Mothers bring attention to breast feeding rights at Kingsport Aquatic Center

Mothers bring attention to breast feeding rights at Kingsport Aquatic Center

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Mothers gathered in Kingsport on Friday in support of their right to breast feed in public places.

The "nurse-in" attracted more than 20 mothers to the Kingsport Aquatic Center.

We took a look at state law and found out women are allowed to breast feed in any public or private location they're authorized to be in and it's not considered indecent exposure or nudity.

It's the message the moms were trying to get across at the Aquatic Center as they lined the edge of the kiddie pool to nurse.

"We want you to feel safe nursing wherever you are, even if it is an uncomfortable situation," said Gratia Cash, who breast feeds her 11-month-old son.

She told us about two weeks ago she was nursing him on the lazy river at the Aquatic Center when a life guard asked her to stop. Cash said she was told it was a violation of a no food or drink in the pool rule.

The mothers at the rally told us breast milk shouldn't apply because it's a bodily fluid.

Cash also said mothers don't always have control over when they nurse.

"Breast fed babies, you typically can't schedule their nursing, so most breast fed babies are fed on demand from birth," said Cash.

Jilian Reece, the president of BABE Breast Feeding Coalition, was at the rally. BABE Breast Feeding Coalition is a group that supports nursing mothers.

"You can't yell at a mom for breast feeding, period. That's not acceptable and it's also illegal," said Reece, referencing the state law.

The Kingsport Aquatic Center acknowledged that right in a statement released Friday.

It read, in-part, "nursing mothers are welcome anywhere in the facility."

The statement also asked women to avoid nursing in the pool due to health and safety concerns. It references the no food or drink in the pool rule. We found out bottled milk is not permitted in the pool.

Here is their full statement from the Aquatic Center:

"The Kingsport Aquatic Center is a family-friendly facility and has been since opening in May 2013.

The staff at the Kingsport Aquatic Center recognized Tennessee state law allowing mothers the right to breastfeed their children in public. Nursing mothers are welcome anywhere in the facility. There is an air-conditioned private nursing area, if mothers choose to use it.

The Kingsport Aquatic Center has a no food or drink in the pools policy, both indoors and out. This is due to the health and safety of all patrons at the facility. Because of this we request nursing mothers not feed their babies in the pools.

Safety is our number one priority and we hope everyone who visits the Kingsport Aquatic Center has a safe and enjoyable visit."

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