A Mom's Right: Breastfeeding in Public
Breastfeeding in public is legal, but common sense and a little discretion go a long way.
Soon the rights of breastfeeding women across the
United States may get an even bigger boost thanks to The Breastfeeding
Promotion Act, a bill introduced in May 2005 by Rep. Carolyn Maloney
"Moms contact me all the time frustrated because
they would like to breastfeed but face some really tough obstacles both at work
and in public settings, " says Maloney, whose record on health issues
concerning women and children clearly make her a new mom's best
Among the challenges her legislation addresses: The
right to a clean, safe area of a workplace where a woman can express her milk
-- or feed her baby -- and tax incentives for businesses that establish private
lactation areas in the workplace.
"I have heard many horror stories of women who
were fired for trying to figure out a way to express milk at work. My bill
clarifies the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to protect breastfeeding under
federal civil rights law, ensuring that women cannot be fired or discriminated
against in the workplace for expressing (pumping) milk or breastfeeding during
breaks or lunch time," says Maloney.
The legislation also calls for new standardized safety
guidelines for breast pumps. Plus, it offers companies important tax incentives
for creating environments that areconducive to breastfeeding.
"One way employers can make the workplace a better
place: support working women who breastfeed. Employers should not stand in the
way of a woman doing the most natural thing on earth -- breastfeeding her
child," says Maloney.
Handling Awkward Moments While Breastfeeding in Public
Experts say new moms can help encourage a more liberal
and accepting attitude about breastfeeding in public by using common sense and
modest discretion when feeding their hungry babies.
In fact, lactation counselors say that with just
a little bit of practice at home in front of the mirror, any nursing mom can
learn to breastfeed so modestly the public will scarcely notice -- let alone
"When I first started breastfeeding I used to sit
in front of a full length mirror and try out different positions and different
ways of placing my clothing to see which looked the most discreet. Then I would
do it in front of my husband and ask him if anything was unnecessarily
exposed," says Pat Sterner, IBCLC, a lactation counselor at the Mount Sinai
Medical Center in New York. "In a very short time I felt very confidant
about nursing in public."