Over the last 25 years, the Surgeons General of the United States have worked to protect, promote, and support mothers who choose to breastfeed. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., issued a national Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, urging doctors, family members, employers, communities, and local governments to help more mothers meet their breastfeeding goals.
Breastfeeding in public
Generally speaking, every mom has the right to breastfeed anywhere that she and her baby are legally allowed to be. This includes stores, restaurants, coffee shops, museums, and parks. In most states, laws protect a mother’s right to breastfeed. (Read “Breastfeeding in Daily Life.”) The more confident you feel with breastfeeding, the easier nursing in public will be. And you can have peace of mind knowing that you can meet your baby’s needs anywhere you happen to be.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:
- 45 states and the District of Columbia have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.
- 24 states and the District of Columbia have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace.
- At least two states (Louisiana and Mississippi) have laws related to child care facilities and breastfeeding.
To see a state-by-state breakdown of the breastfeeding laws and learn the specific provisions of your state’s law, go to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website.
Breastfeeding and employment
More than half of African-American women are the family breadwinners. Plenty of working moms successfully meet their breastfeeding goals by pumping in the workplace. For some working women, having a positive work arrangement starts during pregnancy. Your coworkers who are moms are a great resource to ask about back-to-work transition. Your employer is also important to consider talking to about your breastfeeding plans. For tips on breastfeeding in the workplace, read The Business Case for Breastfeeding.
Many states have laws in place related to breastfeeding in the workplace. On a national level, the Affordable Care Act included a requirement for employers to provide reasonable break time for breastfeeding employees in a place that is private, clean, and not a bathroom. For more information, read Break Time for Nursing Mothers.