Assembly Panel Advances Democrat-Sponsored Measures to Support Breastfeeding Mothers

Legislation Sponsored by Assembly Members Timberlake, Jasey, McKnight & Mukherji

Assembly Democrats have taken action to support breastfeeding mothers in both the workplace and certain healthcare facilities with legislation that would protect them from discrimination and require hospitals and birthing centers to offer lactation consultations. The Assembly Women and Children Committee advanced both measures on Monday.

One of the measures (A-795), sponsored by Assemblywomen Britnee Timberlake, Mila Jasey and Angela McKnight, would protect breastfeeding mothers from discrimination in the workplace by clarifying protections under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The bill would provide that an employer be required to accommodate a lactating employee for as long as the employee desires. This includes providing them with reasonable break time, job restructuring, a modified work schedule and access to a private location, other than a restroom, to pump milk.

Another measure (A-821), also sponsored by Assemblywomen Timberlake and Jasey, along with Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, would require hospitals providing inpatient maternity services and licensed birthing centers to offer lactation consultations for every patient who has given birth. Under the bill, any woman who has given birth at the hospital or birthing center should be offered at least one in-person, one-to-one consultation with a lactation consultant before being discharged or, if requested, a remote consultation at a later date.

The counseling required by the bill would include:

  1. Breastfeeding education and support services;
  2. Advocacy for breastfeeding as the norm for feeding infants and young children;
  3. Breastfeeding support and encouragement to help the person who has given birth meet their breastfeeding goals;
  4. The implementation of a lactation care plan for the provisions of lactation education;
  5. Recommendations on assistive devices; and
  6. The distribution of informational literature on breastfeeding.

Upon committee approval for the bills, Assembly members Timberlake (D-Essex, Passaic), Jasey (D-Essex, Morris), McKnight (D-Hudson) and Mukherji (D-Hudson) released the following joint statement:

 

 “Despite the fact that breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for infants and mothers, research shows that many mothers either never breastfed their babies or stopped breastfeeding earlier than they intended to due to lack of guidance on how to breast feed. The unanticipated problems in the workplace, such as lack of reasonable, private accommodations for lactation, also add to the reasons why more mothers do not continue to breast feed when returning to work.

“With these bills, we can help many mothers overcome these difficulties by ensuring that they have access to valuable lactation consultations and, for the many women who don’t have the luxury of staying home with their newborn babies, a workplace that will offer new mothers the time and space they need to provide for their young ones.”