Cincinnati public pools are adding a new policy about breastfeeding after a Northside mom said a lifeguard asked her to leave while she breastfed her 3-month-old son.
It was a 90-degree day, so Cimarra Pierman decided to bring her young son to the McKie Community Center pool. She said she was breastfeeding the boy when a lifeguard approached her and asked her to leave.
"Then all of a sudden, that's when it became a spectacle, like 'Why are you feeding your child?'" she said.
Pierman told the lifeguard that she was allowed by Ohio law to breastfeed, but the lifeguard said she was breaking pool rules.
"It's 90 degrees outside," she said. "This is the only way he gets any nutrition, any liquid all day."
Pierman said the lifeguard called a manager and discovered he was wrong about the policy, but it was too late. She had already packed up her things to leave.
"It shouldn't be that way, and that's the problem," Pierman said.
So what does the law say? Anywhere in the Tri-State -- Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana -- it says the same thing: if you're in a public place, you can breastfeed whenever and wherever you want. The Ohio law even specifies that includes "any inn, restaurant, eating house, barbershop, public conveyance by air, land, or water, theater, store, other place for the sale of merchandise, or any other place of public accommodation or amusement of which the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges are available to the public."
The Cincinnati Recreation Commission said they follow Ohio law and the situation with Pierman was a misunderstanding. It may also be a lack of education. Their handbook doesn't address breastfeeding, and the CRC said they haven't trained employees about the law because a situation hasn't come up until now.
"I definitely feel like they should be getting trained on it," Pierman said. "I mean, the guy was very confident, and when I told him it was a law even, he didn't believe me."
The CRC said they plan to add a policy to their handbook that addresses breastfeeding. The policy will reflect state law.
For Pierman, it's all about education so other moms don't go through the same thing.
"I don't see why it should be a problem for us to feed our children," she said.
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