Your Breastfeeding Rights
Did you know that as a breastfeeding mom you have certain rights? There are laws in place to help you meet your breastfeeding goals, including laws about breastfeeding in public and pumping at work. Talk to your WIC clinic about breastfeeding laws in your area.
Breastfeeding in Public
Chances are you won't be at home or in a private, comfortable place every time your baby gets hungry. Instead, you may be in the middle of eating a meal, running an errand, or sitting in the park. It's not uncommon to feel uncomfortable about the idea of breastfeeding in public. But you have the right-in most states-to feed your baby anytime, anywhere.
There is no national law about breastfeeding in public. It's up to your state to decide. In 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands, there are laws that allow moms to breastfeed in any public or private place.
Even with the laws on their side, many moms are still uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. These tips for breastfeeding in public can help you feel more comfortable.
Pumping at Work
In most workplaces, women have the right to pump at work. Two federal laws provide protections for workers to pump breastmilk while at work:
- Break Time for Nursing Mothers was passed in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act.
- The PUMP (Provide Urgent Maternal Protections) Act, which took effect April 28, 2023, updates Break Time for Nursing Mothers to expand the types of workers covered.
These laws require certain employers to provide breastfeeding moms time and space to pump. Specifically, this means:
- A private, functional space that isn't a bathroom, and
- A reasonable break time to pump each time you need to express milk while you're working.
Previously, this law covered most hourly and some salaried employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Now, the PUMP Act expanded coverage to include teachers, nurses, farmworkers, and many others. If your type of employment is not covered, your state may have laws that protect your right to pump at work.
You have these rights for one year after your baby's birth. If you already get breaks, you can use that time to pump. Additional time may not be paid or authorized by your employer.
To learn more about your rights, visit the Office on Women’s Health Supporting Nursing Moms at Work website or ask WIC Breastfeeding staff about your state's laws.