Trump’s Threat to Breastfeeding Rights

A breastfeeding expert digs into the potential ACA repeal.

As a breastfeeding expert, doula and advocate for women’s health, I’m dismayed about Trump’s treatment of women. He boasts about sexual assault, signs away reproductive freedoms, and tells female staffers how to dress. So it’s no surprise he is likely to undermine women’s health rights and protections — and that includes breastfeeding. Working moms and all who care about breastfeeding: here’s what you need to know about Trump’s threat to breastfeeding rights.

Trump has promised to repeal Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) without promising anything in its place. But it’s thanks to the ACA that most insurance providers are currently required to provide breastfeeding equipment and counseling for pregnant and nursing women. At Breast Start and Boober, I provide breastfeeding support to new moms every day, and many of them can come to me only because the services are covered by their insurance. So I’m all too aware of how much the access that they get through the ACA matters and how big of a difference it can make. You can read exactly what the ACA provides to support breastfeeding here

But Trump’s threat to repeal Obamacare means a potential loss much broader than coverage for breastfeeding counseling. “The ACA also includes provisions providing breastfeeding moms at companies with 50 or more employees with a reasonable break time to pump in a private location that is not a bathroom,” says Alex Berke, an associate at Berke-Weiss Law PLLC. Berke spearheads the firm’s Pregnancy Project, including classes on workplace rights for the modern mom.

“Any repeal of the ACA would take [workplace breastfeeding] rights away and leave women vulnerable to being denied health insurance due to their pregnancy or cesarean recovery being considered a pre-existing condition,” Berke says. “Women should also be concerned that an ACA repeal could allow insurance companies to charge women more in their monthly premiums, a practice that was stopped by the ACA, and is explicitly allowed in Congressman Tom Price’s bill, one of the few legislative ‘replace’ options.”

In other words, doing away with Obamacare could mean no time to pump at work, no private space to pump at work (besides, perhaps, the bathroom), no more free breast pumps, no more access to lactation counseling, and even denial of health insurance because pregnancy or cesareans might, like they once were before Obamacare was implemented, be considered “pre-existing conditions.”

While we don’t yet know what a Trump-approved replacement health-care bill could look like, we do know that he called a woman “disgusting” for needing a pumping break during her deposition with him, and that at least one breastfeeding infant was separated from her mother for hours in the chaos that followed Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

Given the GOP’s war against women’s health and reproductive rights, Trump’s record of impulsivity and total disregard for women’s rights and bodily autonomy may be given new heights. It is not a stretch to imagine that his administration will not only roll back the protections the ACA has given to pregnant and breastfeeding moms, but might also attempt to actively restrict rights to breastfeed in public or pump in the workplace.

Breastfeeding — and breast pumping — isn’t just some luxury lifestyle choice. It’s a matter of women’s and children’s health, which should be accessible to everyone. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. “Breastfeeding decreases the possibility that your baby will get a variety of infectious diseases, ear infections, diarrhea, etc,” according to the AAP. What’s more, it benefits the mother too. For example, breastfeeding mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster, have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and experience less postpartum bleeding.

It is common for new moms to struggle with breastfeeding. For their sake, and that of their babies, we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to breastfeed. Among developed countries, the U.S. already has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding and most dismal support of working parents. In a world where other nations offer mothers six months to a year of fully paid leave, it’s unfortunate that we even need legislation to ensure that moms who are forced to go back to work so early have the ability to pump.  So let’s focus on preserving the Affordable Care Act. Let’s persist in preserving and defending our health-care rights and the basic right to feed and provide for our children.

* The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Well Rounded.

Jada Shapiro

Jada Shapiro

Jada Shapiro is the founder of Birth Day Presence and Boober, home of the Breast Start visit, the only on-demand Breastfeeding Help service in the country! Text 917-407-1347 for immediate breastfeeding help in person or on videochat. Birth Day Presence is, NYC's most trusted Childbirth Education Center, Doula Matching Service, and on-demand Breastfeeding Help Service. A birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, and mother, Jada works with first-time parents, A-list celebrities, and everyone in between. She also offers childbirth and breastfeeding advice and expertise in media outlets including the New York Times, The Today Show, The Huffington Post, NBC, CBS, TLC and regularly consults on major films and TV Shows.

