The barriers to breastfeeding

Emilie Ritter Saunders of Boise State Public Radio had a great piece today that explored reasons why Idaho is number one in breastfeeding rates.


As a new mom who is nursing, I’ve taken a crash course in the last three weeks on how difficult (and painful, and inconvenient, and time-consuming) breastfeeding can be. Any barrier threatens to derail well-intentioned plans to nurse.

And there is a major barrier to breastfeeding that is unique to Idaho. Idaho is one of two states that doesn’t legally protect mothers who breastfeed in public and/or exempt  breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (West Virginia is the other.) If I were to nurse my baby at a store or restaurant in Boise, and if an employee asked me to leave or nurse in the bathroom, I’d have no legal backing to say no, regardless of how well my baby and I were covered up with a blanket. (Idaho does have one breastfeeding law on the books — nursing moms can get out of jury duty.)

As keen as Idaho is on the rights of business owners, I don’t imagine that will change any time soon. Just know that if I’m nursing my son in public, I’m not trying to make a political statement, and you probably won’t find me at any latch-on events like the one Saunders wrote about. I only need to feed my kid.

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