Being a breastfeeding Babe has its many perks, but sometimes you may face some folks who don’t appreciate what you do, but may even try to stop you from doing it.
We encourage all Babes to know the Federal Breastfeeding Laws as well as their individual state’s laws, whether it’s nursing in public or pumping in the workplace.
Women have the right to breastfeed in any federal building or on federal property, as long as she and her child are otherwise authorized to be there.
For the full explanation, check out Jake Aryeh Marcus’s Breastfeeding Laws: Federal Law page.
Every state has their own set of laws: most states grant mothers the right to nurse in public but don’t have enforcement of that law, not all states protect moms from indecent exposure charges, and provisions for workplace pumping rights are rare at the state level.
Some states have very unique laws. Twelve states have laws that exempt nursing mothers from jury duty. Louisiana specifically prohibits child care facilities from discriminating against exclusively breastfeed babies. New York even allows a child under one who is breastfed to accompany a mother to a correctional facility. It’s good to know exactly what your state, and any states you’re visiting or frequent, allow.
Visit Breastfeeding Law for a comprehensive list of states and their unique laws.
We encourage all moms to print out copies, even laminate them, to keep in your pocket or diaper bag, so you have it at the ready to show anyone who may be uninformed and trying to infringe upon your rights.
Why are the laws the way they are?
To begin to understand the laws, especially if you’re looking to change them, a little understanding about why they are phrased how they are, as well as the way they came to be can be an important piece of information. Check out the History of Breastfeeding Laws page we’ve compiled.
Don’t like your state’s laws? Take Action and make changes!
Moms all over this country are standing up for their rights and making some real changes to the laws that help protect them and their babies. You can find small teams of dedicated moms who are successfully getting breastfeeding laws enacted to clarify, expand upon, and to strengthen breastfeeding laws with enforcement provisions in their home state. If you want to make a change in your state, here’s how to get started:
First, search social media and find an existing group of moms in your state that you can help by joining their team. Here are some of the ones we know about. If you have one that isn’t listed, e-mail us at takeaction AT bestforbabes.org to get it added!
No existing group? No problem! For step-by-step guides on what to do:
- Check out our BFB Guide To Legislative Change.
- Read up on Smart Legislative Word Choices for drafting a sample bill.
- Check out USBC’s Toolbox for Breastfeeding Advocates
- Get involved in your State Breastfeeding Coalitions.