Breastfeeding is the way nature designed for you to nourish your baby. In the modern world, mothers are still be given a hard time about nursing their babies in public. It really pays to know the law so when someone complains you can stand up for yourself. Legislation guarantees you are given the place, space and time to pump for your baby at work which is really important for mothers to ensure they can still provide breast milk for their baby. Breastfeeding laws also ensures that formula companies can’t push formula on mothers and undermine their breastfeeding efforts before they’ve even had a chance to begin.
In 1981 the World Health Organization passed the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes to ensure that health concerns instead of profits persuade mothers to breastfeed. The code guards the marketing of infant formulas, bottles, nipples and complementary foods (when targeted for infants less than 6 months of age) to ensure it doesn’t compromise breastfeeding efforts. It gives guidelines for government and infant food product industraies as well as the healthcare system and its workers.
For those in California the laws are as follows:
- Cal. Civil Code § 43.3 (1997) allows a mother to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present. (AB 157)
- Cal. Health and Safety Code § 123360 and § 1257.9 provide that the Department of Public Health shall include in its public service campaign the promotion of mothers breastfeeding their infants. The department shall also 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 exclusive patient breastfeeding rates ranked in the lowest twenty-five percent of the state.
- Cal. Lab. Code § 1030 et seq. (2001) provides that employers need to allow a break and provide a room for a mother who desires to express milk in private.
- Cal. Assembly Concurrent Resolution 155 (1998) encourages the state and employers to support and encourage the practice of breastfeeding by striving to accommodate the needs of employees, and by ensuring that employees are provided with adequate facilities for breastfeeding and expressing milk for their children. The resolution memorializes the governor to declare by executive order that all state employees be provided with adequate facilities for breast feeding and expressing milk.
- Cal. Civil Code § 210.5 (2000)allows the mother of a breastfed child to postpone jury duty for one year and specifically eliminates the need for the mother to appear in court to request the postponement. The law also provides that the one-year period may be extended upon written request of the mother. [Chap. 266; AB 1814]
- Cal. Health and Safety Code § 1647 (1999) declares that the procurement, processing, distribution or use of human milk for the purpose of human consumption is considered to be a rendition of service rather than a sale of human milk. [Chap. 87; AB 532]
For more detailed information about the laws in your state go to http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/breast50.htm
State your rights if there are laws that protect you.
Choose to leave and avoid confrontation (although this may not always be convenient).
Contact your local newspaper to gain further publicity.
Consult a lawyer. In Connecticut or Hawaii this works especially well as the laws include penalties for not being allowed to nurse. In New Jersey you can contact the local Department of Health which can fine public accommodations that violate the law.
Contact your state legislator to sponsor a bill supporting the right to breastfeed in public.
Organize a nurse-in with mothers breastfeeding their babies at a specific location to highlight the issue
While researching for this blog I realised that we are very lucky in the US to have our right to breastfeeding protected. This is not the case in many other countries and information regarding breastfeeding legislation in other countries is scarce. This is all the information I found for the rest of the world:
If you have any further information about breastfeeding laws in other parts of the world, please share the information with relevent links here so we can helps spead the word. If there are currently no laws protecting your right to breastfeed, start campaigning to bring about change.
Much thanks to Brian Taylor for use of his photo