Episode 108: The New PUMP Act, U.S. Breastfeeding Laws & the Future of Breastfeeding Healthcare Technology with Bethany Corbin
Interview, Pumping, Social Justice, Work May 24, 2023
Jacqueline Kincer 0:03
Welcome to the Breastfeeding Talk Podcast. I am thrilled to have you join us for another exciting episode filled with valuable insights, tips, and practical advice to support you on the incredible journey of breastfeeding. And today’s episode we have the amazing opportunity to interview a truly inspirational guest Bethany Corbin as a healthcare innovation and femtech attorney Bethany is on a mission to help thought-leading companies revolutionize the global women’s health sector. She is the founder of FEM Innovation, which helps founders clinicians politicians and advocates transform and disrupt standard care delivery for women’s health through specially tailored legal and educational programs through leadership and advocacy. Bethany is a recognized leader at the intersection of women’s health law and technology and was named a top 200 trailblazing leader in women’s health and femtech by Women of wearables. Her strategic insights have been featured in top news outlets including Forbes, Fortune, BBC, NPR, Buzzfeed, the Atlantic vice cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, and more. Finally, she’s on the breastfeeding talk podcast.
Bethany has testified about the importance of data privacy for reproductive health before the Maryland Cybersecurity Council’s ad hoc committee on consumer privacy. And as an advisory board member for Kisa co researches Women’s Health Innovation conference series, get ready to be captivated by Bethany’s knowledge and expertise as she shares her insights and passion that drive her to empower and uplift not just women, but breastfeeding mothers around the globe. Before we dive into this unforgettable conversation with Bethany, I want to remind you to please leave a review for the show, share it with your friends, and make sure you’re following us on social media, your support means the world to us.
In fact, I’d love to highlight a recent review from one of our wonderful listeners. They said I can’t say enough about this podcast, I’ve learned so much. And I’m so appreciative of someone to care so much about helping mothers being educated is empowering, especially when you can be faced with so many doubts and guilts and parenthood. I instantly purchased the holistic lactation supplements and scheduled an appointment for extra help. Both have been great decisions. Thank you, Jacqueline and the rest of the team for all you do. Thank you so much for your kind words. We just have the name educated mamas. So thank you so much for sharing that on our reviews. Honestly, stuff like that just, you know, encourages me to record some incredible episodes. And I love what you said about being educated and empowered, because that’s exactly what this episode and interview with Bethany is going to do. So I’m so glad we could be a part of our listeners, breastfeeding journeys.
So now it’s time for you to grab a comfy seat, put on your headphones. And let’s dive into this conversation with Bethany Corbin on the breastfeeding talk podcast. Welcome, Bethany. I’m so excited. You’re here today. This is perfect timing to cover the topics that we’re going to cover today in this episode. And yeah, it’s just so great that we’ve connected here online and get through this episode today. So I would just love if you could introduce yourself and tell us about your background in the field of you know, women’s health and laws and everything that you do.
Bethany Corbin 3:56
Absolutely. And thank you so much for having me on the show today. I am thrilled to be here. And it’s such a timely topic that we’ll be discussing. So my background is that I am a healthcare innovation and femtech attorney femtech meaning female health technology. So I focus my expertise really on the digital health industry and how we’re evolving to create new and innovative solutions for women’s health care. I mentor a lot of founder startups and founders in this area. And I also do a lot with data privacy. So I’m always whenever I’m looking at new innovations as they’re coming out for women’s health care, thinking about them through a data privacy lens. I also tackle right obviously all things healthcare law-related, and specifically women’s healthcare law related including breastfeeding laws and how those have changed.
Jacqueline Kincer 4:40
Oh, yes, I love it. The work that you’re doing is so needed. And these are really important considerations that, you know, I feel like don’t often come up until it personally affects somebody so it’s really great that you’re doing this work that you are and yeah, I’d love to just even start out i I did a previous episode not too long ago, really focused on nursing and public. And I did cover some of the laws on that. But because we’re making this episode more of a legal one in general, and you’re the expert, maybe you can give us like an overview of the general breastfeeding laws in the United States and how they vary from state to state.
