Mom asked by Ozark Community Center lifeguards to leave the pool area to breastfeed

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:08 PM CDT
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - A Willard mother’s Facebook post is going viral after she shared her experience of being asked to go breastfeed her baby in a changing room by staff at a community center.

Samantha Mahan took her three-year-old and three-month-old to the Ozark Community Center pool Friday.

She says this was not her first time at the pool, and she even had an account. She was breastfeeding her infant when two lifeguards approached her.

“She was like, “Hey, you need to go in there to do that,” Mahan says.

The “that” was breastfeeding, and the “there” she was being asked to go to was the changing room.

“I was very shocked that somebody would even say that to me or treat me that way for feeding my baby,” Mahan says. “She said yeah, there’s something children here. We can’t have you doing that.”

She said a male lifeguard trailed close behind her.

“The way he looked at me just made me feel awful, honestly,” Mahan says. “That’s really sad that moms should feel awful for feeding their babies. It’s something very natural and shouldn’t be shamed at all.”

So Mahan left and posted her experience on Facebook. She also posted a review on the Ozark Community Center Facebook page. Staff responded.

“We are so sorry for your bad experience. We have made sure all employees are aware of our support of breastfeeding mothers in our facility.”

In Missouri, a woman is legally allowed to breastfeed anywhere she’s legally allowed to be.

“Being a mom is already hard enough without having to fear that anytime you go in public and feed your baby that you’re going to be harassed,” Kaylen King, owner of Flourish Family Doulas and a lactation consultant, says.

Her advice is if you see someone breastfeeding and it makes you uncomfortable, just look away.

Ozark Community Center said they were dealing with the employees, who are minors, internally. They told KY3 by phone that they support breastfeeding moms.

Since that conversation, Mayhan says she received a call and an apology from the center. But she wants one thing more.

“I would actually like an apology from the lifeguards themselves that treated me that way,” Mahan says. “I’m sorry I was wrong. And a little more evidence that they actually said something to the employees.”

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