Breastfeeding Laws & Regulations

Read the information below for a summary of the Federal and North Carolina laws that protect breastfeeding. For more detailed information, including links to the specific laws, visit the National Conference of State Legislature’s website.

Insurance coverage of breastfeeding related services and supplies

The national breastfeeding regulations of the Affordable Care Act took effect in August of 2011. This law mandates group insurance policies provide coverage of “comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment”. Click here to read more about this law. NCBC encourages all breastfeeding families to reach out to their insurance providers for more information. The National Women’s Law Center has an easy-to-use toolkit to help you understand your coverage under the new law. Click HERE to view the toolkit.

Workplace regulations

The Affordable Care Act also mandates that employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk.  Employers that employ fewer than 50 employees must prove an undue hardship from complying with the law in order to be exempt from this law. They are not automatically exempted.  Furthermore, these requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees. See the FAQ page for specific questions and answers that may help clarify.

For North Carolina State employees, the Office of State Personnel has a detailed lactation policy that can be viewed HERE. This policy provides for designated space and paid break time for expressing breast milk for employees governed by the State Personnel Act.

The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) maintains a very helpful information page on workplace support for breastfeeding in federal law including common Q&A’s. 

Breastfeeding in Public

North Carolina law states that “…a woman may breastfeed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.” This means that a breastfeeding mother is not in violation of indecent exposure laws. Click here to read the N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9 (1993).

An older law signed in 1999, Public Law 106-58, refers specifically to breastfeeding on Federal Property: Section 647 states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a Federal building or on Federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.”
Click for more information from NCBC about breastfeeding in public.

Child Care Regulations

The North Carolina Child Care Rules state that “Accommodations for breastfeeding mothers shall be provided that include seating and an electrical outlet, in a place other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view by staff and the public, which may be used by mothers while they are breastfeeding or expressing milk.” Click HERE to see the regulation on page 44 section J, and page 63 item G. North Carolina Child Care Rules apply to all licensed child care providers. Find out if your child care provider is licensed by clicking HERE.


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