Bethany Corbin 5:20
Sure. So there are a couple of different levels on which breastfeeding laws exist in the US. We have the laws at the federal level, and then we have laws at the state level, the laws at the federal level are mostly going to be related to employers, right employment areas discrimination, whenever we’re thinking about breastfeeding in public. There’s no federal law that covers or protects public breastfeeding. So that instead is left to the states. So whenever we look at that landscape, right, what we see is that all 50 states and DC have laws that do specifically allow women to breastfeed in public and private locations. And some states, for instance, Florida, to actually allow breastfeeding in any location, whether it’s public or private, where the woman has a right right or as authorized to be in. The other thing that we kind of see as an interplay here is a lot of states have public nudity laws, right or indecency laws. And so there’s been some concern amongst women about whether or not they can actually be charged under those public nudity laws if they’re breastfeeding in public. So most states do have those public nudity laws. But about 30 to 31. states and DC actually exempt breastfeeding from public nudity and indecency laws, though in most states, you’re going to be protected. If you’re breastfeeding in public, it’s not going to be considered an indecent exposure, if you’re not covered up. Even states that do not actually have those Express protections written into the law, there’s very unlikely that you’re actually going to be prosecuted, right, it’s very unlikely that a law enforcement officer is going to come and issue a citation, even less likely that the public defender’s, I’m sorry, the DHS office is going to come and actually prosecute you for this. The other types of things that we see, when we consider this landscape, or some other special laws with respect to breastfeeding at the state level, for instance, 22 states actually exempt breastfeeding women from having to go to jury duty, or they allow them to postpone it. There’s other unique laws that we see, for instance, New Jersey actually exempts breast pumps and breast pump repair, and replacement parts from sales tax, some laws, some states like California and Connecticut actually have laws that are related to the procurement and processing and distribution of human milk. And then there’s New York, which in and of itself has this comprehensive breastfeeding mothers bills of rights. And that has to be posted in maternal health care facilities. So we see kind of a wide range of protection among the different states for breastfeeding women. But the you know, kind of when we think about the landscape in general, if you’re breastfeeding woman, you have the right to breastfeed in public in private, and you should not feel at all as if you’re going to be prosecuted, right? Or like you’re going to be violating any type of public nudity laws.
Jacqueline Kincer 8:12
Yes, yes. And that’s, it’s really great. And it’s an important thing, because still, you know, every now and again, I see a news story about somebody that doesn’t understand those laws, and they’re telling them whether to cover up or to leave the property. And oh, dear, you know, it just it creates such a hassle when people aren’t aware. But thankfully, there are those protections in place, like you said, and even if, you know, push comes to shove, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to have some real charges against you because you’re not doing anything wrong.
Bethany Corbin 8:41
Exactly. And it’s, it’s interesting, right, that we do have such an uneducated population, when it comes to breastfeeding, I can tell you, the majority of people, even in my social circle, probably aren’t aware that women have the right to breastfeed in public spaces. And so it often goes to this question of why is there even uproar over that, right? Why is it making other people uncomfortable? And I think it really goes to the fact that for so long, we have equated, you know, women’s breasts with being sexual, right, or indecent or erotic. And so, especially with the work that I do in FinTech, we work to try and break down those social stigmas and taboos to really make it so everybody understands that these are fundamental rights that women have, right. Breastfeeding is a natural part of what every woman hopes to go through when they have a child. And so really breaking down the stigmas and taboos is important, even though we have these laws for educating the general public,
Jacqueline Kincer 9:35
huh, yes, yes, absolutely. And it makes me think of, you know, you’re talking about how there’s nothing really at the federal level, these are really at the state level. So a question that tends to come up whenever travel is discussed, as are women protected if they breastfeed on airplanes? Because now you’re typically not staying in one state when that happens.
Bethany Corbin 9:58
Yeah, it’s a great question. And so airlines are a bit different. And really, it’s up to the airlines and their specific policies on how they permit breastfeeding on their airplane. Some airlines will actually allow and have a breastfeeding policy and, you know, try and find you a nice quiet designated space. Other airlines don’t necessarily have a policy, but they have a commitment that they’ve you know, expressed to their customers that if a woman needs to breastfeed, they will help her right, they’ll take their service to the next level. So really, it’s up to the airlines, most major airlines are going to allow you to breastfeed on flights. The other thing to think about whenever we’re considering kind of air travel is airports. So there are actually the friendly airports for Mothers Act and the friendly airports for Mothers Improvement Act. And those require small, medium, and large hub airports to actually provide a private non-bathroom space, and each of the different terminal buildings so that a woman can go and express her breast milk. And then the other thing we think about when we think about air travel is really TSA, right, the lovely security lines. So with TSA, right? If you have expressed milk, or you have a child who has you know, has certain feeding items that you’re carrying, those are generally going to be exempt from there’s TSA regulations that limit the quantities of liquids or gels that you can take through, you do not have to be traveling with a baby in order for those exceptions to apply to you. But one thing I would recommend is right, we are in a society where people don’t necessarily always know the regulations. Bring a printed copy of those TSA regulations for express milk with you whenever you go to the airport. It can just really help speed up the screening process.
