Breastfeeding in public: know your rights and feed without fear
If you’re a breastfeeding mom then you’ll know that it can be tricky to feed your little one while you’re out and about together, especially the first few times you breastfeed in public. Earlier this year we launched #freethefeed to encourage women to feel comfortable and confident breastfeeding or pumping in public. For World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August) we’re arming you with the facts about your public breastfeeding rights.
First, let’s take a look at the current state of breastfeeding in the UK and US.
Did you know that the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world? Despite having one of the best maternity leave policies and a national healthcare system, just 34% of babies are breastfed at 6 months in the UK.
This compares with a national average of 57.6% of babies breastfed at 6 months in the US. But even then, breastfeeding rates vary hugely across the US: from 39% in Louisiana to 72.7% in Washington.
It is legal to breastfeed in public across the US and in UK.
This includes all public places that you have a right to be, such as parks, public buildings, public transport, as well as shops, restaurants and hospitals, unless there is a legitimate health and safety risk.
Idaho is the only state in the US that does not have laws that explicitly allow breastfeeding in any public or private place, but it is one of 30 states where women are protected from indecent exposure laws while breastfeeding.
Although there are loopholes, where some laws do supersede breastfeeding laws, a woman has never been prosecuted for indecent exposure as a result of breastfeeding in the US.