A breastfeeding mom says a kids gym employee in Ontario stopped her from nursing because her "breast milk could stain the mats"

By Julie Mazziotta
March 22, 2018 10:55 AM

A breastfeeding mom says that a kids’ gym class employee stopped her from nursing because her “breast milk could stain the mats.”

Monica Makey was taking a “parent and tot” gym class with her almost-2-year-old daughter Vayda at Dynamo Gymnastics in Cambridge, Ontario on Sunday when Vayda wanted to eat.

“We were over by the mats, and I just sat down where we were standing and started nursing,” Makey told Canada’s CTV News.

The gym employee then came over to Makey and said she couldn’t nurse in that area because of the gym’s food and drink policy. The mom asked if she could breastfeed in the area where the kids keep their water bottles, but was again turned down.

“At first I was angry, and then I was disappointed and just shocked,” Makey said.

“What this gym did was illegal, they were in the wrong,” she added on Facebook. “Yet, I was made to feel embarrassed and ashamed for breastfeeding my toddler ‘in the middle of the gym.’ “

Ontario law allows mothers to breastfeed in public, with or without a cover, wherever they choose, according to Ontario’s Human Rights Commission.

Dynamo Gymnastics co-owner Lisa Rutledge tells PEOPLE that she has since apologized to Makey in person, and with a Facebook post on their page. She says that they brought in a breastfeeding specialist to re-train the staff, and are re-examining their policies.

“We want to make sure that everyone is aware of how supportive of breastfeeding we are. We value and support everyone, especially mothers who are breastfeeding. We just want to make it right, and we’re going to revisit all of our policies and make sure the staff members are properly trained,” the gym’s co-owner, Lisa Rutledge, tells PEOPLE. “I’m a mom, I breastfed both of my kids, our whole club and organization is very pro breastfeeding. It was an unfortunate misunderstanding.”

And members of the gym replied to Dynamo’s Facebook post in support.

“THIS is why we love you guys! No one is perfect we understand that, but you are making this right and that speaks volumes!” wrote one gym-goer.

“I have seen many women nurse their babies and never felt like they were treated different or had to leave. Clearly a misunderstanding. They go above and beyond for everyone and have such professionalism,” added another.

Makey, however, said that she was still angry with how Dynamo handled the incident that day.

“After speaking to the owner of the gym it was clear that not only was the employee ignorant of the law but so was the owner,” Makey wrote on Facebook. “She was defensive and made excuses. A simple, ‘I’m sorry that happened, she was wrong. You have the right to breastfeed anywhere in our facility’ would have been the only acceptable response.”

Makey said she’s speaking out about the incident because of the lack of knowledge about breastfeeding laws.

“Many people believe they are supportive of breastfeeding but most do not understand that it is our legal human right to breastfeed WHEREVER and WHENEVER — no exceptions. Especially not because of a ridiculous ‘food and drink policy,’ ” she wrote. “I ask that you please SHARE this post in hopes of educating everyone on this very important matter. Clearly, work still needs to be done in supporting and normalizing breastfeeding.”

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