Jacqueline Kincer 11:38
Oh, yes, that’s great advice, because you’re like, No, see, it’s right here. Exactly. Yeah, there’s Yeah, I think there’s a lot of concern about that. Because Oh, my gosh, you’ve worked hard to express that milk, and you do not want anything bad happening to it.
Bethany Corbin 11:53
Exactly. And as a lawyer, I always love to have a law 2.2 or regulation 2.2. So, you know, kind of having that in your back pocket. Hopefully, you never need to use it when you’re traveling. But it can just save you a lot of time instead of getting pulled out of the line while they’re trying to search for what they can or can’t do.
Jacqueline Kincer 12:09
Yeah, no, that’s that’s an excellent advice. And yeah, in that vein, too, you know, let’s talk about women in the workplace and what their legal rights are, when they’re breastfeeding mother. And, you know, there’s this, you know, we’ll weave it into this, of course, but recently, there was the pomp Act, which is an important piece of legislation. And so we can talk about that. But yeah, the the workplace rights, I think there’s a lot of confusion about that. A lot of hesitation, and uncomfortableness that comes along with that. So you’re such a great person to speak to what those rights are.
Bethany Corbin 12:48
Well, thank you. Yeah. And I’m happy to do so. So you know, and I know, we’ll get into the pump act. So I kind of want to take us back a little bit before the pump act, just so we can kind of see how this all evolved and why the pump act is so important. So we had the what’s called the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law, it was passed in 2010, as part of the Affordable Care Act by President Obama. So everybody pretty familiar with the ACA. And section 4207 of that law, amended the Fair Labor Standards Act, so the FLSA. And it required that certain employees have access to reasonable breaks, so that they can express breast milk for nursing children for up to one year after that child’s birth, and that they have access to those, those breaks in the spaces that they need, each time they have to express milk. So this was really back in 2010, the first time that we had a federal law that entitled certain workers to these break times, and also to designated spaces for breast milk pumping. Now, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law does not apply to all employees. So there was actually this unintended legal technicality in that law, whenever it was introduced and passed, and specifically that break time law was placed in the provision of the FLSA that sets overtime. So what that meant was that only employees who were eligible to receive overtime pay if they worked more than 40 hours a week, we’re actually covered and entitled to the protections by this break time law. If we think about that, in terms of what it actually means for women, right? It meant that this break time law did not cover approximately one in four working women of childbearing age, and that equated to about 9 million working women. So they were not covered by these protections. So that would mean things like your salaried managers, right? salaried office worker, school teachers, airline employees, a lot of them weren’t originally originally eligible for this. And that’s kind of where that newly passed pump act comes into play. And I know we’ll talk about that in a minute. So I’ll kind of I’ll say that.
Jacqueline Kincer 14:55
Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, I think it’s really tricky when you know If you are a mom, and you’re going through this information, you’re like, does this apply to me? Does it not? And you don’t necessarily want to rely on the HR person to tell you with her not, right. You want to know your own rights. And it’s so difficult to tease out, especially if you’re not used to the way that laws are written. And you don’t, you know, have the context of what that specific wording might mean. So, yeah, I mean, it was there, obviously, better than nothing. But, you know, I’d love for you to give us an overview of the recently passed pump act, and its significance for breastfeeding mothers.
Bethany Corbin 15:35
Yeah, of course. So in December of 2020, to late December, President binded, he signed the consolidation Appropriations Act of 2023. And in that act, it included the provide urgent maternal protections or the pump act. And so what the pump Act did was that it amended the existing requirements for the break time law. And it actually allowed those protections to expand to those other nearly 9 million additional breastfeeding employees who were not originally covered under the break time law because of that legal technicality. So now we have the pump act, extending the right to receive these bright times, and also to receive specific types of spaces in which women can go to pump to millions more employees, such as, you know, nurses, farm workers, teachers, huge, huge expansion of that. And that act, it was it was passed, you know, in December 29 2022. It actually just took effect on April 28 2023. So it’s very new in terms of that expansion, but it does cover that loophole that was unintentional. And that did exist.
Jacqueline Kincer 16:45
Yeah. And so it’s expanded this these protections. What are some of those key provisions though? Because, you know, there’s only certain types of employers are required. So maybe you could go into that too. Because, you know, I don’t I don’t want any mom to think, you know, that just you know, her job, you know, okay, I’m entitled to this. And then the employer is like, well, actually, I don’t have to provide that because of these reasons. So I know, there are some provisions that would be good to discuss.
