Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Breastfeeding Mothers' Bill of Rights

Last year, New York signed into law the Breastfeeding Mother's Bill of Rights. It should be considered in states across the nation, especially in light of the Surgeon General's quest to increase the number of breastfeeding moms in the nation. The rights are categorized by time: Before Delivery, At the Maternal Health Care Facility, and After You leave the Maternal Health Care Facility.

Highlights are:

1. For pregnant mothers to receive information about breastfeeding free of commercial interests 2. To receive information about the benefits at the beginning of prenatal services and facility services specifically:

  • How breastfeeding benefits you and your baby nutritionally, medically and emotionally;

  • How to prepare yourself for breastfeeding; and

  • How to understand some of the problems you may face and how to solve them.

3. To start breastfeeding within an hour after birth, regardless of delivery method.

4. To know and refuse any drugs that cause your milk to dry up.

5. You have the right to have a sign on your baby’s crib clearly stating that your baby is breastfeeding and that no bottle feeding of any type is to be offered.

When I had my first child I was not given most of the rights afforded by this bill. I did have a CSection so holding the baby within an hour was certainly (24 years ago) against the rules. Formula was pushed as the norm not the other way around. I don't remember receiving any education about breastfeeding - just being asked if I decided. How can a 20 year make an informed decision when you don't have information? I do however remember the gift bag of Enfamil given to me during the stay and the case of prefilled bottles given to me at discharge.

Fast forward more than 22 years later, and many things haven't changed. Literature from formula companies are still dispersed at ob/gyn offices and formula is still given to even moms who have chosen to breastfeed.

Parents - what has been your experience?

There are more rights you can read at New York's Breastfeeding Bill of Rights.

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