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Do you know about the laws that protect moms who choose to breastfeed?

Posted by Alyssa Malmquist on August 31, 2021
Alyssa Malmquist
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Last week we talked about introducing solid foods with breast milk and how moms can prepare for breastfeeding before a baby is born. As we reach the end of National Breastfeeding Month, we discuss how breastfeeding wasn't always as accepted as it is today and the laws put in place to protect moms who choose to breastfeed. Whether you're a provider, parent, or family member of a new parent—continue reading to learn more.

National Breastfeeding Month is an opportunity to spread awareness while offering insight that answers common questions when it comes to breastfeeding. In an effort to expand education below we discuss the laws put in place around breastfeeding in public and at work.

Is there still a taboo around breastfeeding in public?

Based on the setting and privacy, some may still find themselves uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. For many moms today they could be the first in their families to breastfeed. Back in the 80s and 70s, there wasn't a push for breastfeeding because we didn't have the research that showed the benefits. So, formula companies promoted and marketed formula feeding around the world. Our Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Farah Shafi MD, shared that every mom leaving the hospital would get a free diaper bag from Enfamil or Similac during her first residency. Since then, they've banned many of those diaper bags to prevent added pressure on moms' decision.

Are there additional laws that protect and support breastfeeding?

When President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it included protection for working moms who were breastfeeding. Now, employers with more than 50 employees must provide paid time and a place other than a bathroom for moms to express breast milk for one year after the child's birth.

Even though 84% of infants are breastfed, breastfeeding in public only became legal in all 50 states in 2018. All fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has a complete list of breastfeeding laws by state.

For additional resources visit massgeneral.org/obgyn/patient-resources/breastfeeding

Topics: Providers, Women's health

Disclaimer: The content in this blog post represents the clinical opinions of the providers at AllWays Health Partners and is based on the most currently available clinical and governmental guidance.

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