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World Breastfeeding Week: The rights of a nursing mother

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, we’ll be sharing tips, gear and facts to help you through your nursing journey. Today we’re sharing info on legislature in action to protect and support breastfeeding mothers. Did you know? In 2010, federal law was passed stating in part that employers (of more than 50 employees) must provide...

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, we’ll be sharing tips, gear and facts to help you through your nursing journey. Today we’re sharing info on legislature in action to protect and support breastfeeding mothers.
Did you know? In 2010, federal law was passed stating in part that employers (of more than 50 employees) must provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk. In addition, the employer must provide a place for this breast milk expression to take place—and bathrooms don’t count.
The passing of this law shows an awareness in the importance of breastfeeding—but how do the states stack up? Here is a list of a few laws on the books, taken from the National Conference of State Legislatures. See how your neck of the woods fares.
* Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
* Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
* Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.)
* Twelve states and Puerto Rico exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty. (California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia.)
* Five states and Puerto Rico have implemented or encouraged the development of a breastfeeding awareness education campaign. (California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Vermont.)
* Virginia allows women to breastfeed on any land or property owned by the state. Puerto Rico requires shopping malls, airports, public service government centers and other select locations to have accessible areas designed for breastfeeding and diaper changing that are not bathrooms.
* At least two states have laws related to child care facilities and breastfeeding. Louisiana prohibits any child care facility from discriminating against breastfed babies. Mississippi requires licensed child care facilities to provide breastfeeding mothers with a sanitary place that is not a toilet stall to breastfeed their children or express milk, to provide a refrigerator to store expressed milk, to train staff in the safe and proper storage and handling of human milk, and to display breastfeeding promotion information to the clients of the facility.
* California requires the Department of Public Health to develop a training course of hospital policies and recommendations that promote exclusive breastfeeding and specify staff for whom this model training is appropriate. The recommendation is targeted at hospitals with patients who ranked in the lowest 25 percent of the state for exclusive breastfeeding rates.
* Maryland exempts the sale of tangible personal property that is manufactured for the purpose of initiating, supporting or sustaining breastfeeding from the sales and use tax.
* California, New York and Texas have laws related to the procurement, processing, distribution or use of human milk.
* New York created a Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of Rights, which is required to be posted in maternal health care facilities. New York also created a law that allows a child under one year of age to accompany the mother to a correctional facility if the mother is breastfeeding at the time she is committed.
Click here to read more on the various state laws on breastfeeding, and to look up the legislature in your home turf.

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