Breastfeeding Laws by State

As nursing mothers can attest, babies need to eat whenever they are hungry. Nursing a baby becomes complicated after maternity leave. Many women return to work with little lactation support or reasonable accommodations to pump breast milk.

Breastfeeding is an essential aspect of women's health and healthcare. Women who pump milk throughout the day experience extreme discomfort if there are delays in their pumping schedule. This can include plugged ducts, painful enlargement of their breasts, or other related medical conditions.

Breastfeeding is vital to public health because of the benefits of breast milk. Babies receive all the nutrients they need to stay healthy from breast milk. Fortunately, breastfeeding in public is now protected at the federal and state levels.

This article will provide a brief overview of federal laws that cover breastfeeding rights. Often federal laws provide a template for state law. This article will also take a look at state laws that protect nursing mothers.

A Quick Glance at Federal Breastfeeding Laws

Federal law provides protections for breastfeeding employees. Yet, they do not preempt state laws with more generous provisions. On Dec. 29, 2022, the PUMP for Nursing Mothers ACT ("PUMP Act") became law. This law extended protections for nursing mothers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

FLSA requires employers to provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers. FLSA protects nursing mothers for up to one year following their child's birth. Under the PUMP Act, nursing mothers can nurse as often as needed. Employers must provide nursing mothers with a private location, other than a bathroom or toilet stall, to pump breast milk.

Many employers create lactation rooms on their worksites for this purpose. If any employer cannot create a lactation room, a private room must be available whenever the nursing mother needs to pump. It must be "shielded from view and free of any intrusions." This private space should also include electrical outlets for a breastfeeding person to use a breast pump machine.

Under the PUMP Act, there is no rule to pay for break time to pump breast milk. But, if the employer offers paid break time, they must similarly compensate nursing moms. They must also be relieved from work while pumping. Historically, employees took unpaid breaks to pump breast milk.

The PUMP Act applies to all employers subject to the FLSA. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may apply for an exemption if this act causes undue hardship. If an employer does not follow these laws, the breastfeeding person can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor has provided more information via a fact sheet and through frequently asked questions. Federal law exempts mothers from federal jury duty under the Breastfeeding Mothers Jury Duty Exclusion Act of 2019.

State Breastfeeding Laws at a Glance

A local department of health may offer resources such as breastfeeding support or lactation support. Below is a state-specific guide to basic breastfeeding laws. This includes protections for breastfeeding in public and exemption from state jury duty. Most state laws offer a statutory right to public breastfeeding and/or an exemption to indecency laws for nursing mothers.

Dashes (-) in the chart below mean there is no available state law addressing the specific issue, but that may not mean the exemption does not exist through a different statute. You should contact a family law attorney for the most accurate analysis of breastfeeding laws in your jurisdiction.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

 

Laws Specifically Allowing Public / Private Breastfeeding Exemption from Indecency Laws? Exemption / Postponement of Jury Duty?
Alabama  § 22-1-13: A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present.

-

-
Alaska  § 29.25.080: A municipality may not enact an ordinance that prohibits or restricts a woman from breastfeeding a child in a public or private location where the woman and child are otherwise authorized to be.

Yes

-
Arizona  § 41-1443: A mother is entitled to breastfeed in any area of a public place or a place of public accommodation where the mother is otherwise lawfully present. - -
Arkansas  § 20-27-2001: A woman may breastfeed a child in a public place or any place where other individuals are present.

Yes

-
California

Civ Code § 43.3: A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.

-

Yes
Colorado

§ 25-6-301: A mother may breastfeed in any place she has a right to be.

-

Yes
Connecticut

§ 53-34b: No person may restrict or limit the right of a mother to breastfeed her child.

-

Yes
Delaware

Tit. 31 § 310: A mother shall be entitled to breastfeed her child in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother is otherwise permitted.

- Yes

District of Columbia

 Gov. Code § 2-1402.81: A woman shall have the right to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where she has the right to be with her child, without respect to whether the mother's breast or any part of it is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding of her child.

Yes

-
Florida

§ 383.015: A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

Yes Yes
Georgia  § 31-1-9: A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.

-

Yes
Hawaii  § 489-21: It is a discriminatory practice to deny, or attempt to deny, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodations to a woman because she is breastfeeding a child. - Yes
Idaho  § 18-4101: Although the statute doesn't provide an affirmative defense of breastfeeding, it is not considered "indecent exposure" to nurse a child or express breast milk for the purpose of feeding a child.

Yes

Yes
Illinois

§ 137/10: A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding; however, a mother considering whether to breastfeed her baby in a place of worship shall comport her behavior with the norms appropriate in that place of worship.

Yes

Yes
Indiana  Section 16-35-6-1: Notwithstanding any other law, a woman may breastfeed her child anywhere the woman has a right to be.

-

Yes
Iowa  § 135.30A: A woman may breastfeed the woman's own child in any public place where the woman's presence is otherwise authorized. - Yes
Kansas  § 65-1,248: A mother may breastfeed in any place she has a right to be. - Yes
Kentucky  § 211-755: A mother may breastfeed her baby or express breast milk in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. Yes Yes
Louisiana  Title 51, § 2247.1: It is a discriminatory practice for a person to deny an individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement, on the grounds of race, creed, color, religion, sex [including nursing mothers], age, disability, or national origin.

Yes

-
Maine  Title 5, § 4634: A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. - -
Maryland

Health-General § 20-801: 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.

