New law protects breastfeeding mothers in public

New law protects breastfeeding mothers in public (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - A new bill was signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe that will allow mothers to breastfeed in public.

Before now, mothers could only breastfeed on government-owned property but thanks to the new law, mothers will be able to nurse anywhere they are legally allowed, including private businesses.

A new initiative in Lynchburg has been in the works for weeks to make businesses more welcoming to breastfeeding mothers.

Despite the new law, many mothers say there is still a social stigma attached to breastfeeding in public.

Sarah Bell's law office is one of the first businesses in Lynchburg to take a stand on public breastfeeding.

"I didn't have a second thought in getting involved," Bell said.

As a nursing mother, Sarah Bell says she sees first-hand how important it is to be able to nurse your baby, and that feeding time isn't always convenient for a mother on the go.

Bell said she wants all of her clients to feel comfortable at her place of business. 

"Is this the kind of place that I should do this? I want them to know, absolutely" Bell said. "Don't think twice. Come in. Do what you need to do. A crying baby is much louder and more distracting than a mom nursing."

Although new laws may allow women to breast feed in public, Bell says moms may not always feel comfortable. Now, businesses in Lynchburg are posting signs that say 'breastfeeding welcome here' in their windows.

Other local companies are following suit. Owner of Market at Main, Rodney Taylor, points out it is most important for mothers to feel comfortable feeding their babies in restaurants.

"We are a restaurant and we want people to eat well and be healthy and we want little babies to eat well too," Taylor said.

Letters are now being sent from the Central Virginia Health District, asking owners to put blue stickers in their windows, signifying a breastfeeding-friendly environment.

"If making this a comfortable environment for my clients is what this will do, then I am happy to do that," Bell said.

To learn more about the initiative in Lynchburg click here.