Can I Nurse in Public?
WHAT DOES YOUR STATE SAY?
- Breastfeeding State Laws
- Not every state’s laws are the same however, they all have laws that cover breastfeeding mothers and their rights
- Breastfeeding in public is not indecent exposure
Can I Breastfeed in Public?
What are the laws that protect me?
Well, this is a little bit of a difficult question, why? Because as of this very moment, there is no national law in the United States of America that speaks to breastfeeding in all places outside of your home. The federal government has left this decision up to your individual states. The good news is that all fifty states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S Virgin Islands have “laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.”
This sounds a little confusing, I know… Let me break it down a little more for you.
First, I want to discuss New York State laws regarding breastfeeding as this is where my private practice is located. New York State created the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of Rights. There are several rights that you have as a mother when it comes to your time at the hospital after delivery and once you come home. In the hospital, you have the right to keep your baby in your room, nurse your baby within one hour after delivery, refuse for your baby to not receive bottles or pacifiers, if your baby is in the NICU and can’t breastfeed then every attempt will be made to provide your baby breastmilk, and more… (Check out the link above for the complete list).
- You have the right to nurse your baby in any public or private location as long as you are permitted to be there.
- Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding mothers to pump at work.
- Judiciary Law states that breastfeeding mothers are exempt from Jury Duty.
- Any covered public place must have a private space for breastfeeding and pumping mothers to use.
If you live in a different state, you can find a complete list of the 50 states and their laws on breastfeeding on the National Conference of State Legislature website. If you have questions on your specific state’s laws, please drop a comment and I will do my best to answer them.