A mother has the right to breastfeed wherever she goes with her baby, whether or not there is a law. However, we now have laws in most states, including Maryland, to clarify that right and protect mothers from being told to stop breastfeeding in public.
If you experience a situation in which your right to breastfeed is challenged, you can report noncompliance with the Maryland law to the Maryland Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. The Consumer Hotline is 410-528-8662. You can also file a complaint by e-mail to Consumer@oag.state.md.us , or online at www.oag.state.md.us/consumer .
Federal law protects a mother’s right to pump milk upon returning to work. This law requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a clean, private space, other than a bathroom, for employees to express milk for their infants up to one year after each child’s birth. Your employer is not required to pay you for time used to express milk. Be sure to speak with your supervisor about the amount of time you’ll need to pump your milk, where you can do so, how it can fit into your workday schedule, and how you can make up any extra break time that you take. Federal law does allow small employers (those with less than 50 employees) to apply for an exemption to this requirement, but the employer must show that the requirement results in hardship to the company and must receive approval from the federal government in order to be exempt.
If you believe that your employer is not following the break time for nursing mothers requirement, you can call 1-866-487-9243. You will be directed to the nearest Wage and Hour Division office for assistance.
Effective 8/1/12 the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands health plan coverage to include breastfeeding support and supplies. Coverage will vary among insurance plans, so check with your insurance policy handbook or call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card to find out the details of your benefits. If checking about breast pumps, talk with a Lactation Consultant before calling your insurer, to find out which pump is best for your situation, especially if your baby is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or you plan on returning to work and will need to pump on a regular basis to build up or maintain your milk supply.
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