QUEENS — A Queens mother who was recently told at the Forest Hills Library that she should be breastfeeding her baby in the bathroom, wants women to be aware of their right to nurse in public.
Sherry Singh, a mother of two, said she just finished breastfeeding her 4 1/2-month-old daughter Karina Saturday morning, when a library employee approached her and told her that she had to go to the bathroom in order to nurse her child, as first reported by the New York Daily News.
Singh, who said she was wearing a nursing cover, got very upset.
"I got very angry because I’ve never ever heard of this," she said. "I said: 'What I’m doing is perfectly legal and you are mistaken.'"
The employee told her that another patron complained, she said.
Singh, a stay-at-home mother from Kew Gardens, said she called her husband, who quickly researched the issue and reassured her that state law allows women to breastfeed their child, covered or uncovered, in any public or private place where they have a right to be, like restaurants, parks or movie theaters.
"No one can tell you to leave any of these places because you are breastfeeding, and no one can tell you to breastfeed in a bathroom, a basement or a private room," the New York Civil Liberties Union wrote on its website.
Singh, who goes to the Forest Hills Library at least once a week, added that she was even more shocked because she also breastfed her 4-year-old daughter Savita there, when she was a baby, and no one had ever complained.
She also said she was disappointed because the “library is very important to the community and for families," especially now that the local Barnes & Noble is closing and weather is getting colder.
She said that ironically she even attended meetings of La Leche League, a nonprofit that promotes breastfeeding, that are held at the Forest Hills Library.
Joanne King, a spokeswoman for the Queens Library, said that the staff member who approached Singh, was mistaken and that the library welcomes nursing mothers.
“It is not now and it never was a practice to restrict them,” she said in an email.
"Queens Library apologizes to any parent who was made to feel uncomfortable about feeding a child in the library," the library said in the statement. "We encourage families to come to the library. We make a special effort to support early learning and to attract the very youngest library users."
Singh said she hopes her ordeal will help spread awareness about breastfeeding rights.
“We really do need to normalize breastfeeding,” she said.
The library said it "will be giving our staff additional coaching to remind them about the proper practice for maintaining a welcoming environment for all library customers."