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Breastfeeding Rights

Breastfeeding and expressing milk is protected under state and federal law.

Pumping at work


Federal law

The federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers law requires employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide basic accommodations for breastfeeding mothers at work. These accommodations include time for women to express milk and a space that is:

  • functional for expressing milk

  • shielded from view

  • free from intrusion

  • available as needed, AND

  • NOT a bathroom.

Note: Employers are not required to pay nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide paid breaks, the employer must pay an employee who uses those breaks to express milk.


For more information or to file a complaint, call 1-866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit

Did you know that all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location? 

That means that no one has a right to ask a mom to leave, stop breastfeeding, cover up, or go to another location like a restroom to breastfeed.


You can look up your state’s laws at the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

  • The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act or "PUMP Act"  was signed into law on December 29, 2022, extending federal protections for time and space to pump at work to millions more workers. Find out more here.
  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act gives workers the right to receive reasonable accommodations, like light duty, breaks, or a stool to sit on, for pregnancy, childbirth recovery, and related medical conditions, including lactation, unless it would be an undue hardship on the employer. Find out more here.
  • Returning to work after having a baby can be challenging, especially if you are breastfeeding, chestfeeding, or pumping milk. This guide will help you make a plan to take care of your lactation needs at work. It explains your legal protections and gives you practical tips for how to talk to your boss about changes you may need at work.

State Law

States that have laws about breast milk expression at work can offer more, but never less, protection for employees than the federal law.

  • Ohio and Kentucky have no additional workplace protection laws.

  • Indiana has a law that says women who work for state and political subdivisions be provided reasonable, paid breaks to express breast milk.

"Yeah, but there's no way it can happen where I work."

We hear you, but you might be surprised what people can think up.

  • Not everyone works in an office, and there are solutions for different work settings. You might find something that works for you or gives you an idea about what could.

  • Your workplace might already have a plan! Ask your coworkers, manager or HR.

  • Talk with other parents that have worked about what they did, and check out the Cincinnati Children's blog post here.

Learn more

  • ​Nursing moms often have many questions about how to continue breastfeeding when they return to work. Read the Office of Women's Health frequently asked questions about breastfeeding at work, including how to talk to your supervisor about your needs and where to find resources and support.

  • Ohio Workplace Plus- Employee Guide PDF Mothers everywhere have found that they can continue to give their babies important health benefits even after they return to work.  This booklet will help you take those first steps back to your working life.

  • Cincinnati Children's has Health Topics about Returning to Work with some more great ideas.


Did you know that women with children are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce?  Learn how to support and keep your valuable employees.

Balancing work and family is an important priority for all employees. Today, more than 80% of new mothers in the United States begin breastfeeding, and 6 in every 10 new mothers are in the workforce. On the Supporting Nursing Moms at Work page, you can learn federal rules and requirements for employers about breastfeeding and lactation at work, and see success stories from all types of industries, including restaurants, retail, manufacturing, and more. Ohio Department of Health has a toolkit to help employers support their employees.


The federal government has resources to help employers know what they are responsible for and ideas on how they can follow the law.  The Business Case for Breastfeeding is a comprehensive program designed to educate employers about the value of supporting breastfeeding employees in the workplace.

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