Breastfeeding Laws Every Nursing Mom Should Know

Ad failed to load

As I was being discharged from the hospital after giving birth, my nurse gave me a post-pregnancy package the size of a college textbook. She included all kinds of information, from how to treat my C-section scar to best positions for breastfeeding. But, out of everything I found in that folder, there was one piece of paperwork that I coveted: A pocket-sized "Know Your Breastfeeding Rights" brochure for New York. Having a list of my local and state laws available wherever I went made me feel empowered. Every parent should be armed with similar knowledge, so here's a list of breastfeeding laws every nursing mom should know.

Back in 2010, as part of the Affordable Care Act reform, the U.S. government implemented a new rule requiring reasonable break time for nursing employees, according to the Bump. The provision, known as "Break Time For Nursing Mothers," amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act, mandating that businesses with 50 or more employees provide breastfeeding workers a reasonable place, other than a bathroom, to pump, and a reasonable amount of time to do so. So the first thing every breastfeeding parent should keep in mind is that your protections are really at the state level.

Breastfeeding In Public

Ad failed to load

Every nursing parent is worried about whether or not they can breastfeed in public without being harassed or arrested for public indecency. Luckily, 49 states, plus the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that afford parents the right to breastfeed in any public or private location, according to National Conference of State Legislatures. Idaho is the only state to not pass such a law. Twenty-nine states, though, plus D.C., exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. Those states include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, 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.

Other states have additional laws related to breastfeeding and public accommodations. In Louisiana, for example, state buildings have to have a suitable place available to parents who need to nurse or pump milk, according to the NCSL. In Mississippi, licensed child care facilities have to provide nursing parents with a reasonable space to breastfeed or pump that is not a bathroom, as well as provide refrigerator space to store milk.

Breastfeeding In The Workplace

Ad failed to load

In addition to the federal protections, 28 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have laws dictating breastfeeding rights in the workplace, according to the NCSL. (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.) Most states have passed legislation similar to "Break Time For Nursing Mothers," but some have gone even further to include anti-discrimination provisions. In Hawaii and California, for example, it's illegal for employers to discriminate against a nursing parent, such as refusing to hire or firing a worker for breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Laws

Ad failed to load

California's law also bars discrimination in housing against breastfeeding parents under its Fair Employment And Housing Act. Louisiana also passed a law that prohibits child care facilities from discriminating against babies who are breastfed.

Breastfeeding & Jury Duty

Ad failed to load

I haven't had to go on jury duty, but I could imagine the experience would be frustrating more so if you're a nursing parent. But breastfeeding parents in 17 states and Puerto Rico have the right to either be excused from jury duty or postpone service for at least a year, according to the NCSL. Those states are: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio is also considering similar legislation.

Breastfeeding is a natural act. Not all parents can or want to breastfeed their children, which is perfectly OK. But those who chose to should not have to hide or sit on nasty toilet seats in order to feed their kid. So the next time you're nursing at the mall or need to pump at work, make sure to pull out this list.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills