Starting Sunday, R.I. will allow breastfeeding in public7:11 AM Fri, Feb 27, 2009 PermalinkFelice Freyer Email
A new state law that takes effect Sunday allows women to breastfeed or bottle-feed their babies in public places. An earlier law exempted breastfeeding mothers from indecent-exposure laws. The new law goes a step further and explicitly allows breastfeeding in public. Forty-one other states have similar laws.
"There is a long history of women being asked to leave public places to cover themselves up or to stop breastfeeding," says Erin Dugan, breastfeeding coordinator at the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Breastfeeding protects mothers and babies from numerous health problems and can lower the baby's risk of obesity later in life. But breastfeeding is a demanding endeavor. An infant needs to eat eight to 12 times every 24 hours, and the mother needs to feed her baby whenever the baby is hungry to maintain her milk supply.
That's why public breastfeeding is necessary, Dugan says. "We want to normalize breastfeeding in Rhode Island," she says.
Under the new law, if a person or business attempts or plans to bar breastfeeding, a woman can obtain a court order to prevent future violations and also can get compensation and attorney's fees.
The Health Department has been notifying business organizations about the new law and has fact sheets to help guide employers.
Well, it's about time! http://www.health.ri.gov/family/breastfeeding/laws.php