City, Mother Hope to Turn “Breastfeeding Incident” into Learning Opportunity

A Sioux Falls mother claims she was "harassed" at an indoor city pool for breastfeeding her baby

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- A Sioux Falls mother claims she was “harassed” at an indoor city pool for breastfeeding her baby.

City officials say the incident that happened at the Midco Aquatic Center was a “misunderstanding.”

Both sides are now hoping to turn what happened into a teaching experience.

Amy Metzger took her five children to the Midco Aquatic Center Wednesday afternoon.

She had her five-month-old son Ronan with her, who she began to breastfeed while the other kids swam.

“I was told from two different lifeguards in about three minutes that I needed to cover myself with a towel,” she said.

Knowing South Dakota state law gives her the right to breast feed in public and knowing it was too warm and humid inside the facility to safely place a towel over her baby, Metzger did not cover up. Upset from her experience, she took her frustrations online.

“So I took to their [Facebook] page to just write a review to let other people know what’s going on.”

She was soon contacted by the City’s Parks and Recreation Director, Don Kearney, who apologized for the lifeguard’s actions.

“They thought that was the right thing to do at the time. But what we didn’t know was there was a law that says that you can do that. So they were trying to act and do what they thought was best. But ultimately, it gives us an opportunity to be able to educate our staff about the law that went into place,” he said.

Kearney says there was no ill-intent behind the request to cover up, and city officials will now use this incident as an opportunity to better educate their staff about the law.

“We want people to feel welcome in our parks system and I think generally people do. But again it’s just a misunderstanding and lack of information about what the law was,” said Kearney.

Metzger also hopes the incident will help ease the stigma of breastfeeding in public.

“I just want all moms to know that feel safe that they can nurse their babies and nurse their children in public and not be shamed for it, because that’s what it’s about, being able to take care of your kids,” said Metzger.

The South Dakota State Legislature passed a law in 2015 that granted more freedoms to breastfeeding mothers.

It states cities do not have authority to ban breastfeeding in public places.

Metzger says in no way will the incident keep her or her family from visiting the indoor pool. She says both she and her family love the facility, and in the event little Ronan becomes hungry, she will breastfeed him there again.