An Alabama mother is up in arms after she was told she couldn’t breastfeed her child in a water park.
Emily Jackson was in the lazy river of the Point Mallard Water Park in Decatur, Alabama, with her 2-year-old, 9-month-old and her mother when the incident occurred on Wednesday. Her 9-month-old had reportedly gotten hungry and she decided to start nursing the child, LiftBump reports.
However, an employee soon noticed the act and allegedly told her to stop.
“Ma’am,” a park employee called out, according to Jackson. “You can’t breastfeed in here.”
Though she informed the employee that she was well within her right to breastfeed her child as according to Alabama law, he told her that she would have to nurse her child in a private place.
According to Alabama law, "A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present."
“We went back and forth for three minutes,” Jackson told AL.com. “Saying the same thing.”
The employee told her that she could sit in a chair near the water and nurse her child so as long as she covered up.
“It’s 95 degrees outside,” she said. “I’m not going to cover up my child with a blanket.”
Her family has season passes to the water park and have frequented the park in the past. She says that she has nursed her child in the park before and it hasn’t been an issue until now.
Jackson told AL.com that she became embarrassed as the conversation moved into the middle of crowds.
“I was completely off-guard and embarrassed, because [onlookers] were just staring at us,” Jackson said. “I had seen many other mothers nursing that day [at the park] and hadn't thought anything of it."
The employee eventually told her that her nursing her baby was a safety concern as the child could fall into the water.
"I had both hands underneath him," she said. "He wasn't going anywhere."
According to her, she had seen several mothers holding their sleeping babies in the lazy river.
Eventually, Jackson and her family decided to leave in the wake of the controversy.
Jackson later took to social media to voice her concerns, posting about the incident on the Huntsville Mommy Milk Meetup group on Facebook. The group is dedicated to supporting mothers who are breastfeeding.
Soon she heard from several supporters and mothers who had been in the same place as her.
“I was blown away,” Jackson said. “It felt nice to have other breastfeeding mothers backing me up. It’s nice to have that support.”
She later spoke to the manager of the water park and was informed that breast milk was a “bodily fluid,” and therefore not allowed in the pool, as it is a health risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC doesn’t know of any risk posed by breastfeeding in a pool, though parents should be wary as the child could swallow the water.
Point Mallard later released a statement reading: "Point Mallard Park supports breastfeeding as a natural part of motherhood and permits breastfeeding according to established state and federal guidelines. Any miscommunication that occurred based on the incident taking place June 10, 2015 has been resolved.
“Point Mallard officials will train and educate park staff on rules regarding breastfeeding," the statement added. "We look forward to serving our community and visitors for many years to come and appreciate the understanding of the parties involved."
Jackson told reporters that she had been planning on returning to the water park next week. However, after the incident, they might just not.
"I've been nursing ever since my older son was born and he's 2-and-a-half," Jackson said. "I've never been stared at, never gotten any bad comments until yesterday."