American women have fought long and hard for breastfeeding rights. Even today, you will still hear stories about moms being shamed for breastfeeding their children. Thankfully, the majority of this country protects breastfeeding mothers, giving them the right to nurse their children in public. Most American workplaces allow their lactating employees to pump at work, and many public buildings are equipped with nursing rooms available for a mother's convenience. But, if you are a breastfeeding mother who will be traveling or even moving to another country, you will want to research what the breastfeeding laws are in other countries.
It's important to know what to expect and how to follow the local laws when you are abroad. Many foreign governments enforce regulations based on religious and cultural beliefs, which can be very different than what you are used to here in the United States. Some cultures may value breastfeeding, but consider nursing in public to be indecent. Other cultures may have such deep rooted history of breastfeeding, that mothers feed their babies anywhere and everywhere without a second thought.
Organizations such as La Leche League International and Save The Children are doing their part all around the world to educate on the importance of breastfeeding. Here are some of the breastfeeding laws you will find in other countries.
1. United Arab Emirites
According to The Guardian the United Arab Emirites passed a law in 2014 requiring all mothers to breastfeed their children until they are two years old. The law also requires that all government offices must provide a nursery so working mothers can breastfeed. The Huffington Post reported that if a woman cannot breastfeed due to health reasons, the Emirates’ Federal National Council will provide a wet nurse to her.
Under Australia's federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 it is illegal to discriminate against a person either directly or indirectly on the grounds of breastfeeding, according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association. This means that a baby can be fed anywhere at anytime, and a parent cannot be refused service
According to Outwarden, the advertisement and promotion of infant formula is banned in Brazil. In São Paulo, entities that prohibit or discriminate breastfeeding will face a fine according to The Guardian.
La Leche League International reported that 99 percent of women in Norway breastfeed their children at birth and 70 percent are still exclusively breastfeeding at three months. This is encouraged by a law which allows mothers to take up to 36 weeks off work with 100 percent of their pay, or they may opt to take off 46 weeks with 80 percent pay according to Save The Children. Additionally, The New York Time noted that advertising formula is banned in Norway.
In the Philippines, the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 requires workplaces to provide a lactation station for nursing mothers. Breastfeeding moms are entitled to lactation periods at work, requiring a minimum of a 40 minute lactation break for every eight hour working period, which can be broken up throughout the day.
Pakistan enacted the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Act 2015, which Save the Children noted makes it mandatory for formula manufacturers to conspicuously write on their containers in bold characters, “Mother's milk is best for your baby and helps in preventing diarrhea and other illnesses.” The law also bans health workers from promoting any bottled or packaged milk to infants up to the age of twelve months.
According to the International Baby Food Action Network, Greek law provides breastfeeding mothers a form of "breastfeeding leave.” In the country, working mothers have the right to one of the following:
- Work one hour less daily for the same pay for the first 30 months after the end of maternity leave.
- Work two hours less daily for the same pay for the first 12 months after the end of maternity leave and one hour less for the following six months
- Three and a half months extension of maternity leave instead of working less daily.
- A breastfeeding mother has the right not to serve night duty until her child turns 12 months of age or she has a right to a leave with full pay.
A working breastfeeding mother in Argentina is entitled to two daily breastfeeding breaks, of thirty minutes each until the child's first birthday according to the International Labour Organization. This time may be extended upon submission of a medical certificate.
9. Great Britain
According to The Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for a business to discriminate against a woman because she is breastfeeding a child of any age in Great Britain. Businesses may also be held liable for the way other customers in their establishment treat a breastfeeding woman.