Bethany Corbin 17:16
Yeah, absolutely. So whenever we think about the FLSA, right, it doesn’t, as you mentioned, apply to every type of employer, the FLSA. And you can find the requirements, I believe it’s in Section seven of the applicability. So what it does is in when we think about Fs FLSA, right, it does much more than just breastfeeding. Right? It’s it’s that law that you have probably heard of, because it’s doing things like minimum wage, right, overtime, pay that type of stuff. And so the FLSA is only going to apply to certain types of employers. And the employers who are covered are going to be employers who have annual sales, totaling $500,000 or more, or who are engaged in interstate commerce. So, you know, it does cover like all types of workplaces, right. And part of that is because we interpret the term interstate commerce very broadly. So for instance, right, if you’re a company that’s using the mail, to send or receive letters, right to other states, you’re technically being engaged in interstate commerce for the purposes of this act. So there are also some employers that are exempt from the FLSA. So that would be things like small farms, right? They’re one of those ones that are specifically excluded from the FLSA. Okay, whenever we also think about employers who are covered, you typically have to have at least two employees. And you also things like, if you’re an enterprise that does things like, um, businesses that are providing medical or nursing care, right, schools or preschools, government agencies, right hospitals, those types of things, you will also typically be covered under the FLSA.
Jacqueline Kincer 19:00
Hmm, awesome. So in that case, you know, that’s, that’s huge, right? That that’s a lot of coverage and just, you know, a narrow subset of exemptions to that. So what if a woman feels like she’s being denied these rights that are now you know, in place for her? What can she do about that?
Bethany Corbin 19:20
Yeah, it’s a great question. So first, to answer the question, I want to be clear on kind of what the what rights the women actually do how? Because, you know, because it can be confusing. You’re like, great, I have a right to pump pump at work, right? You have a little bit more than that. So first, right, what is what does that break law break time law require? Well, employers have to provide you with reasonable breaks. If you are a worker who is expressing breast milk for a nursing child. What’s a reasonable break, right? We in the law, I love the word reasonable because you can’t really define it. So there’s no concrete standard rate and that’s going to add a lot of flexibility into you know, how how long you need to take to be able to do it. That type of thing, but it’s got to be a reasonable amount of time for you to get in there pump finish clean up, and you know, put your stuff away. The second is you have the employer has to offer you these breaks for one year after your child’s birth. And then these breaks have to be offered to you, at each time that you need to go and express more during the workday. I think that there’s been a study that shows that breastfeeding women need to do it usually at least two to three times of pumping breast milk during the workday. So anytime that you need it, it has to be available to you. What else has to be available? Well, space, right? The law states that if you are breastfeeding employee, you’re entitled to a place at work to pump other than a bathroom. And so bathrooms, right there are places that we go, we eliminate waste, we wash our hands to prevent the spread of illness, we would not eat or prepare food in the bathroom. And so because you know, breast milk is food, it needs to be subjected to the same standards of care as other types of food. For that reason, women are not allowed or to be forced to use a bathroom to breastfeed. So that means that employers now have to provide women with a space that’s shielded from public view free from intrusion from co workers or the general public, it doesn’t have to be a permanent space. It can be a temporary space, right? But if that space then has to be available to you each time you need it, if it’s a temporary space, for the space to be considered functional, it’s gotta you know, this isn’t in the law, right? But whenever you think about what a space has to have to be functional, it’s got to be at least large enough that you can have a chair right, a flat surface for the pump. Generally, a lot of employers will have larger spaces, because they know that that will be more comfortable for you. But that’s kind of the minimum that I would I would require. The other question I get a lot of do I have to be compensated for this? If, if so technically no, right, the employer does not have to compensate or these breaks. But that said, if an employer provides compensated breaks to all of its employees, you elect to use one o’clock milk, that break would still have to be compensated the same way it is for other employees. So when we think about that, right, those, that’s that’s what you’re entitled to. What happens if you don’t get that? Well, that can be that can be problematic. There’s a couple of different things that you can do. So one of the first steps that we typically recommend, right is talking to human resources or a supervisor, letting them know of the problem asking them, Hey, where’s my space, right? Why am I not getting this time I’ve been denied. XYZ. If they’re unresponsive, you may decide that you want to file a formal complaint or speak with a lawyer. So the pump act is actually being enforced by the Department of Labor. So you a woman can go and file with her local Department of Labor Office. But what’s really unique about the pomp act as well, is that it expanded the enforcement provisions. So women actually have a right to just go ahead and file a lawsuit for monetary damages. So you could file a damage, a damage lawsuit, for any type of violation of that break time law, the one exception that the employer has not provided adequate space to pump milk, you need to let them know that they haven’t provided an adequate space, and then wait at least 10 days before you file the lawsuit. And it’s not required that you file that complaint with the Department of Labor before you filed the lawsuit. You can do either or both.
