241318 Hooter hiders: Federal, state, and local laws regarding nursing in public

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 1:10 PM

Shelby S. Eidson, JD , Center for Health Policy and Legislative Analysis, The MayaTech Corporation, Silver Spring, MD
Stefanie Winston, JD, MPH , Center for Health Policy and Legislative Analysis, The MayaTech Corporation, Silver Spring, MD
Jennifer Noll Folliard, RD, MPH , Center for Health Policy and Legislative Analysis, The MayaTech Corporation, Silver Spring, MD
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding children for up to 6 months to give children the benefits of breast milk. State and federal laws can either promote nursing or create hurdles for mothers wishing to nurse their children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70 percent of women breastfeed at birth, but less than 20 percent are still exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. Nursing while in a public place enables a mother to care for other children, participate in activities, and carry on her normal routine while still caring for an infant. Some women may not nurse in public for fear of being exposed and then being told to stop or leave by others. While 44 states have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location, only 28 states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. Women may not know how to interpret the law in a state in which women are allowed to breastfeed in public, but they are not exempt from public indecency laws. Mothers may not be able to gage how decent or discreet they are being while nursing their children.

This presentation seeks to explain and describe the ways that laws and official governmental policies may both promote exclusive breastfeeding and create barriers to nursing particularly in public places. Federal, state, and local laws will be explained, including how they interact and sometimes conflict, and how they can be strengthened to promote breastfeeding.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe various state legislative approaches to nursing in public; (2) explain how different types of policy interventions are critical to promoting exclusive breastfeeding; and (3) identify weaknesses in state legislative approaches to promote exclusive breastfeeding.

Keywords: Breastfeeding, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have done the research on state, federal, and local laws on breastfeeding in public and I'm a lawyer barred in two states.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.