Thankfully, all 50 states legally allow breastfeeding in public, because federal law requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide breaks and a place to pump that's not a bathroom to hourly employees. But sometimes the details vary on locations and what exactly an employer is required to provide to workers looking to breastfeed or pump on the job. That's why lactation space design company Mamava rated each state on a scale of good to bad when it comes to finding a place to safely and comfortably breastfeed or pump.
Mamava didn't rank the states, instead, it used a rating system to find the absolute best states, the ones that are better than most, and the honorable mentions the next tier down. It's like a five-star scale, but because we're talking about breastfeeding, you don't earn a gold star for good protection for breastfeeding folks out there—you earn a drop of that liquid gold breastmilk.
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Mamava's gold standard for the dream five out of five breastfeeding state would mean "state law protects all working breastfeeding mothers, identifies standards for lactation spaces (e.g., access to a refrigerator), and additional state legislation protects specific populations and mandates lactation accommodations for specific locations," according to the website. Sadly, no states are there yet, but some came close.
California, Illinois, and New York
In these three states, breastfeeding laws go far and beyond the federal level of protection: all breastfeeding employees must be given break time and a non-bathroom space to pump. In New York, these protections stay in place for up to three years after a baby is born, and in Illinois, workers can use paid or unpaid break time for pumping. California requires all employers, regardless of size, to provide lactation spaces.
Better Than Most
Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont
These states also improve the federal standards for working pumping conditions, by keeping breastfeeding breaks going for more than a year after a baby is born (Colorado, Maine, and Vermont) or making sure pumping rooms have the necessities, such as electrical outlets, a table, and a place to sit (Massachusetts).
The runners up include Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. The rest of our 50 states received lower ratings, often for lacking protections for working parents looking to breastfeed in the office.
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You can check your state's exact breastfeeding protections on Mamava's new breastfeeding law tool. Simply select your state (or a state you plan to travel to and breastfeed in) and read up on what you can expect in terms of your rights.