Breastfeeding laws are proposed and reviewed every year. Besides the general health of the nation that is considerably better in pro-breastfeeding countries, breastfeeding brings huge cost savings for the health care.
To acknowledge unbeatable advantages of mother’s milk over other forms of nourishing a baby, many governments propose laws to support and promote breastfeeding in general and breastfeeding in public in particular.
Despite such laws and regulations breastfeeding mothers all over the US are still subject to harassment. It is important for every nursing woman to know: WE HAVE RIGHTS…protected by both federal and state laws. It is our responsibility to know them and act upon them!
US federal law (Affordable Care Act) requires all employers to provide employees with several unpaid breaks during the day to express breast milk in a place (other than a bathroom) for the duration of one year after baby’s birth.
There are certain exceptions, but not many employers are opposing the law. In fact, many companies go a step further by providing breast pumps at their new mom’s rooms. Breastfeeding-friendly work places have lower level of absenteeism and higher level of job satisfaction and production.
There are also state laws protecting breastfeeding. And since you can’t truly breastfeed exclusively without ever having to nurse in public, most states have laws allowing public breastfeeding (see chart below).
As the chart shows Illinois is the most breastfeeding-friendly state, followed by Mississippi, Montana and Oklahoma.
West Virginia is the only state that stays passive in breastfeeding matters.
It is worth mentioning that according to the Breastfeeding Report Card compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012, breastfeeding rates continue to rise at a rate of approximately 2% per year.³
This is a promising improvement, but a lot of work still needs to be done.
It is always good to know your federal/state laws before negotiating your work conditions while still breastfeeding or pumping.
There shouldn't be any strong resistance from employers: most companies realize that there is more damage from opposing breastfeeding than from supporting it.
But the knowledge of these breastfeeding laws helps nursing moms become more confident and comfortable about doing the right thing for their babies and themselves.
¹ Source: “Got Milk?” by Jennifer B. Saunders
There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.