Your Breastfeeding Rights

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Breastfeeding at the Hospital

Other than a medical emergency, these rights should never be ignored.

  • Your baby should ALWAYS be allowed to stay with you after birth, and you SHOULD hold your baby skin to skin the 1st hour after delivery.
  • Your baby can stay with you 24 hours a day and breastfeed at any time.
  • Your healthcare facility should provide a trained professional for help and information.
  • You may demand that your baby not receive pacifiers, formula, or any bottle feeding.
  • You should be made aware of and allowed to refuse drugs that may
  • affect your milk.
  • Even if your baby requires special care, the hospital must make every attempt to help you continue your breastfeeding efforts and provide your baby with pumped breast milk.
  • You can continue breastfeeding, even if your baby is in the neonatal unit.

Breastfeeding after the Hospital

After discharge, your rights to breastfeed and to receive helpful information about breastfeeding should not be overlooked.

  • You may request more information about breastfeeding experts, support groups, and breast pumps in your community.
  • If you require a second stay, after your first delivery stay, you have the right to continue your breastfeeding efforts with the hospital’s full support.
  • In South Dakota, the law allows a mother to breastfeed in any private or public places as long as she is obeying other state or local laws.
  • The law also prohibits local governments from banning breastfeeding in public places.
  • All employers are required by federal law to provide hourly employees with reasonable break time and space to express breast milk for 1 year after the child’s birth.

Breastfeeding at Work or School

Expressing breast milk when you are away from your baby helps:

  • Give you more milk for your baby
  • Keep your milk supply up
  • Make your breasts feel more comfortable
  • Prevent breast infections
  • Keep your breasts from leaking
  • At first, express every 3 hours when away from baby
  • A key is to always pump at least the same number of times your baby feeds while you are apart.

Create a routine that gives you maximum comfort and efficiency.


  • Breastfeed baby right before you go to work and as soon as you return home.
  • Express/pump milk at baby’s normal feeding times.


  • Two-piece outfits make pumping easier.
  • Choose clothing that can hide evidence of leaks.
  • Wear nursing pads; keep extras at hand.
  • Comfort is key.
  • Bring a blanket if you get easily chilled.


  • Make yourself as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
  • Looking at pictures of your baby can help you relax and start milk flow (let down).
  • Use a private space with a lock (e.g., an office).

Health and Safety

  • Wash your hands before pumping.
  • Wash pumping equipment and bottles after each use.
  • Consider buying 2 sets of pump parts to save time on washing during the day.
  • Store milk appropriately.

Breastfeeding in Public

One of the most common reasons why women avoid breastfeeding is fear of embarrassment. Many women are concerned about other people seeing their breasts. And men worry too! But breastfeeding does not have to be embarrassing! There are ways to nurse your baby confidently and confidentially in public.

First, keep in mind that the federal law is on your side! Public nursing is a civil right protected by law. A breastfeeding mom may nurse her baby anywhere that a mother is entitled to be.

Breastfeeding is important!

Tips for Nursing in Public

  • Dress for nursing success! Two-piece outfits, shirts that button, lift up, or pull to the side easily, or tops with hidden flaps will give your baby easier access and offer you more privacy.
  • Practice at home first! Before heading out, have your baby latch while you watch in a mirror. You may even want to have your partner or a friend watch.
  • Put a blanket, shawl, or poncho over your shoulders so that it drapes over your baby’s head. Or try letting your baby nurse from a sling if you are comfortable wearing one.
  • Scout out places to nurse before you need them. Find a quiet spot, such as a corner or dressing room in a store or a table in the back of a restaurant. Many public places have special nursing rooms…just ask!
  • If you would rather people did not know you’re nursing, look up! Chances are, people will think your baby is sleeping!
  • Try to nurse your baby before he/she cries from hunger. Often it is the crying that makes people turn and look.

This post was last updated on July 21st, 2020 at 11:07 AM

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