding her baby.
"I said, 'There's nobody here.' He said, 'For the comfort of other people.' I said, 'There's nobody here and I'm not going to cover my baby. It's too hot in here,'" Metzger said.
Metzger says a short while later another lifeguard approached her and told her to put a towel over the baby while he ate. She says this is the first time anyone has confronted her about her choice to breastfeed.
"I wasn't exposing myself more than what I was already just wearing a swimming suit. I was actually covered more since I was holding my own baby," Metzger said.
After this run-in, Metzger decided to take her frustrations to the Aquatic Center's Facebook page
. She got a lot of support from others, who pointed out the fact that in 2015 a new law was established in South Dakota to protect a mother's rights to breastfeed
wherever she likes.
"There are a lot of laws out there and we do our best to try and stay on top of them ,but it's an unfortunate situation," Parks director Don Kearney said.
Kearney says his department was unaware of this law until now. He believes it was a matter of a simple misunderstanding for his staff.
"I think they were probably just a little unsure, a little uncomfortable with the situation. We hire a lot of high school and college kids to work for us and I think they were doing what they thought was best, but again it's an opportunity for us to learn about the law," Kearney said.
Kearney did call and apologize to Metzger, who says she will still go back to the pool in the future.
What she really wants now is an understanding from others about the importance of breastfeeding rights.
"It's for the baby. We have children and if they're hungry, they need to eat just like everybody else. It's our choice to breastfeed and we're going to do it. Regardless of what anybody, the comfort of other people. What about the comfort of our babies," Metzger said.
Kearney says he will be informing all parks staff about the breastfeeding laws to make sure this doesn't happen again.
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