Jacqueline Kincer 23:41
Okay. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, I mean, it’s really really good information to know because, you know, I think it’s always a good idea to try to work it out internally with your company, if you can, right, because, obviously, that just bodes better for your relationship with them. Right? If they’re not willing to listen and and accommodate you, you know, there are these these other pathways to go through. And sometimes it sadly, is just that they don’t know, right? They think they’re doing you a favor by you know, here’s, well, you can use my office to pump and that’s the temporary space, but then they have a meeting and they can’t leave that office, but you need to pump like no and I think to you know, it’s great that they’re that there is this pathway that’s kind of spelled out about the ability to file the complaint or do a lawsuit and seek damages because not pumping, the consequences of that not pumping on time, not pumping frequently enough can be devastating from you know, a horrible case of mastitis to you know, losing lactation. And so these are just, you know, a really, really big deal. And again, unless somebody understands how breastfeeding lactation works, sometimes they don’t quite get why it’s so important. So I think, gosh, you know, it’s so great that we have those pathways. What would you recommend for pee people that, you know, they’re listening to this information, maybe they’re currently on maternity leave, and they’re thinking, Okay, I need to have a conversation with my employer before I go back to the office or what have you. What would you recommend they do to initiate that process just so they’re being proactive about it?
Bethany Corbin 25:20
Yeah. So I always recommend that for employees to start having the conversations with their employers, whether it’s your direct supervisor or HR, usually, before you go on maternity leave, if you can, just because it’ll give you peace of mind that the situation will be resolved by the time you come back, you they will have, you know, the the necessary infrastructure in place or the necessary changes, and it can kind of alleviate a lot of anxiety that you might feel upon. Now, that may not always be upfront. And so if you’re in the circumstance, right, where you’re on maternity leave, or you’re getting ready to come back, I would absolutely still reach out to your supervisor or HR, you can even let them know, hey, you know, I think you know, we’re covered by the pump act. I know, this is what it requires, can you just let me know what the plan is, upon my return? I wouldn’t make it you know, adversarial or anything at this point, I would have it just be a purely, you know, conversational discussion, but making sure that they’re aware that you know, your rights, right, you’re not gonna settle for something that’s less than what you’re owed legally. And understanding and making sure that has a plan for how it could be potentially be communicated, right, let’s say what happens if you’re in a meeting, and you have to go and pump? How would that be communicated to the other employees? Is there anything else that needs to be done from a communications perspective? So that’s how I would approach it very conversational. Most employers, especially if they’re larger companies, they will have policies and procedures in place. If you’re an employer out there who doesn’t have a lactation policy in place, I highly encourage you to do one, because that can also be a huge resource to employees, especially if you’re in a company, right, and you’re going on maternity leave, and your company does have a lactation policy, you probably have access to it and the employee handbook. And if not, I would also ask HR for a copy of that policy. They may not have it, but it will actually get them starting to think oh, yeah, you know, this is something we haven’t seen before. Now we’re having more women getting pregnant in our workforce, maybe we need that policy. So it kind of planted the seed in their head as well. Oh, yeah.
Jacqueline Kincer 27:21
No, that’s great. Yeah, you can really make a difference for people that come after you when you initiate these conversations and get these things going. And it makes me think about, you know, there’s a lot of different types of jobs out there, right. So how does this stuff translate to people that work from home, or maybe have a job that doesn’t involve being in an office, let’s say you’re a police officer, and you’re you work traffic, and you’re in your patrol car, and maybe you have a partner with you, like, just, you know, kind of a niche scenario, but your delivery driver? Who knows, right? You have to get creative. Obviously, it’s not that your employer is gonna give you all of the solutions as to how to pump when you’re doing your job. But are there any requirements of these particular acts or laws that apply to those situations? Yeah, that’s
Bethany Corbin 28:11
another great question. So there’s nothing that requires you and the pump act, right, or the break time law to actually be in a physical office for this to apply. So especially with the COVID, 19 pandemic, right, many of us have moved into home offices are working remotely, those same requirements apply, you still have the right to reasonable times, and reasonable breaks, right to go and pump, you have a right to a quiet space. Right. So let’s say that you’re on camera, then you have the right to turn your camera off, right or move into another room. So it’s, it’s the same provisions that just translate a little bit differently depending on your location. And I would absolutely make sure if you are in one of those remote jobs or working from home, that you communicate that with your employer as well, because I don’t think if you’re not physically in an office, sometimes it’s not top of their mind that yeah, you’re still going to need to take breaks during the day to pump or smell. Or that may mean you can’t be on camera at this particular time, or that you have to step away from a meeting. So I would absolutely encourage productive communication on that front if you are remote, because things like that can kind of slip through the cracks. When we think about different types of jobs, right, like you mentioned a police officer. There has to be reasonable accommodations to allow them to continue to, you know, be able to breastfeed or to be able to pump milk. It was very interesting. There was a case back in 2017, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and that really just served as a reminder about pregnancy discrimination. So there we had an individual it was a police officer in that case, she was returning from maternity leave and she got demoted and reassigned and when they reassigned her, she was required to either wear a ballistic vest or if she chose not to wear the ballistic vest, then she would be endangering herself. But the ballistic vest was interfering with her ability to breastfeed and so The court found that that reassignment and the failure to accommodate her breastfeeding needs, that that was discriminatory and that that was a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. So I know we’ve been talking a lot about the pump law, right and your your rights to pump at work. You also have a right not to be discriminated against through the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. And that includes things like lactation and breastfeeding after the fact. So there would need to be reasonable accommodations there to ensure you’re not discriminated against.
