The breastfeeding mom's bill of rights
- If you have a right to be somewhere with your baby, you have a right to breastfeed there. It's the law, says La Leche League International. While there are a few places, such as courtrooms, where babies aren't permitted, you can legally nurse in most public places - stores, restaurants, parks, and malls.
- You have a right to ask for pumping accommodations at work. Some states require that workers be given break time and a space to pump that isn't a bathroom stall. The key to successful pumping at work is clear communication with your supervisor. Ask for a room with a lockable door, a place to sit, and an electrical outlet for the pump.
- You have a right to breastfeed for as long as you see fit. That could be well into toddlerhood for some kids. In fact, breastfeeding until kids are 3 or 4 is common in other countries. Do what you feel is best for your child, and try to ignore any criticism from others.
Where to get help
Call your doctor with any concerns regarding breastfeeding. Other helpful resources:
La Leche League International has long been a trusted resource for nursing moms. Its website provides a city-by-city directory of lactation support groups and volunteers, forums for online chats, and info on state breastfeeding laws.
The International Lactation Consultant Association's site allows you to find a certified lactation consultant in your area.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to start your lifelong bond with your child, and it has benefits for both of you. Keep in mind, though, that the choice of whether to nurse or use formula is totally up to you. If you do decide to breastfeed, be patient and get help if you think your baby isn't latching on properly. As you and your baby get used to the process, you'll get into a rhythm that's right for both of you.