YMCA to make changes after nursing mom told to move

YMCA to make changes after nursing mom told to move


by MICHELLE BOUDIN / NewsChannel 36 Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @MichelleBoudin


Posted on July 16, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 16 at 7:01 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A story NewsChannel 36 first broke on Friday is prompting change across Charlotte.

A local mother was asked not to breast feed in a YMCA daycare center but  instead to move to a family locker room.

NewsChannel 36’s report prompted an outpouring of support for the mom and an outcry for change that now appears to be in the works.
A lot has happened since we first talked with the Charlotte mother of four, Jenn Youakim.

“It’s been a long road, it’s been a long road,” she said Monday afternoon.
She first came to us after a staffer at uptown's Dowd YMCA asked her not to breastfeed in the childcare center. 

The worker asked her to move to the family locker room because other parents had complained.
The story received a huge response.

Youakim said, “Different parenting blogs are picking it up, it’s going all over.”
One viewer wrote: “It's perfectly natural! This has been going on for thousands of years. Leave her alone, and get over it.”

Another viewer said, “Women who breastfeed in public should cover their breasts. Young children do not need to see it.”

A lot of people referenced the North Carolina law. One viewer wrote in asking, “The law states she is free to nurse so shouldn't she be allowed to exercise her rights?”
We checked with the former director of the North Carolina breastfeeding coalition and learned the YMCA did not violate the law asking Youakim to move.

Dr. Laura Sinai told us, “Officially a woman could be breastfeeding in a private location, and YMCA’s are now a privately owned location, and she could be asked to leave even though she’s doing something that in and of itself is not illegal. There is a weakness in the law.”
But Youakim and most of her supporters say this is more about the YMCA as a family wellness center asking her to stop breastfeeding in the daycare center. She says they only apologized to her after our story aired and angry comments showed up on their website.
Late Monday afternoon, the YMCA also sent a statement saying in part this incident "…has prompted the Y to review and to revisit our breastfeeding policy across branches to ensure our support of and compliance with state law."
The YMCA also told us they fully support a woman's right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere and they are educating staffers on this policy.