The People's Tribune

Vandalia Pool Crew Has Training Following Incident With Breastfeeding Mother

Workers at the Vandalia city pool had training this week after an incident with a breastfeeding mother that occurred last week.

Alix Guthrie had her two young children at the pool, along with her mother and best friend. Guthrie said they were have a great time and that her two-year-old daughter was having a blast. At one point in the afternoon, Guthrie’s four-month-old son began to cry because he was hungry. Guthrie said she took her son to a quiet area to nurse him as her mother and friend stayed in the pool with her daughter.

“The manager came over and said she needed to talk to me,” Guthrie said. “She told me that some kids reported they were embarrassed by me nursing my son.”

Esther Robinson manages the pool and requested Guthrie to cover her son as she fed him or go to the bathroom or somewhere else.

“It was more than 90 degrees out that day. I asked if she wanted to eat under a blanket or in a bathroom,” Guthrie said. “I offered to speak to the kids and parents who were confused by what I was doing but she said that wouldn’t be necessary. She told me it was illegal for me to breastfeed in public like that.”

Guthrie said she was discreet and that no one could see anything from where she was sitting.

“I’m going to feed my son when he’s hungry.”

Guthrie added that she didn’t want to cause problems but wanted workers to get educated about breastfeeding.

“It’s normal and it’s healthy.”

Guthrie said she was pleased to hear that Leah Diffey of the Pike County Health Department visited the pool to explain the rights of breastfeeding mothers and explain how to accommodate nursing mothers.

City administrator Darren Berry said it has been the city’s policy to ask breastfeeding mothers to use more discretion.

“We didn’t shame the woman or upset her in any way,” he claimed.

Guthrie noted that she was very upset over the matter.

Berry said he was not aware the pool had a Facebook page until last week when Guthrie’s post of the incident was shared over 100 times and included tons of remarks.

“We got hit pretty hard on Facebook,” Berry said. But we’re not going to engage in an argument on Facebook. We had a lot of pre-teen boys freaking out that day.”

Berry said the incident could have been handled differently but that Robinson did what was asked of her.

“We have a really nice facility. I think it was just some miscommunication.”

He added that according to statements made by Robinson, she never told Guthrie that it was illegal to nurse in public. Guthrie noted she had an eyewitness to the discussion.

“We ended up getting some education and training and that will go a long way,” Berry said.

Guthrie said this is not the first time nursing mothers have been asked to cover up or go to the bathroom. She added that she would like to return to the pool, but that she will continue to feed her baby when he’s hungry.

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