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Breastfeeding Bill of Rights For New York?

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Update on December 11, 2006: I just got an email from State Senator Liz Krueger, saying she found this post on my blog. She wrote, “I wanted to thank you for helping spread the word.”
I’ve breastfed The Bear all over New York City. We’ve done it in Central Park, playgrounds and restaurants. Today alone, I breastfed in a coffee shop, during a kiddie music class and at a preschool meeting. In general, I’m shy. But with breastfeeding, I just don’t care. If The Bear is hungry, I’m not going to make him wait.
So I’m fortunate that New York has a law that allows a mom to breastfeed in any public or private location. But according to State Senator Liz Krueger, it’s time for New York to take things one step further. (Thanks to Tanya of The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog for pointing this one out). Krueger has introduced a bill she’s calling the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Bill of Rights.
The Press Release outlines these objectives:
Before You Deliver: The right to information free from commercial interests, which provides the nutritional, medical and psychological benefits of breastfeeding; An explanation of some of the problems a mother may encounter, and how to avoid or solve them.
In the Maternal Healthcare Facility: The mothers’ right for her baby to stay with her after delivery to facilitate beginning breastfeeding immediately; to insist the baby not receive bottle feeding; to be informed about and refuse any drugs that may dry up breast milk; 24 hour access to the baby with the right to breastfeed at any time.
When You Leave the Maternal Healthcare Facility: The right to refuse any gifts or take-home packets, distributed by the maternal healthcare facility, that contain commercial advertising or product samples; access to breastfeeding resources in one’s community.

Sounds like a good idea if you ask me. When The Bear was born in a New York City hospital, I had a strange experience the second night we were there. The nurse wouldn’t let me take him out of the nursery because he had been having a spitting up problem and they wanted to keep an eye on him. I was fortunate that they were exceptionally vigilant, but I also felt compelled to feed him after a certain number of hours had passed. I asked the nurse if I could sit in the nursery to feed and she said that wasn’t possible. I don’t remember the reason she gave. I waddled back to my room, determined to make a stink if they didn’t let me have him within the hour.
Quite honestly, I wish I could remember how this situation resolved itself. Chalk it up to post-partum fuzz. I think I eventually demanded that they let me have him. I knew it was important to keep feeding him regularly, and I was confident (second child) that I would be able to rush him back if there was a real problem.
Krueger’s bill could have helped in this area since it would require “24 hour access to the baby with the right to breastfeed at any time.” But let’s be real, the burden would still fall on moms to speak up. That’s what we as moms do after all. We advocate for our kids. It’s a life long enterprise. And it starts on day one.
Nevertheless, if you live in New York, let Senator Krueger know that you support her. Give her office a call.



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