You Have the Right To Breastfeed
A mother has the right to breastfeed, whether or not there is a law. However, we now have laws in all 50 states, including Maryland, to clarify that right and protect those who breastfeed from being told to stop nursing in public.
Breastfeeding in Public
Maryland law states:
"A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location in which the mother and child are authorized to be.
A person may not restrict or limit the right of a mother to breastfeed her child."
This means that no one should be telling parents who are breastfeeding that they
need to go to a specific place to do so, that they need to cover up, or that they may not do so at all (Md. Code Ann §11-211).
If you experience a situation in which your right to breastfeed is challenged, you can
report noncompliance with the Maryland law to the Maryland Attorney General's
Consumer Protection Division by calling 410-528-8662. You can also file a complaint by
e-mail to Consumer@oag.state.md.us , or online at www.oag.state.md.us/consumer.
Tax-Exempt Breastfeeding Supplies
Many supplies used by nursing parents are tax free under Maryland law. (Md. Code §20-801). Exempt breastfeeding supplies include breast pumps, breast pump collection kits, breast shells, breast shields, Supplemental Nursing Systems (SNS), feeding tubes, breast milk storage bags, finger feeders, and purified lanolin.
Breastfeeding and the Workplace
Federal law protects a parent's right to pump milk upon returning to work. The law requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a space, other than a bathroom, for an employee to express milk for that person's infant up to one year after the child’s birth. Your employer is not required to pay you during pumping sessions. Be sure to speak with your supervisor about the amount of time you’ll need to pump your milk, where you can do so, how it can fit into your workday schedule, and how you can make up any extra break time that you take. Federal law allows small employers (those with fewer than 50 employees) to apply for an exemption to this requirement, but the employer must show that the requirement results in hardship to the company. The employer is not exempt until approval from the federal government has been received. Note: All employees who work for the same company within a 60-mile radius are counted toward the total number of employees for that company. -Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (P.L. 111-148); PUMP Act for Nursing Mothers (S. 1658/ H.R. 3110)
If you believe that your employer is not following the break time for nursing mothers requirement, you can call 1-866-487-9243. You will be directed to the nearest Wage and Hour Division office for assistance. You can also contact either of the following for more information:
- Center for Work Life Law
- A Better Balance