Breastfeeding mom upset by bathroom nursing area

CURRITUCK COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) – For a nursing mom, finding a designated nursing area is great. But CeCe Jarvis found one at the Currituck Family YMCA that wasn’t all that sanitary.

Jarvis took her older daughter to swim lessons Tuesday and said she was excited to see a nursing area sign.

“Then my daughter opened the door, and it was a bathroom with the chair next to the potty, and it was a folding chair,” she said.

Jarvis nursed her older daughter, Evie, in bathrooms. She refuses to do that this time around with six-month-old Danie.

“I was shocked and kind of disgusted by it,” she said. “It got to the point where we started getting worked up about it and started getting more and more angry.”

Jarvis’s photo of the nursing area made its way to WAVY’s Facebook page. 10 On Your Side asked a breastfeeding advocate with Eastern Virginia Medical School where the YMCA went wrong.

“They did provide a chair and they did provide a room with a door that locked,” said Amy Paulson, an insructor with the Consortium for Infant and Child Health (CINCH). “Where they got it wrong was, there’s a toilet in there, and the chair is beside the toilet.”

A spokesperson for the YMCA said staffers set up a new, temporary nursing area in an executive office. They also called Paulson to do a walk-through and help them set up a permanent, more comfortable nursing area.

“It is our goal to provide a safe and comfortable area for mothers to breast feed,” said a post from the Currituck Family YMCA’s Facebook account. “We agree this was not the best solution. We hear your concerns and have made the appropriate changes.”

Jarvis believes public pressure helped the YMCA act quickly, and says she’s happy mothers who wish to nurse in private will now have a comfortable space. Both Paulson and Jarvis hope the attention brought on by the photo will help other businesses learn from the YMCA’s mistake.

Paulson has worked with the YMCA in Virginia to create nursing areas and an environment friendly to breastfeeding moms, and says this was likely a matter of staffers in North Carolina not getting that same education.

“I think it could be looked at very negatively, and I don’t want to happen. The reaction is sometimes, ‘I don’t want to get in the news for having done it wrong, so I’m not going to do it at all,’” Paulson said. “The real story is, we need more nursing rooms, we need more appropriate spaces. Let’s applaud the places that are making an attempt.”

Businesses interested in learning more about creating a breastfeeding-friendly environment can contact Paulson and CINCH via email at cinch@evms.edu or 757-668-6426.

You can also look at this brochure to tips: http://www.cinchcoalition.org/file/BUSINESS%20PACKET%20FINAL.pdf

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