Senator Jeff Merkley

    What the New Breastfeeding Law Means for New Moms

    Posted May 27th, 2010 by

    Greetings! The last time I was here blogging at MomsRising I was pushing for a nationwide breastfeeding law to give nursing moms reasonable break time and privacy at work to pump breast milk. I am proud to say that nursing moms now have new breastfeeding protections in place to make life easier for them once they return to work. I want to thank you for your strong advocacy and take a quick moment and give you an update on what this new law means for nursing moms across the country.

    The breastfeeding provision went into effect on March 23, 2010, the day President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, so nursing moms already have access to a more comfortable work environment.  As the Department of Labor develops plans to implement this new law, I stand willing to assist them in any way to ensure that its full potential is realized.

    The new law does these three key things:

    First, it requires employers to provide nursing moms with reasonable unpaid break times to pump breast milk up until the child’s first birthday. It covers “non-exempt” workers, typically hourly workers such as those in the retail, manufacturing and restaurant industries. If you’re eligible for overtime pay, then the law applies to you.
    Second, employers must provide a private space, not just a bathroom, for nursing moms to pump breast milk.

    Third, employers who have less than 50 employees are given the opportunity to file for an exemption to the law if they prove undue hardship. Since passing a similar law in Oregon in 2007, very few businesses have found it difficult to accommodate their employees. The businesses who did find it difficult were able to work with the Oregon of Bureau of Labor and Industries to find a creative solution.

    I pushed for workplace breastfeeding laws in Oregon and at the Federal level because I believe it’s important to give moms the chance to provide healthy breast milk to their babies, even when they’re working full time. Breastfeeding has been proven to help prevent diseases in both babies and moms, while at the same time increasing productivity for businesses. I can’t tell you how gratifying it has been to be part of an effort to promote better health for new moms and their babies.

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    August 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm by Ashleigh

    This new law has helped me alot! At work. Now I think they need to make a law for salery workers, I.also really would like to see something set in place for school from high school up so girls can give their babies the best no mater how old they are.


    June 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm by Kim Porter

    This is great. How about we work on getting longer maternity leaves since it shows that working mom’s who breastfeed before returning to work after maternity leave, stop due to work. Mom’s also miss important milestones and bonding periods with their children. Other countries, such as Canada and UK have 1 yr maternity leave. The US needs to catch up!


    January 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm by Bekah

    Great article! @Natalie- thanks for clarifying. @ Mike- while you may not think it’s a ‘big’ deal for women to have to pump breast milk in the bathroom- how would you like to eat your lunch in the bathroom everyday? Furthermore, for artifically inflating costs- the costs for formula, etc far surpasses the costs related to breastfeeding.


    July 22, 2010 at 9:51 pm by Jenny

    So does this apply to salaried workers too? Does it provide breaks for teachers? I’m going to have a second child and I don’t want to battle like I did for the first child, but I will.


    June 28, 2010 at 5:54 pm by Roxanne

    Mothers and babies across the nation help you. Also, because breastfed babies are healthier, you have helped reduce health care costs. But breastfeeding is not easy and most women need at least a month to get the hang of it and get past the pain… so hand in hand with this bill should be paid family leave.


    Anita Reply:

    @Roxanne – Thanks for your comment and noting the links between these issues. They do go hand in hand.


    June 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm by Mike

    Seriously? Now every business establishment needs to have a breastfeeding room?! Really?! Way to further artificially inflate the cost of construction and development. This is unnecessary and ridiculous.


    natalie Reply:

    @Mike, they don’t have to build a room lol just set aside somewhere private, an office for instance. Breastfed children mostly refuse formula so it is extremely important to have an adequate amount of breastmilk. Breastfeeding mothers also have to consistently pump to continue to produce. So ridiculous it is not by your name im guessing you’ve never breastfed meaning your opinion on the matter isn’t all that informed.


    May 31, 2010 at 10:59 pm by cris

    Thank you, Sen Merkley! There are stars in the sky for you for what you have done for God’s children.


    Anonymous Reply:



    May 29, 2010 at 11:52 pm by Anita

    This is a really helpful post. Thanks for writing it, and for all you have done to for moms.


    May 29, 2010 at 10:30 pm by Donna

    Thanks for your leadership on this issue!



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