Jacqueline Kincer 30:29
Oh, yeah, that is so awesome. I’m so glad I asked. I am learning so much from you today. This is so great.
Bethany Corbin 30:36
Now that we have this entire legal system around breastfeeding laws,
Jacqueline Kincer 30:40
I know look at this, this is actually kind of cool. So if you’re not, you know, it’s easy to get caught up in, you know, not, you know, feeling good about the way things might be going in the country or your state or whatever, right. And then you hear this and you’re like, Well, okay, that’s yeah, that’s pretty decent. We got that going for us. Right. Oh, gosh. Um, so yeah, I guess I’d love to, you know, because you do this femtech aspect of your work, right. I’d love to just talk a little bit about, you know, digital health innovations technology, like, what are some of those things that you’re seeing that are available for breastfeeding mothers, that you’re seeing helping them?
Bethany Corbin 31:27
Jacqueline Kincer 35:19
Yes, I was going to ask, like, wonder if there’s any privacy concerns, because I know that is a hot topic.
Bethany Corbin 35:26
Like, it’s interesting, too, because we have uses and disclosures of data downstream, some are bad, some are good. So like selling your data to a Data Broker, right? We don’t want that. But something like using your data to help clinical research, some of these apps actually do partner with established clinical research teams to use that data to further women’s healthcare down the line. And so that could be you know, a user disclosure that you’re excited about or that you’re willing to allow?
Jacqueline Kincer 35:53
Hmm, yeah. And that does sound like one of the benefits of, you know, technology, and its role in improving lactation support and breastfeeding outcomes. A lot of these things are also very new, though. And we do have a body of work, you know, showing that, you know, different different levels of support different levels of care, different levels of education. Right, they all provide some benefits. So just curious what you think, you know, besides what you just mentioned, the the role this technology is playing? How much? In what ways? Is it really helping to improve lactation and breastfeeding outcomes?
Bethany Corbin 36:31
Yeah, that’s a very interesting question. So I think the really good thing about this technology is that it’s driving awareness in general, about breastfeeding and lactation to more women who may not have thought about it before. Or if you have, you know, a very inexpensive app. Right, we’re enhancing accessibility to this information. I think that has been one of the key impacts that femtech has had, overall, in general, you know, kind of throughout all of the different sub sectors. It brings up the question, though, of how reliable are these apps? You know, Are you trading data for anything meaningful? Is the data even accurate? And I have to say, that is an area in which I have not been 100% convinced of the FEM tech industry, just because it’s going to depend on how well vetted these apps are. If we think about the period tracking context, which has much more research done on it, there are some pretty bad accuracy statistics about those period tracking apps on the market, especially the free versions or the versions that are using kind of, you know, date entry methods, manual tracking methods, there’s no reason to think, right, that when we come to breastfeeding, we may not have some of those same accuracy concerns, because it goes back to you know, how these devices are regulated and what exactly they’re collecting and giving you if you have a platform that’s more focused on, for instance, providing an algorithm to give you predictions, okay, you know, use the side versus the side, on the data that you’ve inputted, how’s that been vetted, has that had clinical input has that been FDA reviewed, a lot of times the FDA will issue while these devices and these products to go through under enforcement discretion, if they’re very low risk to patients, what that means is right, they haven’t gone through those clinical trials and haven’t necessarily been proven safe and effective. So because of that, you could be using an app that has been developed by a tech founder who has no medical background, or no medical knowledge, right. And they’re sourcing things from the internet, not to say definitely not saying that all femtech apps and breastfeeding are like that there are some really good devices, right, the products that come out on the market there, a lot of them have been FDA reviewed clinical trials. But I would look into that, if you’re considering using an app, I would try and get more information on how it was created or vetted, to make sure that you’re using something that’s going to be accurate and reliable for your needs.
Jacqueline Kincer 38:57
Hmm, yeah, I love that. I appreciate you saying that, because there’s already such a huge lack of research about so many things involving breastfeeding and lactation. And it really is something I mean, I think we know as women if we’ve men straighted, that it varies so much from person to person. Lactation varies so much from person to person, but lactation is also something that we have some like non biological control over. And so there’s choice in what you want lactation to look like, which adds a whole other factor, which is like really difficult to control for. So I just wanted to point that out. Because even if you could get like the, you know, figure out someone’s let’s say, milk production rate, right? Well, if they didn’t pump for that day, that milk production rate is going to change the next day and you can’t depend on that number. So like not saying that they’re using that but just an example. Right? So it’s far more complex in some ways than a menstrual cycle, just because we’re not telling our bodies like You don’t have to, like extract the blood manually like we do the
Bethany Corbin 40:04
well, and that’s, that’s interesting to think to write is really what is what is the underlying data that they are using to fund and kind of propel these algorithms? And of course, they’re not going to tell you, right, they’re gonna be like, Oh, that’s proprietary, right? We don’t we don’t want that. Feeling it. But on the second, you know, the other hand, how do you know that it is reliable? How do you know it’s using a reliable method? I think the apps you know, that are, that tend to be more in conjunction with like a telehealth platform, those tend to be more accurate because they have clinician involvement. Or they’re using the data to fuel the standard of care, right for the clinician that you’re seeing. Some of the apps do have lactation consultants, right, or other types of clinicians involved, those are going to tend to have higher accuracy ratings, just you know, from a high generalized level than something that you get on the app store, right, that lets you kind of input your data and give you predictions for the next day.
Jacqueline Kincer 40:58
Oh, absolutely. And to just even think forward about things, whether it’s that technology, but even really, the laws and things, what do you think the future holds for breastfeeding laws in the US? And even, you know, looking forward at some of those technological advancements?
Bethany Corbin 41:16
Yeah, I think we’re on the right track, I was thrilled to see the pump app come through to see it clear up that legal technicality that really should never have existed in the first place. It’ll be interesting to see what other types of of laws come in. On the federal level, we’ve seen a lot of state law activity, just because, you know, the way that the federal laws work is typically they won’t preempt state laws if the state laws offer more protections. So that’s why we kind of see this federal state Interplay here. I, you know, I, I’m really excited to kind of see how technology evolves into this space, because I think there’s so much more we can do if we do it, right. In FinTech, you know, I think Breastfeeding has been one of those areas where technology really wasn’t introduced until a late stage, you know, because, right, I mean, how do you have to have technology in this area? No, you know, when they’ve been doing it for centuries without technology, but it’s something that now that we are adopting technology to breastfeeding, there’s so many different applications and ways to create personalized medicine. And that’s really where I hope the future goes forward is the creation of these personalized solutions. Based on the women’s health data, we gather from, you know, the different pumps that might be able to, you know, provide innovative data to professionals, right, or the different type of you know, nipple covers or things like that, I think that we have a huge opportunity to gain insights that will fuel clinical research down the line. And then for me, right, making sure that we have those federal or state laws that are protecting that data. That’s another huge issue. You know, it goes a little bit beyond just breastfeeding laws in general. But as we start to get breastfeeding, health data and digital health for that field, I want to make sure that we have privacy protections, and in a good kind of privacy security infrastructure that’s going to protect women’s health data.
Jacqueline Kincer 43:07
Hmm, ya know, lots lots to consider and hopefully look forward to. And, you know, I’d love to know, are there any resources or organizations that you would recommend for those that are interested in learning more about breastfeeding laws and Women’s Health Innovations?
Bethany Corbin 43:24
Oh, yes, there are so many resources, and I’m happy to share them with you as well. So there is the National Conference of State Legislatures and CSL, they have a brief on breastfeeding state laws, which is really interesting. In addition, the Department of Labor also has a lot of information on employment issues that are related to pregnancy or birth and nursing. So that is a great resource, we have women’s health.gov. That is been fantastic, kind of for both employees and employers, it’s kind of a breastfeeding, what you need to know if you’re an employer or an employee. So that is a really good article. They have a bunch of different kind of like q&a formats there. So that has been one that I have used before. And then I believe American progress.org has kind of like a five fun facts about the pump acts. So that could be for anybody who’s really interested in learning more at a higher level about what the pump pack protects.
Jacqueline Kincer 44:27
Oh, that’s awesome. I’ll make sure we link those up in the shownotes for people so that they were like, Wait, hold on. I’m doing the laundry right now. And I can’t go there.
