Breastfeeding and The Law
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Breastfeeding and The Law

A look at breastfeeding laws in public and in the workplaceI got an alarming text from a student last week.  I won’t share the details since I haven’t asked permission.  What I can tell you is that it reminded me how little the general public and employers know about our breastfeeding and pumping “rights” as outlined in state and federal law. 
 
Since my passion for breastfeeding is second only to my passion for natural birth, I forget that I live in a vacuum of other BF fanatics.  Just because we know and discuss the laws amongst ourselves does not mean that we are doing a good job at educating the public.  Here is one attempt to rectify that.
 
If you live in Arizona, there are two statutes that protect your right to breastfeed in public.  One states that breastfeeding shall not be considered an indecent exposure.  The other one states that moms can breastfeed in any place that they are lawfully present.
 
Here are the statutes and the exact language:
 
A.R.S. 41-1443
A mother is entitled to breastfeed in any area of a public place or a place of public accommodation where the mother is otherwise lawfully present.
 
A.R.S. 13-1402
Indecent exposure does not include an act of breastfeeding by a mother.
 
While I am grateful for our laws, I found out when I was traveling this summer that our home state looks pretty measly compared to the protections afforded to women in other states.
 
Click here to see state breastfeeding laws across the United States.
 
So that is one area clarified:  If you live in Arizona or one of the other 45 states where nursing in public is protected, you can lawfully breastfeed in public.  If you live in Idaho, Michigan, South Dakota, Virginia or West Virginia you will find that your rights to breastfeed in public are not explicitly protected under your state law.  There are some great laws on the books in other states – you can get involved and make a difference for mamas in your home state.
 
The second area that pertains to breastfeeding and the law is pumping in the workplace.  Yes, you can!  And although we have yet to see what the whole law in action looks like, a golden nugget in the Affordable Care Act (2010) is that moms who want to pump at work now have a Federal Law that backs up and supports their choice.
 
One of the provisions in the ACA addressed the needs of moms who want/need to make a career outside the home and breastfeeding work for them.  Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was amended to include a provision for mothers who want to express milk in the workplace.
 
Here are the highlights:
  • Employers are required to provide reasonable break time
  • Frequency is “as needed” by the nursing mother
  • A private, non-bathroom place for nursing mothers to express breast milk during the workday should be provided
  • The place is to be shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public
  • Nursing mothers are to be accommodated for one year after the child’s birth
 
There are some exemptions for providing a dedicated space if a company is less than 50 employees, however, they must still allow you privacy and the time to express milk for baby.  If your state law is more inclusive and/or provides more protection than the federal law, then the state law prevails.
 
“My” La Leche League leader makes a great suggestion to the working out of the home moms that attend meetings.  She suggests that using a neutral word may make the discussion a little easier to have when you are reminding your boss that they need to follow the law.  Her idea is to  replace the word “breastfeeding” with the word “lactation” when discussing your needs with your supervisors. 
 
For an overview of workplace support under federal law, click here.
 
For a Fact Sheet you can share with your employer, click here.

 
Many moms have been able to resume their career outside of the home and still maintain an exclusive breastmilk relationship with their child.  As I listen to moms who have made the choice to pump after returning to work, I hear that the women who do so successfully have these things in common:
  • Partners support the choice by helping mom in the way that she wants and asks for help, and they appreciate the commitment.
  • They have a clear goal in mind and an intrinsic belief that breastmilk is the choice for their family.
  • They are part of a support system that affirms their choice, whether it’s other moms at work that are making the same choice or a support group, such as La Leche League.
 
Here are some links to help you make the most of your pumping sessions at work:
Milk Calculator – how much does baby need?

Making “the most” out of your pumping sessions

 
I will close by asking pumping moms to look into hand expression.  There are many videos and tutorials up on the internet.  It is a great way to finish the pumping sessions because  the breastmilk only vacuums out what is at the front of the breast.  By becoming proficient at hand expression, a mama can get more milk after the pumping session with the machine is over.

Here is one link - you need to register your email address to access.
 
Do you have any tips to share about pumping during office hours?  Please leave a comment – thank you!
 
Laws in action: A look at state laws along our road trip

Link List:
State Breastfeeding Laws
http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx

FLSA - Section 7 Information
http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/Workplace/WorkplaceSupport/WorkplaceSupportinHealthCareReform/tabid/175/Default.aspx

FLSA - Section 7 Fact Sheet
http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm

Kelly Mom Milk Calculator
http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/

Making the Most of Pumping Sessions
http://bfmed.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/nicu-pearl-cover-the-containers-during-pumping-to-make-more-milk/
 
Hand expression video
http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/HandExpression.html

Disclaimer: 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonThe material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

 

1 Comment to Breastfeeding and The Law:

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Senate bill 900 on Sunday, June 08, 2014 11:16 PM
First of all let me tell you, you have got a great blog .I am interested in looking for more of such topics and would like to have further information. Hope to see the next blog soon.
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