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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Breast-feeding dispute leads to ‘nurse-in’ at Spokane pool

A local mother staged a “nurse-in” for breast-feeding mothers at the Liberty pool Friday after she said an employee at the same pool asked her and her friends to go breast-feed in the bathroom earlier in the week.

Lydia Davis said she routinely breast-feeds in public, which is protected by state law.

“I feel like this is a huge issue and not just an issue with me,” she said. “People need to understand the laws.”

Davis said she doesn’t cover up with a blanket or anything else when she breast-feeds in public.

“I’m not ashamed of breast-feeding,” she said. “I don’t ever want anybody to be ashamed to feed their child if the child is hungry. We’re at a public pool where people have bikinis on. How is me breast-feeding any worse than people wandering around in a bikini?”

Davis said she called Spokane’s Parks and Recreation Department to complain while she was still at the Liberty Aquatic Center, 1300 E. Fifth Ave., and was pleased to get a quick response from Parks Director Leroy Eadie. She said Eadie apologized and promised to provide extra training for the department’s staff.

That training has since happened, said parks spokeswoman Monique Cotton.

“It was really important to us to provide the training right away,” Cotton said. “We do not have a specific policy about breast-feeding. What we do have is state law. We certainly recognize that people have the right to breast-feed at a public pool.”

Davis said about a dozen women and their children came to the nurse-in on Friday.

Lila McDermid learned about the event on Facebook and brought her children down. “I just never want to lose my right to feed my child anytime and anywhere I need to,” she said.

At one point McDermid casually breast-fed her young daughter as she talked. It was a lot different with her first child, she said. “I was ashamed and thought I needed to hide,” she said.

Now she feels more empowered and is willing to breast-feed in public without covering up.

“We’re doing what’s natural and appropriate for our children,” she said.

Society has sexualized women’s bodies so that breast-feeding is seen as sexual when it’s not, she said.

“That’s what boobs are for.”

Hailey Kocol said she’s trying to set an example for others. “By doing it we can show other women they can do it too,” she said.

Davis said she has been happy with the response by the Parks and Recreation Department after her complaint. During Friday’s event she tweeted them a public thank-you from her seat beside the Liberty Pool: “@Spokaneparks Thank you for the wonderful atmosphere. #publicbreastfeeding.”

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