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
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.