This post is part of the weekly breastfeeding blog hop, hosted by us, and co-hosted by Life as Wife, Mummy, and Nurse. This week’s topic is, “Do you know the laws that protect you as a breastfeeding mother?”.
You may have read the posts for the Hop a few weeks ago that discussed whether moms should ask permission before nursing in public. If not, can you read those here. There seemed to be a big resounding, “No!” from those who wrote about it, and many referenced the fact that breastfeeding in public is legally protected.
How many breastfeeding moms have taken the time to really educate ourselves on what the law says? I know that I honestly haven’t, despite being on my fourth nursling. I know it is legally protected, because others I trusted have told me so. Isn’t that enough?
Last week I was sitting at our local mall play area, and my toddler son, Nehemiah, needed to nurse. My three-year old was busy playing, and I wasn’t about to interrupt him for something as simple as his brother needing to eat! But I’ll admit that I paused for a minute. I talked about the breastfeeding climate in the Southern town where I live in this post, Some Day. Let’s just say… it’s not friendly. To make things more interesting, the mall security guards were making it their mission to ensure that everyone was strictly following the play area rules, such as no kids over a certain height, no strollers inside the play area, etc. They were spending a lot of time scrutinizing the play are and speaking to moms who were breaking the rules. There’s certainly no sign saying, “No public breastfeeding!!” but I had to wonder if the guards noticed me if they wouldn’t try to tell me to take it somewhere “more appropriate” or tell me I wasn’t allowed to do “that” in the play area. I reminded myself again that breastfeeding in public is legally protected, but I realized that in a true face to face confrontation, I wasn’t confident enough about what the law says to stand up well to bullying.
It was definitely time to correct that.
After a quick google search for “breastfeeding laws by state”, I found out this great information about breastfeeding and the law in my current state, Mississippi (excerpt below from this site):
Miss. Code Ann. § 17-25-7/9 (2006) prohibits any ordinance restricting a woman’s right to breastfeed and provides that a mother may breastfeed her child in any location she is otherwise authorized to be. (SB 2419)
Miss. Code Ann. § 43-20-31 (2006) requires licensed child care facilities to provide breastfeeding mothers with a sanitary place that is not a toilet stall to breastfeed their children or express milk, to provide a refrigerator to store expressed milk, to train staff in the safe and proper storage and handling of human milk, and to display breastfeeding promotion information to the clients of the facility.
Miss. Code Ann. Ch. 1 § 71-1-55 (2006) prohibits against discrimination towards breastfeeding mothers who use lawful break time to express milk.
I wish I had googled this years ago! I’ve been summoned to serve on juries twice as a breastfeeding mother. I’ve always sent a letter requesting to be exempted due to breastfeeding and other hardship factors, but I’ve been terrified that I would be summoned despite that. Right here in the law, I find out I’m protected from that kind of forced separation from my baby!
If the guards had spoken to me, I could have confidently told them that I’m allowed to breastfeed anywhere I am legally allowed to be, and that it is not considered indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, or a disturbance of the peace! Rock on!
I also find the information about licensed child care facilities interesting and encouraging, even though it doesn’t directly relate to me. For a state that has such low breastfeeding rates, we have pretty decent laws.
I encourage you to check out the site above and find out what the laws are that protect you. You will probably never need the information, but if nothing else it will provide you with some peace of mind. I’m considering putting the most relevant sections of my state laws on a business card that I can slip in my wallet and carry with me to hand out if a dispute were to arise. I’m pretty sure that would cause some folks to re-consider their stance.
Let’s breastfeed our babies confidently, whenever and wherever we are! Knowing the law will certainly help me to do that with greater ease in the future.
Have you looked up the breastfeeding laws in your state? Were you encouraged by what you found?
Be sure to check out what other moms have to say in the linky below! We would love if you would link up your old or current posts on this topic. If you’ll leave us your twitter handle in the comments, we’ll be sure to tag you when we tweet your post! If you are new to the Hop, be sure to check out the Breastfeeding Blog Hop page for more information about how it all works. If you would like to display the linky at the bottom of your post, click on “get the InLinkz code” and it will take you to a page where you can select the right code for your type of blog.
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