Comments {10}

  1. I’m sorry, but articles like this are complete garbage. First off, as you in fact pointed out, the replacement plan has not yet been introduced so you have NO IDEA what it will be. Second, I hate the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately due to how much my husband makes we don’t qualify for any of the “affordable plans” and we don’t make enough to pay for the regular plans because their prices syrocketed to cover everyone who is now getting a discount. So where does that leave me? A breastfeeding mom of three young children ( currently nursing my 3 month old). Yes we need a system in place to help everyone get insurance, but unfairly pricing it so those with a little bit more money have to pay entirely too much to the point where that little extra is negated by huge insurance bill doesn’t work either. My husband works full time + many hours, I also work out of the home part time, but we still struggle because of now mandatory insurance that we can no longer afford under the current system.

    Ridiculous

    And also just stop it with the Trump bashing, plenty of smart women voted for him because they don’t agree with much of the progressive, liberal agenda. I listened to “the audio” and promoting it as celebrating asulting women or whatever the heck people say is so silly. Just from the tone of voice and laughter you can tell he is obviously joking. He also apologized for it, even though it was a stupid private conversation 11 years ago, let’s move on shall we?

    momofthree
  2. This is such a bullshit article full of false information. Have you ever considered the women who are “forced” to go back to work actually want to go back to work? and the reason breastfeeding rates are low in the US is because those women choose to continue their careers once they have children, therefore have to stop breastfeeding? If you’re a huge supporter of giving the best to your/our children maybe you should be against murdering them whenever it’s convenient. And just so you know none of the things you mentioned that will be unavailable for pregnant women will be taken away if this repeal goes through. NO RIGHTS HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE TAKEN FROM YOU! Stop blaming everything on Trump and get your facts straight!

    MF
  3. What you have written is the opposite of what is happening to working moms or breast feeding moms. Evanka, Donald’s daughter is spearheading a movement for longer paid .maternity leave and childcare at places of businesses. You’ve got it all wrong. Trump is a populace, not your usual GOP Conservative. He’s a “mixed bog.” Many GOP leaders don’t like him because of his Progressive views.

    If you’re going to spread the word, please spread the TRUTH if you want your readers to be properly informed. Ignorance is not bliss; it’s destructive and divides people.

    sharon
  4. Thank you for giving us the facts about what the ACA has done to support women. I was able to get a free pump when I returned to work and was able to stand up for myself when they didn’t have a safe space to pump. I hope if it is replaced with a new plan we will still see these benefits and more.

    Sarah
    1. That’s awesome, Sarah! It takes guts to do that, you rock.

      Jessica Pallay
  5. This article should have never been allowed to be published, and Well Rounded NYC that’s on you. Instead of it simply being an informative article about what was included in the ACA that COULD POSSIBLY be removed by a new policy, it was full of bashing and judgmental language and rhetoric, and way too many assumptions. If you really want to inform women about potential, important changes to their rights then DO THAT without inserting personal opinions that will only alienate some who still need this information. The Trump administration has a more progressive agenda for supporting women than ANY OTHER Republican candidate for President did…so even though Hillary didn’t win and we’re all too aware of Trump’s personal comments regarding women in the past, his POLICIES will be more middle-of-the-road in supporting women than if another Republican would have been elected. There’s a silver lining, and until a new plan has been introduced all of this is speculation. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Well Rounded NYC and recommend it to everyone, but publishing this was a mistake in my opinion.

    Sarah G
    1. Thanks for your comment, Sarah – we appreciate all the points you’ve brought up here. At Well Rounded, we do try to give voice to many different viewpoints from our community, and this was one of them. We value you as a reader, and hope you’ll stick around for more coverage of this from other angles.

      Jessica Pallay
  6. Please get your facts straight about allegations against our president!

    Mary Kate
  7. Thank you for writing and publishing this article. As a breastfeeding mom of twins that uses the ACA for all three of us to be insured, I am incredibly grateful for the access to care, my breast pump, a lactation consultant and many other benefits that we have. It is helpful to know what we’re up against and what we stand to lose so that we can be informed of what we’ll need to fight for in the future.

    Sarah W..
  8. Well Rounded can try hide behind the statement that “we do try to give voice to many different viewpoints from our community” as justification for publishing this very politically slanted article, but what can’t be hidden is its complicity in fearmongering. So disappointing.

    Lynda Sue

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