Breastfeeding in Public? Returning to Work and Pumping Milk? You are Protected!

Posted by | November 17, 2019 | LENS, Lifestyle, Pregnancy Medicine | No Comments

With ongoing headlines about celebrities being “caught” breastfeeding in public, military moms being fired because of breastfeeding in public, or the occasional news story covering a mom who was asked to leave a store for breastfeeding, making the choice to breastfeed can seem very intimidating. Some of you will contend with outrage from your family, friends or a random person in public who shoots you a look of disdain. However, your baby needs to nurse constantly, and for many breastfeeding moms that is a scheduled time every 2-4 hours. Beyond those first 6 weeks, you are bound to breastfeed in “gasp” public. This may include your car, a restaurant in the mall or grocery store aisle if you can’t get away immediately. Here are some tips for new moms to make the experience less awkward for you or those around you.

  • Become familiar with your local mall, church, or other enclosed area. Many of these places provide a room for nursing mothers.
  • If you are with a group of friends and can’t get away simply announce I need to nurse my baby. This gives anyone who might become offended a chance to walk or look away.
  • Always try to cover yourself. If you don’t have your nursing smock within reach, simply use a baby sheet, or burping cloth to throw over your shoulder and leave a small pocket for baby to breathe.
  • If you don’t have any of these items available, lift your shirt up from the bottom (not the top) to nurse. This provides a cover for the baby and you will have minimal flesh showing.
  • If you are more self-conscious or have the amazing ability to pre-plan your outing, carry pre-pumped milk with you in your diaper bag to bottle feed your baby.
  • If all else fails, you can discreetly cup your hand over your breast and baby’s mouth.I have had the honor of trying all of these methods, which work pretty well.

By using these simple steps you can work your way around the jaw dropping breastfeeding in public conversation.

It is also important to know that you do have the right to breastfeed in public or pump breast milk at work! In most states women may breastfeed in public, without being slapped with indecent exposure citations. However, in any instance know the law of your state and comply with a local law that requires you to show more discretion. The majority of states already protect a woman’s choice to breastfeed, with some state’s providing greater protection for breastfeeding women. Federal Law (Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 (29 U.S. Code 207) requires ALL employers to allow women to have reasonable breaks to pump milk at work for ONE YEAR after the baby’s birth. Yes, you may take a break each time you need to express milk, but it may be unpaid. Additionally, employers are required to provide a space, other than a bathroom stall, for women to pump breast milk, (unless providing a separate space causes an undue hardship to the employer).

Happy Nursing!

Below is list of breastfeeding laws by state. You may obtain this information directly at:

Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”