Mum left 'upset and appalled' after water park employee told her to stop breastfeeding in pool
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Featured Image Credit: Instagram/rigbyswaterworld / Facebook/Tiffany Francis
A mum has said she was left 'appalled' and 'in tears' after a lifeguard at a waterpark in the US told her to stop breastfeeding in the pool.
Mum Tiffany Francis, from Georgia, has a season pass with her family to Rigby's Water World, and has made a habit while there of using the park's lazy river to help nurse her 11-month-old son to sleep.
On one recent visit, Tiffany breastfed her son in one of the pools with no concerns, telling Today that no one 'batted an eye', but that changed later in the day when she went to feed him again in the lazy river.
After her son began feeding, Tiffany claims a lifeguard told her she 'can't breastfeed in the lazy river'.
The mum initially thought he was joking, but when another staff member came to back up the lifeguard's claim, Tiffany asked to see where it was written as a rule.
"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. Of course there was nothing stating anything about children, except for babies needed to wear swim diapers (which he was)," Tiffany wrote on Facebook.
Tiffany asked to speak to the manager, Steve Brown, who allegedly told her the rule was 'as a courtesy to other people'. He said no food or drinks were allowed in the water, so Tiffany decided to ask for a refund on her season pass, which was denied.
Needing to put her son to sleep, Tiffany left the park 'crying' because she'd been told she 'couldn't feed [her] child'.
She continued: "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...
"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."
Breastfeeding in public or private places is allowed in Georgia, and to back up her point the mum cited state law which 'allows a mother to breastfeed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be'.
After Tiffany left the park, manager Steve Brown told Today that Rigby's had revised its breastfeeding policy and that staff have been re-educated about the law.
"We had a policy in place that didn't allow breastfeeding in the river that was in line with the health department's standard on no eating or drinking in the pools," he said, noting that breastfeeding has always been permitted in other areas of the park.
Georgia Department of Public Health's rules and regulations for recreational water parks state: "Bathers shall not be allowed to eat or drink while in or partially in the water."
Brown continued: "When I was made aware of the law that mothers can breastfeed anywhere they're allowed to be, we reviewed our policy, reaching out to other experts who operate aquatic facilities. From there, we decided to allow our guests to breastfeed in the pools, should they choose."
Brown said there was a 'misunderstanding' of the health code, and that he has since called Tiffany to apologise for the incident.
The mum won't receive a refund for her season pass because she is still 'more than welcome' at the park, though Tiffany said she can't imagine going back.
"I don't know what they expected — for me to lay down while they broke the law?" Tiffany told Today. "Especially for something that moms are shamed for all the time."
Tyla has contacted Rigby's Water World for further comment.