A Guide to Breastfeeding in NYC

A Guide to Breastfeeding in NYC
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A Guide to Breastfeeding in NYC

Everybody knows that motherhood is a full-time job. Whether you’re working from home or are out and about in the city, we know that taking care of your young children will always take first priority. We also know that babies require a special kind of care that isn’t always made as convenient as it should be.

For those of you who are currently or will be breastfeeding in the near future, we’ve compiled a guide of everything you need to know as a nursing mother in NYC.

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If you’re a working, nursing mother, you’ve probably heard of the PUMP Act.

This 2022 law provided several updates to the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law, which has required since 2010 that employers nationwide provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom space for lactating employees to pump milk during their workday.

The PUMP Act almost completely closes the coverage gap that left 1 in 4 women of childbearing age without federal protection of their right to break time and a private space to pump during the workday.

It expands the legal right to receive pumping breaks and private space to nearly 9 million more workers, including teachers, farmworkers, and many others. It also makes it possible for an employee to file a lawsuit against an employer that violates the law.

Workplace Rights

In addition to the PUMP Act, New York has its own protections for breastfeeding moms. In NYC, all employers are required by law to allow parents reasonable time and space to pump or express breast milk for at least three years after they give birth.

A lactation space must be a sanitary, private place that is other than a restroom. It should include an electrical outlet, a chair, a surface on which to place a breast pump and other personal items, and nearby access to running water.

Employers with at least four employees are required to have a clear and accessible workplace lactation policy that describes accommodations and how employees can request them. They must also provide a refrigerator for employees to store breast milk.

Nursing in Public

New York State law allows people to breastfeed in any public place at any time. This right exists regardless of whether or not the nipple of the breast is covered during breastfeeding.

Still, many mothers are hesitant to breastfeed in public even with the law on their side. A social stigma still unfortunately exists against public nursing that can make moms feel self-conscious when publicly feeding their baby.

But as more and more moms get comfortable with public nursing, the stigma starts to ease.

Stephanie Sosnowski, the treasurer and acting corresponding secretary of the New York Statewide Breastfeeding Coalition, says, in her opinion, the social stigma on breastfeeding in public appears to be decreasing.

“With more and more mothers choosing to directly breastfeed or chestfeed or pump, mothers seem to be more comfortable being out and about and feeding their babies,” Sosnowski says. “And there doesn’t seem to be as much ‘mommy bashing’ if she chooses to formula feed, for whatever her reasons may be.”

But if you still prefer privacy, know that there are several options for private lactation spaces in the city.

For example, Mamava Pods can be found sprinkled throughout NYC, including at the Bronx Zoo, JFK Airport, and various museums. If you are really one to plan ahead, a mobile locator app can be found here

Back in 2016, the DeBlasio administration took steps to make the city more friendly to nursing mothers.

Many government-affiliated buildings became equipped with lactation rooms, such as buildings belonging to the Human Resources Administration, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Administration for Children’s Services. A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Support for Nursing Moms

There are many support groups in NYC for breastfeeding mothers. La Leche League Of New York has several support groups throughout the state, including multiple in NYC. These groups provide education and information to nursing mothers and are open to the public.

Sosnowski says that these groups can provide much-needed community and support for new mothers when they begin their breastfeeding journey.

“Getting used to nursing in public when you are with other new mothers going through the same experience can make it easier to do when they are out somewhere else on their own,” Sosnowski says.

To find a group nearest to you, visit the LLL of New York guide page.

There are also countless lactation consultants available in the city. These are licensed breastfeeding experts who can both advise you on the best breastfeeding practices and connect you to a nursing support group best suited for your needs.

To find a lactation consultant, visit the New York Lactation Consultant Association website. You have the option to search through available consultants by both location and accepted insurance.