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Breastfeeding Promotion Act, continued

The full text of the bill can be read at
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.2758:

The Breastfeeding Promotion Act (H.R. 2758 and S. 1463) would help moms and babies by:

  • Protecting Breastfeeding Under Civil Rights Law. This will ensure that women cannot be fired or discriminated against in the workplace for expressing milk or breastfeeding during lunch or breaks. 
  • Expanding the Breastfeeding Provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Cover Salaried Office Workers. Thanks to Merkley and Maloney’s efforts, the Affordable Care Act amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide mothers who are classified as non-exempt employees with reasonable break times to express milk in a private, non-bathroom environment while at work. The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 would expand this provision to cover salaried employees who work in traditional office environments. The expansion would cover an additional approximate 13.5 million executive, administrative, and professional women in the workplace. 

H.R. 2758 has been referred to House Committee on Education and the Workforce and has seven co-sponsors. S. 1463 was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and has two co-sponsors. Progress of both bills can be tracked at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

It is very important that both bills acquire many more co-sponsors. A House bill needs at least 200 co-sponsors to draw attention to it. Communicating with your congressional representatives is easy and takes only a little time.

Passage of this bill will have a direct effect on breastfeeding mothers, breastfeeding rates, and infant health. This is an upstream intervention that breastfeeding advocates can influence through large numbers of letters being written to legislators asking for co-sponsorship. If any of your legislators are on the committees to which the bills have been referred make sure your letter includes a section asking that the committee report out favorably on the bill.
You can find out who your Senators are and which committees they serve on at  
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?Class=2

You can locate your House representative at http://www.house.gov/representatives/

Sample letter

Dear Representative/Senator xxx,

As your constituent I urge you to co-sponsor the Breastfeeding Promotion Act (H.R. 2758 / S.1463).

Breastfeeding is good for mothers, babies, and society! The medical evidence shows that NOT breastfeeding increases the baby’s risk of infections, diarrhea, SIDS, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and childhood leukemia, and increases the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers and diabetes. A 2009 study of nearly 140,000 women found that women who breastfed for at least one year were 10-15% less likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease compared to mothers who never breastfed.

Breastfeeding also has significant economic and environmental benefits for families, employers, and society. A 2010 study showed that if 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths. Breastfed infants are healthier, so their parents have an almost three-fold reduction in absenteeism from work to care for sick infants. In addition to improving maternal and child health, breastfeeding reduces or eliminates the need to purchase expensive formula, a financial burden to many families during these lean economic times.

Most major medical authorities and governmental agencies (including the Department of Health and Human Services), recommend that babies get no food or drink other than breast milk for their first six months and continue to breastfeed for at least the first one to two years of life. But mothers need more support: only 14.8% of U.S. mothers are exclusively breastfeeding at six months, and only 23.8% are still breastfeeding at one year. The CDC and FDA recently found that 60% of women do not even meet their own breastfeeding goals.

Interest in breastfeeding is at an all-time high: 74% of women breastfeed their infants at birth. But breastfeeding rates drop rapidly after hospital discharge. More than 50% of women with infants less than one year old are in the labor force. Employed mothers are more likely to stop breastfeeding early if they do not receive the support they need at the worksite.

Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands already have enacted various laws protecting breastfeeding mothers, but they are not uniform and most are not comprehensive. The Breastfeeding promotion Act would:

  • Protect Breastfeeding Under Civil Rights Law. This will ensure that women cannot be fired or discriminated against in the workplace for expressing milk or breastfeeding during lunch or breaks. 
  • Expand the Breastfeeding Provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Cover Salaried Office Workers: The Affordable Care Act amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide mothers who are classified as non-exempt employees with reasonable break times to express milk in a private, non-bathroom environment while at work. The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 would expand this provision to cover salaried employees who work in traditional office environments. zThe expansion would cover an additional approximate 13.5 million executive, administrative, and professional women in the workplace. 

Again, I urge you to co-sponsor the Breastfeeding Promotion Act to provide the support mothers need through a unified national policy to keep mothers, their children, and their communities healthy.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

 

FORMULA RECALLS

RESOURCES

Still Selling Out Mothers and Babies: Marketing of Breat Milk Substitutes in the USA
The updated US Country report, published in 2007 for the 25th anniversary of the Code, demonstrates continued Code violations. 68 pages order here