You Have The Right To Breastfeed Your Baby

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN | Updated/Verified: Mar 15, 2024

So you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby – that’s great! It’s important to remember that it’s not just going to come naturally to you. You will have to work at it and figure out how to make it work best for your lifestyle. Here’s what you need to know.

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Breastfeeding By The Numbers

Percentage of infants breastfed in some capacity over the first 6 months

Mississippi23.9 %
Louisiana31.2 %
Kentucky35.3 %
Alabama35.8 %
West Virginia35.8 %
Indiana37.7 %
Oklahoma37.9 %
Arkansas39.5 %
Delaware40.6 %
Tennessee42.5 %
Ohio43.8 %
South Carolina44 %
Texas46.5 %
Florida47.3 %
North Carolina47.5 %
Pennsylvania47.6 %
Georgia48.9 %
Nevada49.5 %
Nebraska50 %
Kansas50.5 %
New Mexico51.1 %
North Dakota51.5 %
Michigan51.6 %
Illinois52.5 %
New Jersey52.6 %
Iowa52.9 %
South Dakota53.4 %
Arizona54.8 %
New Hampshire54.8 %
Virginia55.2 %
Connecticut55.3 %
New York55.8 %
Rhode Island56 %
Missouri56.6 %
Washington DC57.4 %
California58.5 %
Wisconsin58.9 %
Montana59.3 %
Wyoming59.5 %
Maine61.1 %
Alaska62.1 %
Washington63.7 %
Vermont64.6 %
Hawaii65.3 %
Idaho65.4 %
Minnesota65.9 %
Colorado66.2 %
Maryland66.5 %
Massachusetts67.9 %
Oregon68.2 %
Utah70.4 %
  • 51.8% of American infants overall

Americans Falling Behind

  • Rated lowest of developed countries for breastfeeding policy

The Consequences

  • 911 excess deaths and $13 billion in medical costs due to low breastfeeding rates every year

Public Breastfeeding

With 8-12 feeding sessions daily when you first start breastfeeding, you will probably need to breastfeed out in public – here's how!

    • Managing The Everyday Logistics
      • Gear Up
        • Use loose or specialty clothing that is more easy access
        • Pick bras that fit, are easily accessible, or can make pumping hands-free
        • Try wraps and blankets to cover-up if you feel uncomfortable with showing too much skin
        • Invest in a quality pump and products that can save you time and energy when pumping
      • Tips For Public Breastfeeding
        • Try turning towards a wall or away from others if you want to be less exposed while latching and unlatching
        • Practice in the mirror and trying techniques at home can help you and your baby be more comfortable in public
        • Develop a routine and schedule to help you stay on top of the process
        • Find a spot where you feel comfortable: back support can make you feel better physically while a private/less visible space can make you feel better emotionally
      • Know Your Rights
        • Try to defuse the situation if you are confronted about your breastfeeding
        • Plan a response for if/when you are asked about your breastfeeding
        • Research and remember the laws in your area
        • If you are nervous about asking for a change in your workplace or daycare (e.g. remember:
          • There's power in numbers, others might be concerned
          • They might be more willing to make improvements than you think
    • Legislating Breastfeeding
      • Except for the U.S., all developed countries have laws mandating paid compensation and leave for women after giving birth
      • The Affordable Care Act (ACA) promises these rights to breastfeeding mothers:
        • Employers must provide reasonable break time when breastfeeding employees need to express breast milk for one year after the child’s birth
        • Employers are not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent on breastfeeding
        • Employers must provide a space, other than a bathroom, for employees to express breast milk
        • Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not held to these requirements
      • State laws supplement federal protection
        • Legislation Across America
        • States that allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location
      • Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming
    • States that exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws
      • Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, DC, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming
    • States that have passed legislation for breastfeeding in the workplace
      • Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming
    • States that allow breastfeeding mothers to be exempt or postpone jury duty
      • California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia
    • States that have worked towards developing breastfeeding awareness
      • California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi and Vermont

Knowing your options is the first step towards finding your own breastfeeding style.

  • Learning About Breastfeeding
    • Resources To Learn More
      • Office on Women’s Health (OWH)
        • Many resources including "Your Guide to Breastfeeding"
        • gov
      • La Leche League
        • International group with online, telephone, and in-person help
      • Who To Talk To
        • Doctors and Nurses
        • Lactation Consultants
          • Professionals trained in breastfeeding and can help if you are having problems with it
      • Lactation Counselors and Doulas
        • Trained in teaching breastfeeding
      • Who Else To Talk To
        • Support Groups
          • Talk to other moms and share experiences about breastfeeding and many other parts of parenthood
        • Peer Counselors
          • Communicate one-on-one with another mom that has been taught breastfeeding basics
        • Friends and Family
          • Learn from experiences, ask questions, and feel the support from people that have gone through the same thing

Breastfeeding might not come naturally, you have to learn and practice to get the hang of it, so don't get discouraged! Sources: