Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Did You Help Lobby for Better Breastfeeding Laws?

My lactivist friend Raegan nursing
on the Missouri capitol building's steps.
We are seeking stories and resources from people who were on the front lines in lobbying for better breastfeeding laws.

One of the main goals of NursingFreedom.org is to help women advocate for their breastfeeding rights. There are still several states with either no laws protecting breastfeeding mothers and children, or only minimal protection. For example, Idaho, Nebraska, and West Virginia have absolutely no laws protecting nursing in public. Michigan, South Dakota, and Wyoming only exempt nursing in public from public indecency laws. Tennessee limits the protection of nursing in public only to infants younger than twelve months.

We still have work to do in these states, as well as states that do not give full protection for mothers who nurse their children in any public or private location. Please help us provide resources so that our sisters in these states can be educated in their efforts to change the law.

If you have resources - sample letters, reports, studies - anything your state legislature considered when writing your statute, please email it to NursingFreedom (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you have a personal story about the journey to new breastfeeding laws in your state, please contact us. We would love to share your story and experiences with our readers.

If you know someone who could contribute, please share this information with them.

We don't want women to have to reinvent the wheel in their advocacy efforts. Let's learn from each other!

3 comments:

Where do I begin? Yes, I approached a legislator, lobbied, drafted language (got it redrafted), walked the paperwork around to get co-sponsors, lobbied, testified before House and Senate committees, lobbied and stomped my feet to get legislation passed. Washington State now has legislation that makes it a civil right to breastfeed 'anytime ~ anywhere'... this is the short version.

Kim Rechner, RN

I live in Idaho and would love to have some advice on where to start. I am sure there would be a lot of women that I could recruit to help out. Sample letters would be a great beginning. Thanks!

I live in Ohio and wrote to my Representative. She paid a lot of great attention to my letter and started corresponding with me via email and telephone shortly after I sent it. She had a bill written up and sent me the first draft. Here is what my letter said...

Dear Representative Harris:

I hope you take a moment to read the following plea. Breastfeeding mothers of Ohio need your help in protecting lactation (be it nursing or pumping) at work under state law. The benefits of breast milk over formula are well-documented. Breastfed babies have fewer ear and upper respiratory infections, in addition to numerous other bacterial infections. Breastfeeding is also correlated with a decreased risk of developing diabetes and obesity. For the mother, risk of breast and ovarian cancer is decreased. The community also benefits from breastfeeding, as it lessens the demand on such programs as WIC to provide infant formula to women who can not afford to purchase it.

The points mentioned above are all referenced from the American Academy of Pediatrics and can be read in full at the link below:
http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;115/2/496

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months, followed by the addition of solid foods and continued breast-feeding for at least the first 12 months.

However, Ohio has no legislation to protect a working mother's right to either nurse her child or pump breast milk to maintain her milk supply while leaving the child for 8 hours or more per day. This is a natural, healthy, and free way for women to nourish their babies with food that is specially designed for them. It should be constitutionally protected as a basic human right, and not be treated as a choice or a privilege. Breastfeeding women who are not allowed to pump or nurse at work are prone to severe discomfort due to engorgement. They are also more prone to plugged milk ducts, which can lead to the painful breast infection, mastitis. Also, forcing a lactating mother to go several hours without expressing milk will inevitably lead to a decrease of milk production, likely to the point that her supply can not keep up with the infant's demand.

I am grateful to have an employer who will allow me to pump at work, even though it greatly affects our work-flow. However, some mothers are not so lucky. I can't stress enough that a woman shouldn't have to feel "lucky" to be allowed to continue to nourish her baby in the best possible way, while continuing to work and be a productive member of society.

Thank you for your time!

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