Due to significant health benefits for the mother and child, the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend six months of exclusive breastfeeding for all infants. Congress needs to do all it can to support working mothers when they decide to breastfeed.
A study found that the U.S. could save $13 billion per year in unnecessary medical expenses if 90 percent of new mothers nursed their children exclusively for six months. Diseases that would be significantly reduced include: sudden infant death syndrome, gastro intestinal disease related to low birth weight, ear infections, respiratory tract infections, leukemia, and childhood obesity. The study also found that 911 infant deaths per year could be prevented as a result. Returning to an unsupportive work environment has been identified as a major reason for the avoidance or early abandonment of breastfeeding. Workplace support can bridge this gap and help more women balance working and breastfeeding.
Congresswoman Maloney began working on this issue in 1998, when she introduced a comprehensive bill promoting breastfeeding and protecting women who choose to breastfeed. One of the provisions of that bill, which allowed states to spend more money on breastfeeding promotion and support through the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, was enacted into law. In 1999, the right to breastfeed amendment was passed as part of the FY appropriations measures, ensuring a woman's right to breastfeed her child on any portion of Federal property where the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be.
Working mothers’ opportunities to breastfeed were further expanded on March 23, 2010, when President Obama signed parts of Congresswoman Maloney’s Breastfeeding Promotion bill into law as part of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions ensure that employers provide nursing mothers in traditional hourly labor jobs with adequate space and time to pump breast milk during the workday.
The provisions in the Affordable Care Act went a long way to providing working mothers with the opportunity to breastfeed at work, but they still left millions of white collar offices exempt from providing this vital opportunity to their employees. That is why Congresswoman Maloney introduced the Supporting Working Mom’s Act. This bill would require all workplaces, no matter the type of workers, to provide working mothers with the support they need to continue breastfeeding when they return to work.
Many women have been fired or discriminated against for expressing milk during the day in order to keep breastfeeding after returning to work. Some have been harassed on the job, or have had their pay docked because they used their regular breaks or lunchtime to pump milk. These women deserve to have a means of legal recourse to fight this discrimination and continue their right to breastfeed.
More on Breastfeeding
NEW YORK – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined mothers from across New York City for the New York Breastfeeding Caravan to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and raise awareness for mothers’ rights to breastfeed.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) commended U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez for extending overtime protections to 4.8 million workers and in doing so, extending workplace protections to over 1 million breastfeeding women. In their letter to the Secretary, Merkley and Maloney also called on the Labor Department to explicitly outline breastfeeding rights when finalizing the overtime rule so that employers and working mothers are aware of their new rights and responsibilities.
NEW YORK – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today joined breastfeeding advocates, mothers, and the NYC Breastfeeding Leadership Council for their annual Subway Caravan at New York City Hall. The Council presented Maloney with the Breastfeeding Champion 2015 award for her work on breastfeeding rights for mothers.
WASHINGTON, DC-- Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) praised Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s announcement of Obama Administration approval of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommendations on preventive services, which would make breastfeeding counseling and rental of breastfeeding equipment freely available to women who choose to breastfeed.
“I welcome the Surgeon General’s Call to Action and look forward to working with my congressional colleagues to enact common-sense reforms that support nursing mothers and their children,” said Maloney. “Breastfeeding is a highly effective way to promote the health of mother and child and this call to action further underscores the easy steps families, communities, policymakers and employers can take to remove the obstacles to breastfeeding many mothers face. I soon plan to reintroduce legislation that would make it easier for nursing mothers to breastfeed.”
WASHINGTON – Flanked by over 100 breastfeeding mothers and children, U.S. Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) hosted a “nurse-in” today on Capitol Hill to reintroduce their “Breastfeeding Promotion Act” (H.R. 2236 – click here for link to bill). The bipartisan bill would protect breastfeeding mothers from discrimination and encourage new mothers to breastfeed.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, joined by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, and moms who have been fired for breastfeeding on the job, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) announced that she has introduced the Pregnancy Discrimination Act Amendments of 2000. Maloney's bill clarifies the Pregnancy Discrimination Act civil rights law to protect women from job termination or workplace discrimination if they choose to breastfeed or express milk in the workplace.