County-controlled properties to become breastfeeding-friendly spaces after unanimous vote
Nursing mothers will soon be able to breastfeed their children in Washtenaw County-controlled properties without fear of harassment after the Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a new policy Wednesday night.
Commissioners voted 10-0, with Barbara Levin Bergman absent, to adopt the policy after no discussion on the issue by the board.
The policy is the result of an initiative supported by Washtenaw County Public Health, which has a breastfeeding-friendly policy in its department.
One of the deterrents to mothers in their decision to breastfeed their babies is not being allowed to do so in public.
With the adoption of the policy Wednesday night, the county will move forward in posting signs around properties it controls — including courthouses, parks and offices — to let mothers know they won’t be harassed if they need to breastfeed their child in public.
Although the policy does not state guidelines for how a woman should cover herself while breastfeeding in public, Public Health staff have stated that women typically breastfeed discreetly and didn’t feel it was necessary to include the language.
The breastfeeding-friendly policy supports a Public Health goal to get mothers who initiate breastfeeding with their children to sustain the practice for a longer period of time.
About 75 percent of new mothers in Washtenaw County start breastfeeding their newborn infants, but by the time the child is six months old, the rate drops to 16.5 percent, local health officials have stated.