1. Spatz, Diane L. PhD, RN-BC, FAAN

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Since 2010, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law, as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), has provided hourly employees with reasonable break time to express milk until the infant is a year old (United States Department of Labor, 2023). The employee must be provided with a space other than a bathroom that is shielded from view and free from intrusion by the public and coworkers (United States Department of Labor, 2023). This law was an important first step but did not protect one out of four working mothers. Therefore, legislation to expand this law has been introduced in each Congressional session since the law was enacted. The Breastfeeding Promotion Act was proposed in 2011 and in 2013. In 2015, the Supporting Working Moms Act was proposed.


The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) worked to update the bill in 2019 and it was renamed the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act (USBC, 2023). At a joint congressional hearing in 2020, the USBC Executive Director provided testimony to congress which led to the revised 2021 Pump Act proposed legislation (USBC, 2023). During the summer of 2022 amidst all the formula shortages, the PUMP Act was voted down saying it would be too burdensome to employers. However, due to advocacy work, especially by the USBC, a major win for families occurred when the PUMP Act (S. 1658/H.R. 3110) was signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2023 (USBC, 2023). The PUMP Act was the first standalone breastfeeding bill to have a recorded vote on the Senate and House floors (USBC, 2023).


The passing of this bill has great significance, especially since in 2022, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their position statement to align with the World Health Organization recommending that women breastfeeding for 2 full years or until mutually desired by mother and child (Meek et al., 2022). The majority of women are in the workforce and return to work is a known barrier to continuing to breastfeed, thus the PUMP Act sets important precedent to protect our families and the future of our society. The exclusivity and duration of breastfeeding affect child health outcomes both short and long term (Meek et al., 2022).


Key points of the PUMP Act include: 1) expanding the right to space and time to pump to almost all workers with the exception of pilots and flight attendants, 2) clarifying that if an employee is not completely relieved from duty, pumping time must be paid, and 3) workers may file a lawsuit to seek monetary compensation if their employer fails to comply with the law (USBC, 2023). This legislation went into effect immediately on December 29, 2022. However, a 120-day delay for enforcement was included; therefore, the effective date for the law was April 28, 2023 (USBC, 2023).


As nurses, we have an important role to educate our employers about the PUMP Act. Nurses comprise the largest percentage of the members of the health care team and have faced significant work challenges before and during the pandemic including shortages and inadequate staffing. Nurses must educate their employers and ensure that the PUMP Act legislation is implemented and prioritized. Nurses also play an important role in educating their families about the law. During prenatal, antepartum, and postpartum care, we must assess our families for plans to return to paid work and educate them about the new provisions in the PUMP Act. This legislation provides tangible benefits that could help more women achieve their personal breastfeeding goals and in turn improve the health of our society.




Meek J. Y., Noble L.Section on Breastfeeding. (2022). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk (Policy Statement). Pediatrics, 150(1), e2022057988.[Context Link]


United States Breastfeeding Committee. (2023, February). The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) For Nursing Mothers Act. PUMP Act ( [Context Link]


United States Department of Labor. (2023, February). FLSA protections to pump at work. FLSA Protections to Pump at Work | U.S. Department of Labor ( [Context Link]