Breastfeeding and the Law

Breastfeeding promises many health benefits for mom and baby, but it can be really challenging at times. So, support — in all forms — from education to effective nursing equipment to workplace privacy is truly important in helping mothers breastfeed comfortably during the first year. Recognizing this, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) — the health insurance reform legislation signed into law in 2010 — includes two major provisions that support mothers and breastfeeding. Do you know what your rights are?

Coverage of Lactation Support & Breast Pumps

First, the ACA requires non-grandfathered health plans to cover women’s preventive services at low or no cost. So, you no longer pay a co-payment, co-insurance, or deductible for lactation support services and breast pumps. The provision reads: “Pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment.” It’s important to note, however, that each insurance plan can interpret how it implements this provision. Meaning, the insurer can determine the specific lactation support, services, pumps, and supplies covered. Make sure to consult your plan to find out the scope of your ACA breastfeeding benefits. To help, here’s a cheat sheet so you know what questions to ask your health insurance provider:

1.  Pumps:

  • What type of pump can I get?  (Hospital grade rental pump, double or single personal use electric, manual pump)
  • Do I need a prescription for proof of medical necessity for a hospital grade rental pump?
  • Can I select the brand?
  • Do I need approval prior to obtaining the pump? Are there specific providers that I need to obtain it from (in-network vs. out-of-network)?

2.  Lactation Consultation:

  • Are there approved providers (in-network vs. out-of-network)?
  • Is there a limit on the number of visits that I can receive per year?
  • Where can I receive my consultation (in home vs. in office)?
  • Can I get reimbursed for out-of-network services?

Reasonable Break Time & Private Lactation Room

Additionally, the ACA amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 and requires employers with 50+ employees to provide reasonable break time for employees and a private, non-bathroom space so nursing moms can express breast milk for one year after their child’s birth each time she needs to pump. (Keep in mind that your employer is not required to compensate you for this time.) Read more to see if you will be covered in your workplace when you return to work, here. And check out the relaxing room for nursing mothers that Jessica Alba designed here at Honest:

Honest Lactation Room

Breastfeeding in Your State

Beyond federal law, women are protected (in most states) and legally allowed to breastfeed children in public. Unfortunately, many people don’t know this and it might explain why we often see news stories about “nurse-ins” after a woman has been asked to leave a public place due to breastfeeding her child.  Here are some interesting facts:

  • Forty-six states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, 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, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.)
  • Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, 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.)
  • Twenty-five states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.)
  • Sixteen states and Puerto Rico exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty or allow jury service to be postponed. (California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Virginia.)
  • Five states and Puerto Rico have implemented or encouraged the development of a breastfeeding awareness education campaign. (California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Vermont.)

For additional information on breastfeeding laws and how you can benefit check out the links below: