Virginia Right to Breastfeed Law
A new VA law went into effect on July 1, 2015 which states: Right to breastfeed in public places. Provides that a mother may breastfeed in any place where the mother is lawfully present.
This is a common sense law that received widespread public support and was passed unanimously by state legislators.
Virginia was one of the last three states to pass a law to protect breastfeeding in public, so this law brings us in line with norms across the country.
This new law means that business and venues may not ask a breastfeeding mother to leave, move to another area, or use a cover.
Interfering with a mother’s right to breastfeed is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries potential penalties of fines and/or jail time, however the goal is to provide education about the new law and resolve any issues before legal action is needed.
FAQ about Breastfeeding in Public
How long do women breastfeed?
Doctors recommend that mothers only give their babies breastmilk during the first six months and supplement breastmilk with food thereafter until at least the first year or for as long as mother and baby want.
Why is it important for women to feel comfortable to breastfeed in public?
It’s important for the breastfeeding dyad to have a place where baby/child can calmly breastfeed, with minimal distractions. This is the best environment to assure that a baby is properly fed.
Why don’t women just breastfeed at home and give the bottle when they go out?
It’s important for young babies to breastfeed frequently in order to keep up their mother’s milk supply. Otherwise, the milk can dry up. Most mothers and babies don’t want to be confined to their homes for six months. So when they leave home, they need to breastfeed so baby has enough milk. That means that public spaces and people should be accepting of mothers breastfeeding in public.
Why shouldn’t women cover up when they’re breastfeeding?
Each breastfeeding dyad (mother and child) will know the best way to breastfeed. Some will feel more comfortable covered while some babies feel uncomfortable being covered. The point is that the breastfeeding dyad should be able to find clean, quiet places to breastfeed in public.
I’m ok with women breastfeeding in public but I think they should cover up.
Not all babies will breastfeed when covered. Some will throw off a blanket or feel hot underneath a cover.
Why can’t she just use a bathroom?
Public bathrooms are unhygienic places to feed a baby.
What should I do if I’m uncomfortable if a woman is breastfeeding in public? Etc.
You can learn about breastfeeding, how good it is for mothers, babies and society, and how it’s important for babies to breastfeed frequently in order to keep up their mother’s milk supply. You can look the other way. You can give the woman an encouraging nod and smile.