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Breastfeeding Laws For US and Canada

Image: Primo Bebitza Modal Nursing Shawl | blanket is hands-free and that you can maintain sight of your infant

Primo Bebitza Modal Nursing Shawl
Click for more info: US | CA | UK

Have you ever wished there was an accurate up-to-date website, listing all the breastfeeding laws and their provisions for enforcement - all in one place?

Image: breastfeeding law | think you know what your rights breastfeeding rights are?

The breastfeedinglaw.com website, with comprehensive listings of US breastfeeding laws, just opened it's doors! Now you can have all the information about your local laws about breastfeeding in public - both federal and state by state - at your finger tips!

Not only does each State's page have the most current legal info on breastfeeding within that state, you will also be able to share your own experiences of breastfeeding or pumping in that state, and read the experiences of other mothers who live and breastfeed under their laws.

I couldn't find anything similar for Canada, so I went on the hunt for the Canadian breastfeeding laws.

Here is what I found:

Canadian Federal Laws and the Right to Breastfeed

When asked about the issue of breastfeeding in public in Canada, breastfeeding support groups typically point to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (comparable to the U.S. Bill of Rights). The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees gender equity, and it is on that clause that most breastfeeding rights advocates hang their hat.

Breastfeeding Laws in British Columbia and Ontario

On the provincial level, only two provinces have laws that protect a woman's right to breastfeed. British Columbia and Ontario have been pioneering their way in breastfeeding rights. In these provinces, not only is a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere at any time protected, it is also illegal to ask the mother to be discrete. The Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia states it this way, Nursing mothers have the right to breastfeed their children in a public area, and it is discriminatory to ask them to cover up or breastfeed somewhere else.

According to the Ontario Human Rights Coalition, women have the right to breastfeed in public. No one should disturb or request they cover up, or be more discreet.

Accordign to the Infant Feeding Action Coalition (INFACT) of Canada, a non-governmental advocacy organization, women are protected against discrimination on the basis of sex, and considers breastfeeding and pregnancy to be covered by that provision.

Source: Breastfeeding Laws and Nursing Rights in Canada

Image: Baby Bond Couture Nursing Sash/Belly Band | Maintain eye contact and interact with baby

Baby Bond Nursing Sash
Click for more info: US

Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding:

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) developed a Policy on Discrimination Because of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding (PDF document) which further explains the law and its interpretation and implementation. It clarifies that the protections for pregnancy include the post-natal period, which includes breastfeeding. The policy statement elaborates:

You have rights as a nursing mother. For example, you have the right to breastfeed a child in a public area. No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to cover up, disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more discrete.

Read More: Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding

Your right to breastfeed anywhere, anytime is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

Know your rights!

In Canada each province and territory has a Human Rights Code. These codes protect women from discrimination on the basis of sex. To date, only Ontario and British Columbia specifically detail the rights of breastfeeding feeding mothers. These provisions include time, access and accommodation in the workplace and in public. Ontario has also has a policy on Discrimination Because of Pregnancy. Other provinces should take note.

Federally, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms also affords some protection. Section 15(1) states as follows:

Image: MoBoleez Camo Baby Breastfeeding Hat | Hat for baby, nursing cover for mommy

MoBoleez Breastfeeding Hat
Click for more info: US | CA | UK

  • Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.

  • To ensure that women receive full benefit of all Charter guarantees, gender equality is also enshrined in Section 28 of the Charter.

  • Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

Source: Your right to breastfeed anywhere, anytime is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Returning to Work: Breastfeeding and The Law:

In addition to the potential benefits, workplaces must support breastfeeding to stay in compliance with the law. The Ontario Human Rights Commission states, Women cannot be discriminated against in any way because they have chosen to breastfeed. The employee and the employer need to collaborate on the arrangements to permit the mother to breastfeed upon her return to work (PDF, page 6 of 27).

The Commission goes on to say that Employees who require breaks, such as for pumping or breastfeeding, should normally be accorded those breaks, and not be asked to forgo normal meal breaks as a result, or work additional time to make up for the breaks, unless the employer can show undue hardship (PDF, page 9 of 27).

Source: Returning to Work: Breastfeeding and The Law

Image: ORGANIC NursEase Breastfeeding Shawl | Complete front and back coverage, elastic top for easy viewing, stylish trim, cute pocket for pacifier or breast pad and side slit

NursEase Breastfeeding Shawl
Click for more info: US | CDN | UK

Do You Need a Nursing Cover-up to Breastfeed in Public?

Personally, I think it is easier and less obvious to nurse in public without a cover-up. If you practice in front of a mirror you may be able to breastfeed without showing any skin.

Image: Milkmade Nursing Cover | Peek-a-boo flap makes it easy for mom and baby to see each other while nursing, which fosters a strong bond. Mom chooses if baby's face is shaded

Milkmade Nursing Cover
Click for more info: US

But if that doesn't make you comfortable, and your baby is willing to be covered up, there are a wide varieties of cover ups available. Which one is your favourite?

  • Milkmade Nursing Cover
  • My Brest Friend Nursing Cover
  • Hooter Hiders Nursing Cover
  • Baby Blinds Breastfeeding Cover
  • Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover
  • Balboa Baby Nursing Cover
  • MoBoleez Camo Baby Breastfeeding Hat
  • Baby Bond Couture Nursing Sash/Belly Band
  • Jolly Jumper Pashmama Nursing Cover
  • Kushies Nursing Canopy
  • Huggabee Nurse Me - Nursing Cover
  • Udder Covers
  • ORGANIC NursEase Breastfeeding Shawl
and many more!

 


This article compliments of Born to Love.


 

Other articles that might be of interest:

• Just 27 of the Many Reasons Why Born to Love Supports Breast-feeding!
• Overcoming Difficulties - Michael's Story
• Breast-Milk: The White Blood - Immunicological Benefits Don't Suddenly Stop
• The Disadvantages of Breast-Feeding - (a satire)
• Joshua's Story - The Child Who Could Not Eat!
• OH, Gosh! They Are Debating About ME!
• Low Supply Concerns - Is this a growing modern-day problem?
• Breastmilk vs. Formula Debate
• The Value of Baby Carriers in Today's Society
• A Baby Cries: How Should the Parents Respond?
• Ten Good Reasons to Sleep Next To Your Child
• The Family Bed: A Personal Perspective

 


Send questions, comments, and suggestions to: catherine@borntolove.com

Born to Love articles are written by

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Last updated - February 8, 2017