Hey! Can she do that here? Breastfeeding Laws
There are a few topics that are sure to ignite a lively discussion in any given group: religion, politics and breastfeeding.
Healthcare experts tout the benefits of breastfeeding, but public opinion is sometimes critical of the idea, and many people are still uncomfortable seeing women nursing—however discreetly—in public places.
In the past five years, government has stepped in to protect the rights of nursing mothers through laws and guidelines.
Permission to nurse
Pennsylvania has legislation giving mothers legal permission to breastfeed.
In 2007, Gov. Edward G. Rendell signed a law making it legal for a woman to breastfeed in public or private places. The law also exempts breastfeeding from public indecency and nuisance laws.
Previously, Pennsylvania was one of only 14 states that did not protect a woman's right to breastfeed. The law was introduced by state Sen. Connie Williams (D-Delaware County), after an incident at a Reading mall where a security guard asked a nursing mother to move to the bathroom. The incident prompted a group of breastfeeding mothers to hold a “nurse-in” at the mall in protest.
In addition, in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010 to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Under the act, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, employers are required to provide a “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”
In addition, employers are required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break time requirement if compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship.
Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.
For more information on the FLSA requirements, visit the Wage and Hour Division Website at www.wagehour.dol.gov or call the helpline at 1-866-4USWAGE.
- According to a Nurses’ Health Study, women who have breastfed for at least six months are less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who bottle-fed. The study followed 56,000 U.S. women who each had at least one child. Nearly 8,900 women were diagnosed with high blood pressure, but the odds were 22 percent higher for women who did not breastfeed their first child, as opposed to women who had exclusively breastfed for six months.
- Across the world, less than 40 percent of infants under 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed, according to the World Health Organization.
- Breast milk transmits antibodies from the mother to the infant, which are especially vital during the first few months of life when the infant’s immune system is immature and lacks the ability to produce its own antibodies.
- Breastfeeding increases a mother’s metabolism, which helps with post-partum weight loss.
When nursing, pay attention to what you are eating.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables (organic when possible)
- Protein sources (also organic when possible)
- 8-12 glasses of water, juice, herbal teas
- Calcium rich foods (dairy, greens, legumes)
- Caffeinated beverages and all soda pop
- Foods that bother the infant (spices for some)
Source: Chicago Healers Practitioner Dr. Marilyn Mitchell, MD.