Laws that support breastfeeding
Over the last 25 years, the Surgeons General of the United States have worked to protect, promote, and support mothers who choose to breastfeed. Then-Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., issued a national Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, urging doctors, family members, employers, communities, and local governments to help more mothers meet their breastfeeding goals.
Breastfeeding in public
Generally speaking, every mom has the right to breastfeed anywhere that she and her baby are legally allowed to be. This includes stores, restaurants, coffee shops, museums, and parks. In most states, laws protect a mother's right to breastfeed. (Read Breastfeeding in Daily Life.) The more confident you feel with breastfeeding, the easier nursing in public will be. And you can have peace of mind knowing that you can meet your baby's needs anywhere you happen to be.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:1
- 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.
- 28 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace.
- At least three states (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Maryland) have laws related to child care facilities and breastfeeding.
See a state-by-state breakdown of the breastfeeding laws and learn what your state law says.
Breastfeeding and employment
Plenty of working moms continue breastfeeding after going back to work, by pumping in the workplace. For some working women, having a positive work arrangement starts during pregnancy. Your coworkers who are moms are a great resource to ask about back-to-work transition. Your employer is also important to your breastfeeding plans. For tips on breastfeeding in the workplace, check out how moms in all types of jobs have managed.
Many states have laws in place related to breastfeeding in the workplace. On a national level, federal law requires most employers to provide reasonable break time for breastfeeding employees in a place that is private, clean, and not a bathroom. For more information, read Break Time for Nursing Mothers.
1. National Conference of State Legislatures. (2017). Breastfeeding state laws.