Phenix City mother says restaurant owner covered her with a rag while breastfeeding

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PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) –

One Phenix City mother is speaking out after she says she was forced to cover-up while breastfeeding her infant daughter.

“I was humiliated. I didn’t expect to be treated like that, because I go to the mall, I go to the movies, I breastfeed my child openly, and never encountered someone so openly against it,” says Kati Bullard.

Bullard says the incident happened Wednesday afternoon at Giovanna’s Pizzaria in Phenix City.

She says their time at the restaurant quickly came to an end when she began breastfeeding her three-month-old daughter, Ashland.

She says that’s when an owner approached her.

“She asked me to cover up and then she took it upon herself to get a dishrag and try to cover me and my baby up with it,” says Bullard.

The owners of the restaurant released the following statement regarding the incident:

Giovanna’s has been in business for over 16 years. Our doors have always been open to everyone in the community with open arms. We receive all people and do not discriminate against anyone and most certainly not against such a natural and beautiful thing as breastfeeding. We have never had an issue with breastfeeding in the past.

This incident was not meant to intentionally embarrass this young lady. The motive was sincerely of good will intent. We are truly sorry that we offended her and expressed that to her. We also didn’t ask her to leave in fact, we told her she did not have to leave.

We are a family business and love serving our community. Again, we are sincerely sorry.

News Leader 9 also spoke exclusively with one of the restaurant owners, Nelson Rodriguez. He says the incident involving his wife was a misunderstanding.

Rodriguez says they were simply trying to assist another customer who was uncomfortable with the feeding.

He also says they have been in business for almost 20 years and have always welcomed breastfeeding mothers.

“This is not the only time we have had people come in here and breastfed. We allow it. We do not discriminate about breastfeeding. My wife was just trying to help out this young lady. She was not offending her in any way. She was offended and we are very sorry,” says Rodriguez.

Amanda Walker, longtime leader of the Le Leche League in Columbus, says situations like what Bullard encountered is a barrier many nursing mothers face when trying to breastfeed.

“I think that there is more awareness coming to it. More people are aware that the law does support the breastfeeding mother, but because of our culture, there is a bit of a barrier and not everyone follows that,” says Walker.

According to the Alabama Act 2006- 526 Section 22, in the State of Alabama, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is authorized to be present.

Bullard says through this story and experience, she wants to more-so raise awareness about nursing laws in the state.

“I just want to raise awareness that breastfeeding isn’t dirty, it isn’t anything sexual, and not something you should have to cover up or take your baby to the bathroom with dirty toilets. I just want breastfeeding to be more normalized,” says Bullard.

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