What does the Law say about Breastfeeding in Public?

doula biermanMany of you have heard me teach about how the law protects breastfeeding moms and babies in the state of Georgia. Some of my recent students asked me about where they could find the law. The suggestion was made that you make a sign with the law – perhaps laminate it and carry it in your diaper bag so that if you are stopped and asked to not nurse in public you could whip it out and enlighten those who were ignorant and give them the facts. So, here you go!


“Health professionals and public health officials promote breastfeeding to improve infant health. Both mothers and children benefit from breast milk. Breast milk contains antibodies that protect infants from bacteria and viruses. Breastfed children have fewer ear infections, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and have diarrhea less often. Infants who are exclusively breastfed tend to need fewer health care visits, prescriptions and hospitalizations resulting in a lower total medical care cost compared to never-breastfed infants. Breastfeeding also provides long-term preventative effects for the mother, including an earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight, reduced risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer and osteoporosis. According to the New York Times, approximately 70 percent of mothers start breastfeeding immediately after birth, but less than 20 percent of those moms are breastfeeding exclusively six months later. It is a national goal to increase the proportion of mothers who breastfeed their babies in the early postpartum period to 75 percent by the year 2010.

Forty-one states, including Georgia, allow a mother to breastfeed in any location where she is otherwise authorized to be, provided that she acts in a discreet and modest way. ”

Ga. Code § 31-1-9 (1999, 2002)
allows a mother to breastfeed in any location where she is otherwise authorized to be, provided that she acts in a discreet and modest way. (Act 304; SB 29) The statute was amended in 2002 to add that the breastfeeding of a baby should be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health. (2002 SB 221)

Ga. Code § 34-1-6 (1999) allows employers to provide daily unpaid break time for a mother to express breast milk for her infant child. Employers are also required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the workplace for this activity. The employer is not required to provide break time if to do so would unduly disrupt the workplace operations.

So there is the law- unfortunately we fought to have the words discreet and modest removed – and I had thought they were – but there it is in the law. Yuck- words that are too subjective for my thoughts- but there none the less.

And disrupting your workplace operations is another one of those phrases… so if a worker goes downstairs to step outside to smoke- is that disruptive? I do think that is subjective but would be hard to prove to be a problem. So- if you were able to take a break at all it should be allowed to be one where you could pump.

This could easily fit on a card and slide into your diaper bag. Shoot perhaps we need to put it on a small chain around the strap of the diaper bag like those formula ads that show some safety tips.