You Have The Right To Breastfeed Your Baby

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN | Updated/Verified: Mar 23, 2023

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

Mississippi 23.9 %
Louisiana 31.2 %
Kentucky 35.3 %
Alabama 35.8 %
West Virginia 35.8 %
Indiana 37.7 %
Oklahoma 37.9 %
Arkansas 39.5 %
Delaware 40.6 %
Tennessee 42.5 %
Ohio 43.8 %
South Carolina 44 %
Texas 46.5 %
Florida 47.3 %
North Carolina 47.5 %
Pennsylvania 47.6 %
Georgia 48.9 %
Nevada 49.5 %
Nebraska 50 %
Kansas 50.5 %
New Mexico 51.1 %
North Dakota 51.5 %
Michigan 51.6 %
Illinois 52.5 %
New Jersey 52.6 %
Iowa 52.9 %
South Dakota 53.4 %
Arizona 54.8 %
New Hampshire 54.8 %
Virginia 55.2 %
Connecticut 55.3 %
New York 55.8 %
Rhode Island 56 %
Missouri 56.6 %
Washington DC 57.4 %
California 58.5 %
Wisconsin 58.9 %
Montana 59.3 %
Wyoming 59.5 %
Maine 61.1 %
Alaska 62.1 %
Washington 63.7 %
Vermont 64.6 %
Hawaii 65.3 %
Idaho 65.4 %
Minnesota 65.9 %
Colorado 66.2 %
Maryland 66.5 %
Massachusetts 67.9 %
Oregon 68.2 %
Utah 70.4 %
  • 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:

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