Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Breastfeeding Laws

Today, with less than 10 weeks to go ('til due date, anyway), I was thinking about the simple act of grocery shopping with a breastfed infant who suddenly decides they want to eat. You know, hypothetical (though possible!) mothering situation. When I get good, I might be able to discretely nurse in a sling or front pouch, but until both of us are well practiced, I think I might have to go back to the shoe department and find a quiet corner to sit, cover up, and nurse my baby. Suddenly, I imagined store staff haranguing me, asking me to leave, or sending me to the changing rooms or (worse) bathrooms. Agh!

So, in order to avoid this terribly stressful situation, I just googled "public breastfeeding laws Alaska." This site not only has my state, but all others too, so I quickly learned what my legal rights are as a breastfeeding mother:

Alaska Stat. § 29.25.080 (1998) and § 01.10.060 prohibits a municipality from enacting an ordinance that prohibits or restricts a woman breastfeeding a child in a public or private location where the woman and child are otherwise authorized to be. The law clarifies that lewd conduct, lewd touching, immoral conduct, indecent conduct, and similar terms do not include the act of a woman breastfeeding a child in a public or private location where the woman and child are otherwise authorized to be. (SB 297)

Although I wish the wording were not quite so explicit, it is very reassuring to know that anywhere my baby and I are allowed to be not breastfeeding, we are allowed to be breastfeeding. Plus, I can't be arrested for "indecent conduct" if a rogue wind carries off the blanket covering us! Whew.
So glad that hypothetical situation is solved. On to the next one!


  1. This is helpful to know! I'm in Pennsylvania and I'm due in a few weeks with my first. I hope that I don't have any trouble nursing in public!

  2. We nursed for 19 months so be encouraged that it can be done! Granted, after about 14 months we substantially reduced the number of nursings as he ate more food, to the point that the last few months were only a few nursings a day and didn't have to be done in public ever, but initially, I was definitely a breastfeeding in public mama!

    My tips:
    When they're really little and nursing a lot, if going to, say the grocery store, I frequently tried to top off my little guy in the car before I went in. It's a bit less stressful as you're in a comfortable, private, warm (or cool, depending on the season) location, and made for a happy little shopper. I normally used a sling while shopping with him and, since he wasn't hungry from the topping off, he didn't normally want to nurse even though he was right on my chest.

    I always had a little baby blanket in my bag. I made mine out of 100% cotton flannel or sheeting (depending on the season) in 45"x45" size which fold up really small (they are then large enough to cover you and the baby sufficiently, plus can be used for swaddling if needed. A lot of baby blankets are too small or irregularly shaped for breastfeeding, or extra puffy so they don't pack down small enough for easy carrying. Just a tip!). A girlfriend of mine also swore by her breastfeeding cover - a few brands include "Hooter Hider" and "Modest Mums" but the style is quite similar. I'm thinking about picking one up for this pregnancy because once my little guy was four months and older he became more curious and grabby and I sometimes worried that the blanket might slip.

    If you do have to nurse in public, and there isn't a ladies lounge or anything around, try to find a place with a chair or bench. Even if you just go sit in a patio chair in the gardening center or a bench in the shoe department, you will be more comfortable and at ease. Just pop the baby on, adjust your cover and smile at your little one. If anyone looks at you quizzically, smile first, and then, if they smile back, you've got a supporter. If they look askance, stare them down as if you are personally affronted that they would stoop to suggest that you should feed your child anywhere else. Like a bathroom. Do they eat lunch in a bathroom stall? No. You are not going to feed your immune-suppressed tiny baby in one either, thank you very much.

    As long as you are modest, (and I've personally cringed at blatantly immodest breastfeeders, though accidents do happen sometimes with grabby babies) and calm, you will be fine. You are doing the best thing for your baby! Nurse away!


  3. I love your comic strip! Where did you find it?

  4. Hey, I have some ideas for you. Just a few things that I learned with Canaan. And I have a book recommendation. Have you ever heard of BabyWise? It is great on getting your little one to sleep thru the night, even when breastfeading. It worked great for us. I'll write you an e-mail soon! We love you both! Take care of yourself this Christmas!

  5. i'm glad to hear all your research is paying off in making you feel more um, . . . "sane?" hope things are going well, like your new pic on facebook. i'm a BIG breastfeeding advocate, and la leche league leader, so i love hearing other moms being excited and preparing for a life of breastfeeding baby. love hearing all your "natural mama" research! let's see some more belly pix!!! if you feel comfortable showing off your belly you should DEFINITELY get some maternity photos to capture this time (even if just James takes them). . . . it's so fun to look back on!

    oh, and check into baby wearing, i don't remember if you mentioned that in your post, but a sling is the easiest sneakiest place to nurse a baby in public without anyone being any the wiser and you still have two hands free to do whatever you were doing. . . so for instance, going into the grocery store. .. don't take that silly carseat in, just put baby in a sling. . . you live in a somewhat chilly place right?! so wearing baby will keep you both warm. . . alani is 2 1/2, i still wear her a TON!!! LOVE IT!!!

  6. hey andrea,
    send me an email mctimbra@hotmail.com, i know you've sent me one before and i thought i'd saved your email address, but apparently not. thanks for the comments today. quickly, i think that the mei tai is a great long term solution. the other is getting 5 yards of a semi stretchy fabric and the book "baby-gami" and making your own wraps/slings. but i do love the mei tai. alani never did like the sling, we started her out in the baby bjorn and then when he was too old for it to matter, i found out that those aren't really meant for babies befre 6 months because of their contributing to hip displasia. if you can get in touch with some of your LLL local leaders, they may have slings, maya wraps and mei tais for sale, so basically the same price, but you get a chance to support LLL because a little of the money goes to them. . . anyway, email me, we can "talk shop" on all sorts of parenting, food, lifestyle, breastfeeding stuff, etc. love timbra

  7. December 2nd? I for seriously need to pay more attention to your blog. I wonder if I can subscribe to it somehow... hmmm.
    Oh, btw, I think the IL laws are exactly the same. And I love the cow comic.


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