RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Starting today moms can breastfeed their children anywhere in Virginia, and a Richmond group celebrated the new law in a public way. Moms, dads, babies and supporters gathered at Maymont Park for an event called a Nurse-Out.
“This is a huge step forward in terms of supporting women, children and families in Virginia,” says Kate Noon of the VA Alliance for Breastfeeding Laws, which had been working with legislators since last summer to make it possible.
The old law only protected mothers who were feeding on government-owned property, but now they have the right to breastfeed in any public place, no requirements for coverage.
“I’m just trying to feed my son just like anyone else wants to eat at a restaurant or a mall, so this is really amazing that we have the support,” says Joelle Kwiatkowski.
“It’s amazing, it’s healthy, it’s great for the mom, great for the baby and a great bonding experience.”
Adds Jason Poulos, who attended the event with his young son and wife, “It’s been really nice for her to continue what she’s been doing and just not potentially get in trouble for it.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics says up until this point in Virginia, only one-quarter of women were able to breastfeed their babies for the six to twelve months it recommends. Now this new law will allow more of them to reach that goal and pass on financial, environmental and health benefits.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” says Dr. Gauri Gulati, a pediatrician and lactation consultant. “Just by helping families breastfeed you can prevent many, many, many diseases.”
Virginia is the 48th state to protect a mother’s right to breastfeed.