August is National Breastfeeding Month! To spread awareness, All the Moms compiled a list of breastfeeding rights that nursing mothers should absolutely know.
Turns out, MANY mamas aren't aware of the protections put in place for them.
According to a Byram Health Care survey of a thousand mothers, 82 percent of expectant U.S. moms don't know the main three rights guaranteed to them under the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare."
And in 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 83 percent of U.S. mothers tried breastfeeding at least once.
So when the majority of mothers try breastfeeding but don't know their rights, it's time to lay out the laws.
First off: 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. That happened recently when Utah and Idaho finally legalized it.
In some states, you can get exemption or postponement from jury duty.
Seventeen states have laws addressing breastfeeding mothers who are called to jury duty. Some of them include the ability to postpone for a year, some include the right to exemption. You might have 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 (aka Obamacare):
1. Costs of breast pumps are covered through insurance at no cost
Health insurance plans are required to cover the price of a breast pump (which could cost a couple hundred dollars at the store). Insurance companies are allowed, however, to choose to 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). Read more here.
2. Costs of lactation consultants are covered too
Just like breast pumps, any type of "breastfeeding support, counseling and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding" must be covered by insurance. This includes meetings with lactation consultants who are within your insurance network, counseling for things like domestic violence and screening for gestational diabetes. Read more here and here.
3. Employers must provide breaks for nursing mothers to pump
The "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law, enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, mandates that for one year after a baby's birth, an employer is required to give the mother time and space to pump.
Employers are not required to pay mothers while they pump or breastfeed, but they are required to provide a private space that is not a bathroom (how generous, right?) for mothers to do so.
That is unless the employer has fewer than 50 employees and doing so would pose an undue burden on the company. Those companies can get out of it. For answers to your frequently asked questions, click here.
Important note for "grandfathered" insurance plans:
If you receive insurance through an employer, Human Resources will be able to tell you if your plan is or is not grandfathered. If it is, then your insurance company may not have to comply with the coverage requirements under the ACA. Learn more about grandfathered plans here.