Oklahoma Senate approves bill to help nursing mothers working at schools

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill that protects teachers and other school employees who are nursing.

Sen. Carri Hicks is the author of Senate Bill 121, which requires school district boards of education to adopt a policy to allow nursing school employees to take paid breaks to maintain their milk supply.

“There is nothing better a mother can do for her child’s health than to nurse. However, this is something that has to be done repeatedly throughout the day to maintain one’s milk supply,” Hicks said. “We need to make it as easy as possible for mothers to continue providing this nutritious milk for their babies by getting rid of the deterrents that force so many working mothers to quit nursing.”

Under the measure, the break time could run concurrently with any break time and school district boards of education would also be required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private, sanitary room for employees.

“When I was nursing and teaching school, there were many times where I pumped in school closets and other uncomfortable spaces just so I could make sure my child could eat that night and to maintain my milk supply,” Hicks said. “Research has continually shown the significant health benefits of nursing, but it’s a time-consuming process that requires a comfortable, private and sanitary space for mothers. Last year, we passed a law allowing state employees to breastfeed while at work, and I hope we’ll extend the same privilege to our teachers and other school employees.”   

Last year, the legislature passed SB 285 to require all state agencies to allow nursing mothers reasonable daily paid break times to pump to maintain their milk supply and personal comfort. The measure became law in November.

The Senate passed SB 121. It now moves to the House for further consideration.

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