A recent incident in Chillicothe now has the park district asking: just what are the state’s rules for breastfeeding in or near a public pool?
On Tuesday, a woman was breastfeeding her daughter while dipping her feet in the water at Shore Acres Pool. An employee asked her to cover up or go somewhere else. The woman claimed this broke the law.
Chillicothe Park District Executive Director Kevin Yates said mothers are allowed to breastfeed at all of their facilities. But he said there’s a discrepancy in Illinois law when it comes to nursing near a pool.
The Illinois Right to Breastfeed Act allows mothers to nurse in any public place, with or without her nipple exposed. However, the Illinois Patron Pool Code prohibits food and drink at most places in a swimming facility.
“We want to honor and respect all the mothers that visit our facility and choose to breastfeed, but at the same time, we’re awaiting some answers from the Department of Public Health on how to handle a situation when they are near or in our waters," he said.
Yates also mentioned a recent warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on an increase of outbreak of Cryptosporidium from 2009 through 2017. Pools and water playgrounds are linked to outbreaks of the parasite. Chlorine does not kill the parasite.
Yates called the woman to apologize. He also said he has reached out to the Illinois Department of Public Health for clarification.
UPDATE: WCBU Peoria Public Radio received this comment from the IDPH shortly after publishing the story on deadline Friday:
No conflict exists between Illinois law giving women the right to breastfeed and the Illinois Swimming Facility Act and Code. Rather, the Illinois Swimming Facility Act and Code do not address breastfeeding.