-

Yes
Massachusetts  111 § 221: A mother may breastfeed her child in any public place or establishment or place which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public and where the mother and her child may otherwise lawfully be present. No person or entity, including a governmental entity, shall, with the intent to violate a mother's right, restrict, harass or penalize a mother who is breastfeeding her child.

Yes

-
Michigan

§ 41.181: Public nudity does not include ... a woman's breastfeeding of a baby whether or not the nipple or areola is exposed during or incidental to the feeding.

Yes

Yes
Minnesota

§ 145.905: A mother may breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

Yes

-
Mississippi  § 17-25-9: A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, without respect to whether the mother's breast or any part of it is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

Yes

-
Missouri  § 191.918: A mother may, with discretion, breastfeed her child or express breast milk in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.

Yes

Yes
Montana  § 50-19-501: A mother has a right to breastfeed the mother's child in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present, irrespective of whether or not the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding. Yes Yes
Nebraska

§ 20-170: Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.

- Yes
Nevada  § 201.232: A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding. Yes Yes
New Hampshire  Section 132:10-d: Breastfeeding a child does not constitute an act of indecent exposure and to restrict or limit the right of a mother to breastfeed her child is discriminatory. Yes -
New Jersey  § 26:4B-4/5: A mother shall be entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement wherein the mother is otherwise permitted.

-

-
New Mexico  § 28-20-1: A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present. - Yes
New York

Civil Rights Law § 79-e: A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

Correction Law § 611: If any woman, committed to any such correctional institution at the time of such commitment is the mother of a nursing child in her care under one year of age, such child may accompany her to such institution if she is physically fit to have the care of such child.

Yes

Yes
North Carolina

§ 14-190.9: A woman may breastfeed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

Yes

-
North Dakota  § 23-12-16: If the woman acts in a discreet and modest manner, a woman may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the woman and child are otherwise authorized to be. Yes Yes
Ohio  § 3781.55: A mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother otherwise is permitted. - Yes
Oklahoma  Tit. 63, § 1-234: A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. Yes Yes
Oregon  § 109.001: A woman may breastfeed her child in a public place. - Yes
Pennsylvania

Tit. 35 § 636.1 et seq: A mother shall be permitted to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present, irrespective of whether or not the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

Yes Yes
Puerto Rico 24 L.P.R.A. § 3518: A mother breastfeeding her child in any place, whether public or private, where she is otherwise authorized to be, shall not be deemed as indecent exposure, obscene act, or other punishable action. Puerto Rico does allow exemptions for jury duty for nursing mothers. Yes Yes
Rhode Island

§ 23-13.5-1: A woman may feed her child by bottle or breast in any place open to the public.

In any civil action alleging a violation of this chapter, the court may:

  1. Afford injunctive relief against any person, entity, or public accommodation that commits or proposes to commit a violation of this chapter; and
  2. Award compensatory damages and reasonable attorney's fees and costs to a prevailing plaintiff.

Yes

-
South Carolina  § 63-5-40: A woman may breastfeed her child in any location where the mother and her child are authorized to be.

Yes

Yes
South Dakota  § 22-24A-2A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present as long as the mother is in compliance with all other state and municipal laws.

Yes

Yes
Tennessee  § 68-58-101 et seq: A mother has a right to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present.

Yes

Yes
Texas  Health and Safety Code § 165.002: A mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.

-

Yes
Utah  § 17-15-25: The county legislative body may not prohibit a woman's breastfeeding in any location where she otherwise may rightfully be, irrespective of whether the breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

Yes

Yes
U.S. Virgin Islands 14 V.I.C. § 1022: A woman breastfeeding a child in any public or private location where the woman's presence is otherwise authorized does not under any circumstance constitute obscene or indecent conduct. No law on jury duty exemption for breastfeeding mothers. Yes No
Vermont  Tit. 9, § 4502 (j): A mother may breastfeed her child in any place of public accommodation in which the mother and child would otherwise have a legal right to be.

-

-
Virginia  § 2.2-1147.1: A woman may breastfeed her child at any location where that woman would otherwise be allowed on property that is owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth.

Yes

Yes
Washington

§ 49.60.30(g): The right of a mother to breastfeed her child in any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement [is recognized as and declared to be a civil right].

Yes -
West Virginia  §16-1-19: A mother may breastfeed a child in any location open to the public.

Yes

Yes
Wisconsin  § 253.165: A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breastfeeding her child, direct a mother to move to a different location to breastfeed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breast-feeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breastfeeding her child as provided in this section. Yes -
Wyoming  § 6-4-201: The act of breastfeeding an infant child, including breastfeeding in any place where the woman may legally be, does not constitute public indecency. Yes -

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Know Your State's Breastfeeding Laws? Get Legal Help

Nursing mothers have an affirmative right to breastfeed their children wherever they choose. This is as long as it's a place they are otherwise allowed. But breastfeeding laws vary by state in how they're worded and enforced.

If you have a legal dispute that involves breastfeeding, consider speaking with a family law attorney in your area.

 

Was this helpful?

Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Parental liability laws are different in every state
  • Liability cases are complex and a skilled attorney is essential
  • Establishing or terminating parental rights will involve a court process

An attorney can help protect your rights after your child’s negligent or criminal acts. Many attorneys offer free consultations.

Find a local attorney

Don't Forget About Estate Planning

If you are in the midst of a parental rights or liability case, it may be an ideal time to create or change your estate planning forms. Take the time to add new beneficiaries to your will and name a guardian for any minor children. Consider creating a financial power of attorney so your agent can pay bills and make sure your children are provided for. A health care directive explains your health care decisions and takes the decision-making burden off your children when they become adults.

Start Planning