SPRINGFIELD, Va. - A Virginia woman said she was scolded for breastfeeding her baby at church during a morning service.
Annie Peguero said that she was approached by four different church employees chastising her for breastfeeding her 1-year-old daughter without a cover last Sunday. She moved from one location to the next until she finally left.
By Monday, the nursing mother said she was determined to tell the staff about the state's breastfeeding law, but they never responded to her calls. Now, she has retained an attorney and posted about the incident on social media.
“I just sat down in the hallway across from the baby room,” she said. “I just sat on the floor and started nursing her and a church employee came up to me right away and covered up my baby with a fleece blanket. She said we have a lovely mom’s room, and I said, ‘That's great, thank you, but that's okay. I don't need it.’”
Peguero said she returned to the sanctuary only to be approached by another church employee.
“I was embarrassed,” said Peguero. “Here she was standing over me during the sermon and it was very disruptive. I was singled out and I decided to leave.”
She said on her way out, a pastor's wife then told her of the church's unwritten policy encouraging mothers to go to the "mom’s room."
“She shared that men would feel uncomfortable if they saw me breastfeeding, teenagers would feel uncomfortable, and they didn't want to do that to men or teenagers or new churchgoers who might see me breastfeeding,” said Peguero.
“A mom has the right to breastfeed a child anywhere she is legally allowed to be,” said Peguero’s attorney, Rebecca Geller. “There is no state law requiring her to cover up. Additionally, there is no religious exemption. This applies to a place of worship as well as any business.”
Geller said Peguero contacted her after Summit Church never responded to several calls from the nursing mother.
“The church has been advised that's actually in violation of state law concerning breastfeeding policies and they don't really seem to care,” said Geller.
Peguero has two young daughters and she said she has been nursing for four years and this is a first for her. She and her attorney are asking the church to make a public statement acknowledging Virginia's breastfeeding laws.
Summit Church said in a statement released on Friday: