Why This Breastfeeding Mom Was Asked to Leave a YMCA Locker Room
Last week, Tiffany Hoag was breastfeeding her 8-week-old son in an Oklahoma City YMCA locker room when a staff member forced her and another nursing mom to relocate, People reports.
“I went to the women’s locker room and changed him, then he started to get a bit fussy, so I started to nurse him,” Hoag told KFOR, a local news station. “The next thing you know, she’s escorting this lady out of the locker room, and then she comes back for me and says, ‘You can’t be in here, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.’”
The staff member escorted both women to the family locker room, which Hoag said was messy and lacking in space. “It’s dirty, towels on the floor…it’s a toilet, a shower, a seat, and a sink,” she said.
This was Hoag’s first time nursing in public, and she told KFOR that she’s afraid to do it again after this incident. “I was really embarrassed and upset because people were looking, and he was crying because he was still hungry.”
“I’m honestly humiliated, I don’t want to go back to that Y ever again, it’s really discouraging,” she said.
The YMCA, to its credit, has apologized in a statement. They believe the staff member was misinformed of the gym’s policy, which allows breastfeeding anywhere in the facility.
“The Y is a place for families, and we support breastfeeding moms in our facilities. We believe this was likely an unfortunate mistake with our staff member misinterpreting our locker room policy, which states that children are not allowed in adult locker rooms," reads the statement obtained by KFOR. "We are looking into this particular incident further with the staff members involved in an effort to ensure that no other moms have this happen in the future. We are very sorry that this new mom had a negative experience and will continue to train our staff to understand that moms can breastfeed anywhere they would like to do so in our facilities.”
Women are allowed to to nurse in public in 46 states and the District of Columbia, including Hoag’s home state of Oklahoma. But this incident, unfortunately, joins a growing list of stories in which moms were asked to move or cover up.