Yes, Breastfeeding Laws Exist

"Nationwide Nurse-In" Set for Friday, April 29 to Bring Awareness to Breastfeeding Protections and Legislation

Hundreds are expected to participate in the Second Annual Nationwide Nurse-In on Friday, April 29 at Capitol buildings throughout the United States.

The event will unite breastfeeding mothers and their supporters around the country.

Colorado mother Laura Delmonico leads the nationwide effort. She started the annual event to bring awareness to breastfeeding and pumping laws and legislation. Delmonico states, “We have made a lot of progress with public awareness of breastfeeding laws, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

American women have many hurdles to their personal breastfeeding success, from uncomfortable public attitudes to hostile work environments. Strong legislation and broad awareness of the laws in place will help us to overcome these hurdles.

Laura Delmonico

Organizer, Nationwide Nurse-In

Earlier this month, a Hendersonville, North Carolina judge ordered a mother to leave his courtroom because her baby needed to be breastfed. The mother and her baby were both legally present, and breastfeeding is a protected right in North Carolina courtrooms.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that protect a mother's right to breastfeed her child anywhere she is lawfully present. Michigan mother and Natural Term Nursing Normalized Founder and Michigan event organizer Jeni Soeltner credits state laws for her overall positive breastfeeding experience. Soeltner states, “Knowing that the law is on my side has given me confidence when nursing in public. My goal is that all mothers enjoy a similar experience.”

Beth Burgess is the organizer for Idaho, the only remaining state without protections for breastfeeding in public. Burgess notes, “I have known many women who have been asked to leave businesses or told to cover up while nursing in Idaho. If Idaho had laws in place protecting breastfeeding, mothers would have more options to take action.”

Burgess describes a recent encounter that her friend endured. The mother needed to nurse her fussy four-month-old during her older daughter’s hair appointment in Burley, Idaho. Burgess states, “The salon owner brought over an old, worn out, stained towel and placed it on the baby’s head. The mother is non-confrontational, so she finished nursing her baby while her daughter’s hair cut was completed and then she quietly left. What this mother experienced was completely unacceptable.”

PositiveBreastfeeding.com Founder Jill DeLorenzo is the organizer for the Washington, DC event on the United States Capitol lawn. DeLorenzo states, “The federal government can play a major role in improving the lives of breastfeeding families everywhere. I want to bring awareness to the lack of federal breastfeeding protections. I also want to show support for active legislation, such as the FAM Act.”

The Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act of 2015, introduced by Representative Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, would amend the United States Code to provide for private lactation areas in the terminals of large and medium hub airports. The bipartisan bill passed through the United States Senate on April 19.

Louisiana mother Adrienne Laurent is participating to bring awareness to a horrifying law violation she experienced. “I had my right to breastfeed violated at my older daughter's open house at school. I was discreetly nursing my then-4 month old. A staff member of the school walked up to me and said ‘Do you mind if I cover your breast?’ Without me even acknowledging her, she proceeded to cover me.”

According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), Louisiana is at the bottom of the list for breastfeeding rates. The CDC's Breastfeeding Report Card states that just over half of Louisiana babies have ever been breastfed, and only 9.6 percent are breastfeeding at one year of age.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that breastfeeding continue through age two or beyond. Yet very few American families meet this minimum recommendation.

Wisconsin mother Brandi Lynn Champeau describes an American culture that can be hostile toward breastfeeding mothers. “There have been people online who have shamed me [for breastfeeding] and told me I shouldn't be nursing my daughter anymore. They are not very intimidating to me; I just ignore them most of the time. The biggest thing that bothers me about people who shame me online is that I know there are other moms who don't just ignore them and they can get very hurt by that which can cause them to end their breastfeeding journey. I think that's very sad.”

Champeau is optimistic about the impact her participation will have. “I believe that breastfeeding laws will have a positive impact on people who have negative views of nursing in public, as well as a positive impact on mothers who are afraid of being shamed for nursing in public.”

One way that the Nationwide Nurse-In hopes to support breastfeeding families is by advocating for workplace pumping laws. Jeni Soeltner relies on federal and state workplace pumping laws to meet her breastfeeding goals. “In order for breastfeeding to be successful, milk needs to be removed on a regular basis. These laws are necessary to provide women adequate time and a clean place to pump in order for them to succeed at breastfeeding. This is especially important for women who have no paid maternity leave and will have to leave their babies just weeks after birth.”

Laura Delmonico hopes that broad support for pumping laws will increase breastfeeding rates, as well as public acceptance of breastfeeding in public. “American women have many hurdles to their personal breastfeeding success, from uncomfortable public attitudes to hostile work environments. Strong legislation and broad awareness of the laws in place will help us to overcome these hurdles.”

Delmonico ultimately envisions a culture that is friendly toward breastfeeding families. “When and if my daughter decides to become a mother, I want her to have no fear or reservations about feeding her babies anywhere and everywhere they need.”

More information about the Nationwide Nurse-In can be found on www.nationwidenursein.com or www.facebook.com/nwnievents.

Source: Nationwide Nurse-In


Categories: Civil Rights, Lifestyles and Society, Government

Tags: breastfeeding, capitol, discrimination, FAM Act, family, harassment, laws, legislation, nursing in public, society