Breastfeeding laws

What moms need to know

August is National Breastfeeding Month. To raise awareness, All the Moms has compiled a list of breastfeeding rights that nursing mothers absolutely need to know.

It turns out that MANY moms aren’t aware of the protections in place for them.

According to a survey by Byram Healthcare of a thousand mothers, 82% of American mothers-to-be are unaware of the three main rights guaranteed to them by the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”.

And in 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 83% of American mothers had tried breastfeeding at least once.

So when the majority of mothers try to breastfeed but don’t know their rights, it’s time to state the laws.

First things first: you can breastfeed anywhere, anytime

Breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. This happened recently when Utah and Idaho finally legalized it.

In some states, you can get an exemption or deferment from jury duty

Seventeen states have laws regarding nursing mothers who are called upon to serve as jurors. Some include the ability to defer for a year; some include the right to exemption. You may need to submit a letter requesting these options and wait for approval. Be sure to check your state specific laws.

Protections under the Affordable Care Act:

1. Breast pump costs are covered free of charge by insurance

Check with your insurance company to find out what type of breast pump is covered by your plan.

Health insurance plans are required to cover the price of a breast pump (which can cost a few hundred dollars). Insurance companies are, however, allowed to choose the types (electric, manual, or rental) and brands they cover. And while you can order your pump as soon as you know your due date, the insurance company can choose when you’re allowed to receive it. (It’s usually closer to your due date.) Learn more here.

2. The costs of lactation consultants are also covered

Just like breast pumps, any type of “breastfeeding support, advice and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding” must be covered by insurance. This includes meetings with lactation consultants who are part of your insurance network, counseling for things like domestic violence, and screening for gestational diabetes. Learn more here and here.

Under the Affordable Care Act, mothers have certain breastfeeding rights.  Make sure you know yours.

3. Employers must give nursing mothers pumping breaks

The “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law, enforced by the US Department of Labor, states that for one year after the birth of a baby, an employer is required to give the mother time and space to pump.

Employers aren’t required to pay mothers while they pump or breastfeed, but they are required to provide a private space that isn’t a bathroom (how generous, isn’t it? ) so mothers can do it.

That is, unless the employer has less than 50 employees and it is an undue burden on the business. These companies can get away with it. For answers to your frequently asked questions, click here.

Important note for “grandfather” insurance plans:

If you have coverage through an employer, Human Resources will be able to tell you whether or not your plan is grandfathered. If so, your insurance company may not be required to comply with coverage requirements under the ACA. Learn more about grandfathered plans here.

Curious about the benefits of breastfeeding? Look at this:

To find breastfeeding laws by state, go to the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

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