An uproar over a woman breastfeeding her baby at the Nessler Park Family Aquatic Center pool in Texas City on Sunday turned into a nurse-in protest at the facility’s front gate Monday.
About 30 women, many of them young mothers with babies and toddlers in tow, gathered at the front entrance of the pool to express their solidarity with Misty Daugereaux over her right to breastfeed her child in public.
The protest arose after Daugereaux wrote an emotional post on Facebook on Sunday. It began: “Stand for nothing and you’ll fall for anything! I got kicked out of Nessler Family Aquatic in Texas City today for breastfeeding my son!”
Daugereaux, 30, of Texas City, said she was breastfeeding her 10-month-old son, Maxx, beside the baby pool when a young male lifeguard confronted her.
“He told me, ‘You can’t do that here,’” Daugereaux said.
Daugereaux, who was wearing a one-piece suit with a slit between the breasts, said she was nursing the baby on one breast and holding her hand over his face while watching her son and another child in her charge playing in the pool.
When Daugereaux refused to stop feeding Maxx, the lifeguard complained to the pool’s manager, Daugereaux said.
“She told me, ‘You can’t do that here. It’s public pool. It’s our policy,’ and I said, ‘You show me where it says breastfeeding is against policy,” Daugereaux said.
After that confrontation, a Texas City Police Department officer went into the pool area and told Daugereaux the manager wanted her to leave.
Body cam footage of the encounter between Daugereaux and the officer can be seen on the Texas City Police Department’s Facebook page. On it, Daugereaux explained to the officer she was feeding her baby. He asked if she “cussed out” the lifeguard and she denied doing so, saying she had two other children with her and wouldn’t do that in front of them.
In the end, the officer told Daugereaux the manager wanted her to leave and Daugereaux left.
In her Facebook post, Daugereaux said she was escorted out of the pool area, along with the three children with “tears pouring down my face.”
“I felt so defeated, and I didn’t want to make a scene in front of the kids, so I just packed up our stuff and left,” Daugereaux said.
Her Facebook post drew more than 1,000 comments by 9:30 a.m. on Monday, and a local nursing support group, Milk Mamas, decided to stage a nurse-in at the pool in protest Monday morning.
Daugereaux decided to join them.
“If I’m gonna protest on social media, I should have the courage to show up and protest in person,” she said.
By the time the protest began Monday morning, the city of Texas City had issued a press release signed by Mayor Matt Doyle and the city’s commissioners.
“We, the City of Texas City are reviewing the nursing concerns raised at the Nessler Pool and how it was addressed by our staff,” the release said.
“We apologize to Misty Daugereaux as it is clear she was offended by how she was treated at our city facility.”
The press release promised that city policies and procedures will be reviewed and revised as necessary and that any deficiencies regarding employees’ actions will be addressed with training.
Christy Anne Dickson, executive director of the Pregnancy & Parenting Support Centers of Galveston County, was among protestors at the pool in support of Daugereaux’s and other women’s right to breastfeed in public.
“It’s been the law since 1995,” Dickson said. “She was mortified yesterday. I appreciated that she was willing to come forward today.”
Lorna McHone, the mother of five daughters and a son, traveled from League City to join the nurse-in.
“I’ve been breastfeeding for most of the past five years,” McHone said. “At first, I went into the bathroom whenever I needed to nurse my baby. She’s brave to be so young and to stand up for her rights.”
The manager on duty at the Nessler Center declined to comment.