Breastfeeding Rights in Oregon

Breastfeeding in public:

I am passionate about breastfeeding and children having the right to their basic needs being met, and preserving a woman’s right to feed her child, anytime, anywhere whether it is from a bottle or directly from her body as nature intended.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of life and the World Health Organization recently increased its recommendation to breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life. How most people obtain their education on the subject these days is through commercial advertisement. Most recently formula companies have been promoting formula for toddlers which mimic breast milk because even they know extended breastfeeding has benefits to the child.

So what does breastfeeding have to do with the law? The media has thrown some attention to mothers who breastfeed in public and brought attention to extended breastfeeding which is nursing beyond the first year. Everyone I encounter on this subject has an opinion one way or another as to whether breastfeeding should be visible in public and when a mother should stop breastfeeding her child, and on occasion, whether a child should be breastfed at all. Well in Oregon, the law is pretty clear; mothers have the right to breastfeed their own children in public. See ORS 109.001. There is no requirement for mothers to “cover up” or shield their breastfeeding from public view.

If you or someone you know has been asked to stop breastfeeding in a public place, or asked to leave an establishment because you were feeding your child, we want to help.

Expressing breast milk at work:

Likewise for breastfeeding mothers, returning to work can be complicated and challenging. Leaving an infant or young child for long periods of time can disrupt a healthy breastfeeding relationship without careful planning, and the support of partners, childcare givers and employers. Oregon laws on expressing breast milk at work are intended to ease this transition for mothers and encourage breastfeeding for at least 18 months.

Oregon employers that meet certain criteria under ORS 653.077 must provide a time and place for mothers of children under 18 months of age to express breast milk at work. At toilet stall or lavatory is not an acceptable place to express breast milk. In general, a woman has the legal right to pump at work if her employer:

• Employs 25 or more employees in the state of Oregon;
• Those 25 employees work each working day for at least 20 working weeks in which rest periods are taken; and
• Is given reasonable notice of the employee’s intention to express breast milk at work.

If you need advice about your particular breastfeeding experiences, contact us for a free consultation.