One of the things I love about New York* is our very sensible and protective breast feeding law. In New York state, a mother has the right to breast feed her child, covered or uncovered, in any place that she and the child are legally allowed to be. Yes, that includes private clubs, restaurants, stadiums, libraries — everywhere!
Nursing moms, know your rights! This is a clear case where knowledge really is power.
I have heard too many stories of women being told they can’t breastfeed in a certain location, or almost as bad, sequestering themselves to an uncomfortable (or even unhygienic — public bathrooms, ICK!) location for fear of offending someone or breaking some rule. Moms, you are empowered to calmly inform any person who bugs you that your right to breast feed right where you are is protected under New York law.
Every time I bring this up to nursing moms who are nervous about where they can nurse, I am met with surprised expressions. This has spurred me to action. To help make moms feel more confident about this and provide a visual aid to assist them, I created these breast feeding cards:
Whenever I’m in conversation with a fellow nursing mom, I bring up the law and hand them a couple of cards so they can spread the word. If they feel shy about standing up for themselves (which is an understandable feeling when your breasts are exposed), they can keep calm, nurse on, and let the card do the talking. I printed these cards up on regular paper and laminated them, so they are water and milk resistant. And I deployed them to moms in my MOMS Club, my lactation consultant, my midwives, and my hypnotherapist to share with any mom who needs them.
If you would like a Word version of the card (eight cards per page, as shown above) to personalize and print yourself, shoot me an email at hello at patricia shepard dot com. I’m also happy to mail you some laminated cards.
To learn the law in every state, check out the Breastfeeding Law website. This great, comprehensive site was the first place I stopped when I researched the law in New York. Know your rights, but don’t stop there — spread the word! As moms, let’s look out for each other and support each other!
*I must note, one of the things I do not love about our breast feeding law is that it lacks an enforcement provision. This means the law doesn’t state a way that violators can be punished. In effect, it makes it a law with no teeth. I cannot imagine a situation where a woman informing the violator of the law and standing her ground would not yield the right result. But maybe I overestimate people (though I hope not). In any event, the New York Civil Liberties Union may be able to help women whose right to breast feed has been violated. Check out their site here.
PLEASE NOTE: NOTHING IN THIS POST (or anywhere else on patriciashepard.com) SHALL BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. For more information, go to my Disclaimer page.