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Breastfeeding SF Workers To Be Given Private Space Under Proposed Legislation

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A San Francisco supervisor introduced legislation Tuesday that would require businesses to provide a space for workers who are breastfeeding or lactating.

"New mothers juggle a million things to get through the day," said Julia Parish of the Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition.

With her nine-month old son, Adrian, on her hip, Julia Parish stood in solidarity Tuesday with Supervisor KatyTang, who proposed the bill which would make breastfeeding easier for working moms in San Francisco.

"I think San Francisco and the rest of the country is very behind and I think many mothers don't have a choice on whether they return to work or not," said Tang.

The legislation would require all San Francisco employers do three things: 1.) provide a clean, private space specifically for pumping with a seat, surface, electrical outlet, and a sink; 2.) create a lactation policy; and 3.) initiate a conversation with female employees before they go on maternity leave.

"One of the big barriers, there's a ton of barriers to continuing to breastfeed," said working mother Ashley Summers. "It's really hard in general, but a huge barrier is having a conversation with your employer and finding a space in your workplace."

Summers is Supervisor Tang's legislative aide, and her pregnancy two years ago made both women aware of the constraints new moms face returning to work.

Summers was one of the first moms to use a new lactation room inside San Francisco City Hall.

According to the California Department of Health, only 52 percent of mothers have breastfeeding support at work.

"I think a lot of women give up breastfeeding before they want to and no employer should make that decision for someone," said Parrish.

Tang's legislation will be up for a formal vote in the next three months.

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