Lactation and the Law






Project Licensure

Our Mission:                                                      

1. Achieve licensure for the IBCLC in Massachusetts.
2. Achieve insurance coverage for clinical lactation services provided by the IBCLC.

Please sign our petition in support of House Bill 1151, calling for licensing of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) in Massachusetts!  Licensure of IBCLCs will provide more equitable access to skilled lactation care for all Massachusetts families.

breastfeeding in public

Commonwealth of  Massachusetts, General Laws, Part I, Title XVI, Chapter 111, Section 221: Breastfeeding in a public place

Section 221. (a) A mother may breastfeed her child in any public place or establishment or place which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public and where the mother and her child may otherwise lawfully be present. 

(b) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the act of a mother breastfeeding her child, and any exposure of a breast incidental thereto that is solely for the purpose of nursing such child, shall not be considered lewd, indecent, immoral, or unlawful conduct. 

(c) No person or entity, including a governmental entity, shall, with the intent to violate a mother's right under subsection (a), restrict, harass or penalize a mother who is breastfeeding her child. 

(d) The attorney general may bring a civil action for equitable relief to restrain or prevent a violation of subsection (c). 

(e) A civil action may be brought under this section by a mother subjected to a violation of subsection (c). In any such action, the court may: (i) award actual damages in an amount not to exceed $500; (ii) enter an order to restrain such unlawful conduct; and (iii) award reasonable attorney fees. 

(f) A place of religious instruction or worship shall not be subject to this section.

massachusetts paid family medical leave

WE DID IT! As of November 22, 2017, the statewide petition turn-in deadline, we have collected 133,970 signatures for Paid Leave for all families in Massachusetts - well beyond the required 64,750!  

On June 28, 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that will help every new child get a good start in life. Starting in 2021, the paid leave program will allow every family to take twelve weeks off of work to care for and bond with a new baby.

Thank you to everyone who collected, sorted, drove, and leant a hand to make this effort possible!


Massachusetts Employee Rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law enforced by the U.S Department of Labor to help “balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families,” according to the DOL. This law entitles covered employees for up to up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the birth and care of a newborn child, or the adoption or foster care of a child.

FMLA only applies to certain employers, including private-sector employers with 50 or more employees;
public agencies, including local, state, or federal government agencies, regardless of the number of employees it employs; or public or private elementary or secondary schools, regardless of the number of employees they employ.

In some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced-schedule basis, effectively increasing the number of work days covered, though the total number of work hours remains capped at up to 12 weeks.

Depending on the terms and conditions of the employer's leave policy, employees may choose, or employers may require, that FMLA leave run concurrently with accrued paid leave (such as sick or vacation leave) to cover some or all of the FMLA leave period.

When an employee returns from FMLA leave, he or she has the right to his or her original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Employees are also entitled to the same group health insurance coverage they would have had they not taken FMLA leave.

The Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MLLA) entitles eligible female employees to no fewer than eight weeks of unpaid leave to give birth or for adopt a child under the age of 18. In certain circumstances, MLLA and the FMLA will overlap. For example, a female employee who takes a leave for the purpose of caring for a newborn or adopted child will expend eight weeks of MMLA concurrently with her FMLA leave. She will then have four weeks remaining of FMLA leave.

Other times, MMLA will entitle employees to leave time in addition to FMLA leave. For example, if an employee takes 12 weeks of FMLA leave for a purpose other than birth or adoption of a child, she will still have the right to take eight weeks of maternity leave under the MMLA, according to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).

pumping and the workplace

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which became effective March 23, 2010 amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide a nursing mother reasonable break time to express breast milk after the birth of her child.  The law is enforced by the United States Department of Labor (DOL).

The Law:

An employer shall provide to employees (who are not exempt from the FLSA):

•Reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk  for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk; and

•A place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

Massachusetts Workplace Breastfeeding Rights: 

No specific law at the state level.

the affordable care act

In addition to the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law, the Affordable Care Act also requires insurance providers to cover certain preventive services, including breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling, at no cost to you.

Insurers are required to provide comprehensive lactation support and counseling, by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, and costs for renting breastfeeding equipment, such as a breast pump.

Plans cannot charge a patient a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible for these services when they are delivered by a network provider (and plans must offer a network provider). If an insurance company doesn’t have anyone in network to provide lactation counseling, women must be able to get these services out-of-network without out-of-pocket costs. 

The National Women’s Law Center has published a toolkit to help moms understand the coverage of breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling in the health care law and offer tools for women who encounter problems securing this coverage.

You may contact the Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner if your insurer fails to comply with  the law.:
Print out and fill out or fill out online the Massachusetts Insurance Complaint Form. Fax, email or snail mail
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation DIVISION OF INSURANCE 1000 Washington Street • Suite 810 • Boston, MA 02118-6200 (617) 521-7794 • FAX (617) 753-6830 • Toll-free (877) 563-4467 •