Breastfeeding Support Program

Breastfeeding at Work and School

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for their baby’s first six months of life and continue breastfeeding through their baby’s first year of life.  AAP reports numerous health benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother.

An employee's right to express milk at work is protected by New York State Labor Law § 206-C (established in May 2008), which requires employers to allow working women to use unpaid break time or paid meal time to nurse their babies or express milk for up to three years after the birth of their child.  It also requires employers to make a reasonable effort to provide a space where an employee can express milk in privacy and prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee who exercises this right.  All departments are required to post this policy. Additionally, The Breastfeeding Bill of Rights is available for print in several languages through the New York State Department of Health website.

Additionally, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide breaks for nursing mothers, although New York State already had the related labor law in place. The Affordable Care Act also requires health insurance to provide coverage for breast pumps.  Contact your insurance provider or reach out to the Columbia Benefits Service Center for additional information on what is covered.

Recognizing the benefits of breastfeeding and in compliance with the law, Columbia University is committed to ensuring that the needs of lactating women are met and now offers a breastfeeding support program.   The breastfeeding support program is for mothers at Columbia returning to work, school, or visiting the campus who wish to express milk.