A mother in Colorado was reportedly harassed at a local YMCA after she began breast-feeding her son.
Stevie Hartmann-Romero, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was at the YMCA’s pool with her 18-month-old son when he began crying to be fed (video below).
“I went to a bench farther down the way where no one really was and I started to breast-feed him and about 10 minutes passed by and a lifeguard approached me,” Hartmann-Romero said. The lifeguard reportedly asked her to either cover up or move into the locker room, and she refused. The employee then brought a supervisor, who again told Hartmann-Romero to cover up or move.
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“She would not leave me alone. She continued to ask me to cover up and think about my surroundings and everything,” Hartmann-Romero said. The mother continued to nurse her son, later explaining that she hoped her refusal to stop would teach the employees a lesson.
According to a Colorado law, she was within her rights to breast-feed her son publicly.
“Breast-feeding mothers have rights and they are dealing with a lot. Even a small comment to cover up is a big deal,” she said. “It's very personal.”
Carrie Bair-Norwood, the YMCA’s vice president of marketing and development, responded to the incident, calling it a learning experience for the staff.
“This is the first time we have experienced a mother that chose not to cover up and so our staff were unclear on how to handle the situation,” Bair-Norwood said. “We hope our staff will learn from this. We have learned organizationally from this.” Since the incident, Hartmann-Romero said the YMCA has been excellent in its communication with her.
“I just think that people get weirded out like, 'Oh my gosh it's out there. What if the baby moves and I see something?’” she said. “I think it's this mindset that freaks people out. It shouldn't be. Nursing babies cover up a lot more than swimsuits do.”
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