Breastfeeding and Incarceration

It is a basic human right of the incarcerated to receive medical care if they need it.

If an incarcerated lactating woman isn’t provided with appropriate medical care, she could experience any and all of the following:

  • mastitis (breast infection)
  • lowered milk supply
  • unintended weaning
  • pain

Law enforcement personnel should treat nursing mothers the same way they would if she were diabetic and needed an insulin shot.

If they fail to provide her with the most basic medical services, it may be a violation of the mother’s civil rights.

Some law enforcement personnel are concerned that breast pumps could be disabled, dismantled and turned into weapons.

An immediate solution is to teach mothers Hand Expression.

What do I do if I am advocating for a breastfeeding woman who has been arrested, is in jail or is being incarcerated?

  • Contact your local legislator (state senator or assemblymember)
  • Contact your local health department, public health, maternal child adolescent health
  • Contact the sheriff’s departure
  • Contact the ACLU
  • Email BreastfeedLA at
  • Ask to speak to the jail medical personnel.  Request an electric breast pump and appropriate supervision and medical care.


Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, which is a part of All of Us or None

Sheila Kitzinger’s article about women in prisons.  

Family-Based Treatment:

Page 25 of this research talks about infant programs for incarcerated women:

Here is an excellent bibliography on incarceration of mothers:

Recent California Research:  Tina Lavy’s 2015 CBC Presentation, “Breastfeeding and the Incarcerated Mother”

Jail Protocols Sample Policy

County Jail Medical Service instructions on milk transportation 

More here….

  • California Department of Public Health

    New In-Hospital Breastfeeding Data.

    Read more here!

  • Healthcare

    The Regional Hospital Breastfeeding Consortium (RHBC) meetings to provide ongoing support and guidance for staff from participating hospitals. Learn more

  • LA Convention Center-Breastfeeding Friendly!

    Learn more here.

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