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07th Apr 2024

Mum left ‘upset and appalled’ after water park staff told her to stop breastfeeding baby in lazy river

Ryan Price

Staff at the park said they were worried about breastmilk “getting into the water”.

A mother who was told to stop breastfeeding her baby in the lazy river at a water park has taken to Facebook to claim that she was discriminated against.

Tiffany Francis was at Rigby’s Water World in Georgia, USA when she decided to try and soothe her 11-month-old baby to sleep by taking him into the lazy river, believing that the slow-moving water would help calm him.

Tiffany said it wasn’t the first time she tried the hack and that her newly-born son likes having “motion to sleep”.

In a lengthy post on Facebook, the new mum wrote: “I have never in my years of being a breastfeeding mother had one single negative comment made to me about breastfeeding while out in public… I’ve had supportive comments from random people, but today was a different day.

She continued: “I went to Rigby’s Water World today with my family. My son is 11 months old and when it was getting to be his nap time, like I do every visit, I got in the lazy river to nurse him to sleep. He likes motion to sleep, he sleeps well in the car or swing, so he will also sleep in the lazy river. At home he always nurses to sleep. So he was latched and a lifeguard (Caleb) told me “ma’am you can’t breastfeed in the lazy river”.

“I kind of laughed because I thought he was just making a joke in very poor taste. Then he got on the radio and had a lady come and tell me I wasn’t allowed. I was trying to pull the baby off but when baby is latched, he’s latched. I asked her if it was posted somewhere and she told me that it was posted in the rules out front so I got out of the lazy river, and I went to read the rules.”

A conversation with the manager of the park ensued, and he explained to her that breastfeeding was equated with their ‘no food or drinks in the water’ rule, leaving Tiffany feeling wronged and embarrassed.

“Of course there was nothing stating anything about children, except for babies needed to wear swim diapers (which he was),” she wrote.

“So I asked at the entrance to speak to a manager about it to see where I could see that it was a rule and they sent me someone from guest services so after explaining the situation to her, she said she could get the water park manager. The manager Steve Brown came and told me it’s as a courtesy to other people that I can’t feed my son, so I asked it’s just a made up rule, because it’s not posted anywhere?

“It’s just something that they decided to say was a rule. So then he smartly said well it says no food or drinks in the water. I asked so my boobs aren’t allowed in the water?”

Tiffany, who is a season pass holder at the venue, then asked for a refund. “I asked to be refunded my season pass because I can’t go there if I can’t get my son to nap while I’m there and they of course told me no. So I left because my son needed to take a nap and I wasn’t allowed to nurse him to sleep.

“Imagine all the bodily fluids being excreted into the water but they’re worried about breastmilk when the baby was latched, my breast was out of the water, and the milk was only going into baby’s mouth. But really it wasn’t even about him eating in the water it was about it making other guests uncomfortable.

“I left crying, because I was told I couldn’t feed my child which by the way it is against the law to tell a mother they can’t breastfeed their child. But sure let’s worry about offending people by feeding a child.”

Tiffany then explained that she saw plenty of other mother’s holding their children in the pool, and other people wearing ‘offensive’ clothing, and as a result felt discriminated against for being a mother who breastfeeds her child.

“Also in the lazy river, I saw several other mothers with their kids asleep in their laps, the kids heads on their moms chests,” she pointed out.

“My situation looked just like theirs, my breast wasn’t exposed. My sons face was covering everything. So without looking extra hard you’d think he was just asleep on my chest. But somehow I made people uncomfortable by doing the most natural thing I could do for my child, while just trying to let him nap.

“Mind you, this was also at a water park where most people are wearing very little clothing but my son and I were offensive. I’m just so upset and appalled and wanted to give a heads up to all the other moms out there that this is how breastfeeding moms are treated at Rigby’s Water World. You’re also not allowed to bring snacks in for the baby, so I was told today. I guess they’d rather babies just go hungry.”

Tiffany then signed off her post by quoting an excerpt from the Georgia Code of Law on breastfeeding in public.

“The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which should be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health. A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.”

After the incident gained attention online, Steve Rigby, owner of the company, reached out to Tiffany to apologise.

However, she found them the apology to be insincere, feeling they were a reaction to the online backlash more than anything else, and thus did not accept.

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