Legislation requiring public facilities and offices to provide on-site lactation rooms was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy Thursday.
The legislation requires the New Jersey Department of Health to provide information about lactation room availability and the New Jersey Department of Education to provide information on lactation policies in schools.
Primary sponsors of the legislation include two Newark lawmakers representing the 29th District - Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin - who both have young children.
"By providing information on a woman’s right to breastfeed in public and creating a lactation room in certain buildings, we can empower New Jersey mothers to feed their children as they see fit,” Ruiz said.
"Wherever they are, new mothers deserve a safe space where they can choose to nurse or express milk," said Ruiz. "Breast milk offers enormous health benefits to the development and growth of a child and we should encourage women who choose to nurse in any way that we can.”
"While women should be able to nurse their babies publicly, some women prefer to do it in a more quiet setting,” Pintor Marin said. "This new law will provide women with the convenience of a private room at a public facility where they can nurse and still be able to accomplish their task.”
Murphy said the law breaks down barriers to breastfeed and empowers New Jersey's mothers.
“Building a stronger, fairer, and healthier New Jersey begins with unwavering support for our mothers and families, including providing access to private, clean, and safe spaces for nursing,” Murphy said.
First Lady Tammy Murphy said the law continues to build on the Nurture NJ campaign efforts to ensure equitable maternal and infant care to all women and children.
“By providing private and accessible space for nursing mothers, we are encouraging those who can breastfeed to do so as long as they can,” the First Lady said.
The law requires certain public facilities to make at least one lactation room available upon request to any mother utilizing on-site services, including any: health care facility, federally qualified health center, county or municipal welfare office or agency, Medical Assistance Customer Center (MACC), One-Stop Career Center, adoption agency or center operated by or under the authority of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families, foster care agency contracted by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency and local office of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.
The law requires the Department of Health (DOH) to create signage that contains information about breastfeeding, affirms a mother’s right to nurse in public and indicates that lactation rooms are available for the privacy and comfort of nursing mothers.
The signage must be distributed directly to the facilities identified in the bill, and posted in a printable format on the department’s website. A facility required to provide a lactation room must to display the signage in a clear and conspicuous manner in its public waiting room and any lactation room.
Acting Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said breastfeeding provides an excellent source of nutrition for infants, helps boost their immune systems to prevent illness, and strengthens the bonds between mothers and babies.
"This bill celebrates the benefits of breastfeeding by creating space for mothers to nurse," Persichilli said. "The Department of Health promotes breastfeeding and supports our working mothers with a half dozen lactation rooms."