She wrote, “I kind of laughed because I thought he was just making a very bad joke. Then a woman came and told me I wasn’t permitted on the radio after he got on. I was attempting to remove the baby, but once he latches, he latches.”
Francis claimed that the second worker repeated the no-breastfeeding policy, so she and Landon, and Olivia got out of the pool to look into it.
Of course, nothing regarding children was mentioned other than the fact that babies needed to wear swim diapers, which her son did. Francis claimed that when she asked to talk to a manager, the manager informed her, “No food or drinks in the water.”
“Imagine all the bodily fluids being excreted into the water but they’re worried about breast milk when the baby was latched, my breast was out of the water, and the milk was only going into the baby’s mouth,” she wrote. “However, it wasn’t even about him eating in the water; rather, it was about how it made other visitors feel.”
“This is how breastfeeding mothers are treated at Rigby’s Water World, and I just wanted to let all the other moms know because I’m so outraged and disturbed.”
Francis claimed that she requested a refund from Rigby’s for her $92.99 season pass but was turned down. She claimed that day, she cried as she left the facility.
Francis referred to Georgia law, which “allows a mother to breastfeed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.”
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that breastfeeding is legal in 50 states, including Georgia, and that 31 of those states do not include nursing in their definition of public indecency legislation.
“I was wearing a one-piece swimsuit, and my son’s head covered more of my breast than just my suit did,” she claims. “My top was pulled down enough for him to feed, but it revealed nothing.”
The mother stated that there wasn’t much of a place for her to breastfeed elsewhere because the park was so crowded that day.
Francis claims that two days later, Rigby’s Water World’s vice president of operations, Steve Brown, contacted to apologize.
Brown tells TODAY.com that Rigby’s changed their breastfeeding policy shortly after the incident and that staff members had received new legal education.
According to him, nursing has always been permitted in other parts of the park. “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 says.
The Georgia Department of Public Health’s guidelines for public swimming pools, spas, and recreational water parks state that “Bathers shall not be allowed to eat or drink while in or partially in the water.”
He claims that Francis was invited to breastfeed on the pool deck, ideally in the shade on a lounge chair, and that she was never asked to leave the water park; instead, she left on her own initiative.
“We reviewed our policy, reaching out to other experts who operate aquatic facilities,” he claims. “When I was made aware of the law that mothers can breastfeed anywhere they’re allowed to be,” he adds. From there, we made the decision to let visitors nurse if they so desired in the pools.
Brown claimed he apologized for the “misguided” policy by calling Francis.
We believed it to be a violation of the health code, he claims. There are diverse viewpoints on this matter, but we wish to abide by the law, thus it was a misunderstanding and my fault for misinterpreting the law.
According to Rigby’s policy, Brown confirms Francis won’t get her seasonal pass back.
“In this case, we didn’t tell (Francis) that she couldn’t come to the park or ask her to leave the park,” he claims. She is more than welcome to go back to the park and nurse anywhere she pleases, thus we have not given her a refund.
Francis claims she is unable to picture going back to Rigby’s.
“I don’t know what they expected—for me to lay down while they broke the law?” she asks. “Especially for something that mothers are constantly shamed for.”