Bethany Corbin 44:37
So make sure you have those links. Yeah, thank
Jacqueline Kincer 44:40
you. And then yeah, just you know, lastly, I’d love to hear your closing thoughts or insights to share with our listeners, whether it’s just you know, things that you’ve seen along the way in the work that you do, or just anything you’d really like to share in terms of advice or encouragement.
Bethany Corbin 44:58
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I I would say that as women, right, our health is not niche. For so long, we have been viewed as having healthcare problems that, you know, we can just extrapolate what has been learned from the male body as if we are many men with reproductive organs that differ. That’s not the case. And finally, society, and the health industry is starting to recognize that, but we have to keep pushing for those solutions, whether it be you know, in the field of breastfeeding, whether it be in the field of reproductive health care, or menopause, as we continue to age and grow. I think that as consumers, we have to demand those solutions. And we’ve seen consumer demand. And that is really what’s driving the field. Right now. We’re seeing innovations in menopause and longevity, for the first time, that really started just last year. So I would always encourage women, you know, not to feel as if our health doesn’t matter. Don’t you know, if you feel like you’re being gas lit by your physician, find another one. Because your intuition is oftentimes, right, you have a right to feel, however you are feeling you have a right to be concerned about any symptoms you’re having. So I would just absolutely encourage you to be the advocate for your own health care, and to really ensure that we continue to drive from tech forward. Because even if we do have solutions, right, that might not be accurate right now. We’re still driving towards a much better future for women’s health. And I think I think we can get there, we just need more support.
Jacqueline Kincer 46:24
Oh, beautifully said could not agree more seriously. You’re the best. Bethany, thank you so much for sharing your expertise. And you’re really everything you’ve had to say is does so much for empowering breastfeeding moms, for empowering employers. Hopefully, there are some that will listen to this. You know, just feel free to like leave this, you know, podcast episode visible when you’re at work. But yeah, I really, wow, you’ve given them so much insight. I’ve learned something. Lots of things today. And so yes, you’re an incredible resource. And where can people find you and connect with you? Because I know you’ve got some social media and whatnot, and you share a lot of great things there as well.
Bethany Corbin 47:13
Oh, absolutely. And thank you so much for those kind words, that is so sweet. And I’m just thrilled to share my expertise and hopefully empower women, you know, to kind of know their rights and really go after them. I am the founder and CEO of FEM innovation. So you can find me at www dot FEM innovation.com. I am also very active on LinkedIn. So just be linkedin.com/bethany Corbin and then I am also gearing up on Instagram that is new for me. So you can follow me on Instagram at at FEM tech lawyer.
Jacqueline Kincer 47:46
Very cool. We’ll link that up in the show notes for everyone as well. Thank you so much for joining us, Bethany. You’re just so wonderful and so knowledgeable and thank you everyone for listening.
In this informative episode, host Jacqueline is joined by attorney Bethany Corbin to discuss women’s legal rights when it comes to breastfeeding. Many new moms are unsure of their ability to breastfeed in public, at work, and other places, and Bethany helps break down the laws to empower women in their breastfeeding journey.
As a healthcare innovation and femtech (female health technology) attorney, Bethany Corbin is on a mission to help thought-leading companies revolutionize the global women’s health sector. She is the founder of FemInnovation, which helps founders, clinicians, politicians, and advocates transform and disrupt “standard” care delivery for women’s health through specially tailored legal and educational programs, thought leadership, and advocacy. Bethany also founded the first law firm in the U.S. dedicated to exclusively serving women’s health innovators.
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- How women are protected when they breastfeed in public
- What the PUMP Act is and how it is essential for breastfeeding mothers
- About new digital health innovations for breastfeeding mothers
- What you should do if you feel you’ve been denied your right to breastfeed in public or at work legally
A glance at this episode:
- [3:56] Breastfeeding laws in the US
- [8:12] Breastfeeding in public spaces
- [13:01] Break time for nursing mothers at work
- [16:49] Key provisions of the FLSA
- [23:41] How to work with your company if you are a nursing mother
- [27:18] How the law applies to remote jobs
- [31:57] Innovation in the breastfeeding space
- [38:57] The lack of research on breastfeeding and lactation
- [43:44] Advice on protecting women’s health data
- Feminnovation Website (Website is currently under construction, but will be back up soon)
- Bethany’s LinkedIn
- Bethany’s Instagram
- American Progress Article – 5 Facts About the PUMP Act
- Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women’s Health
- Department of Labor – Employment Issues Related to Pregnancy, Birth & Nursing
- Department of Labor – FAQs on Pumping Breastmilk at Work
- National Conference of State Legislatures
- Supplement Bundle
- Shop our Amazon Store
- Holistic Lactation Website
- Discount on Products Use Code ‘PODCAST15’
- Follow on Instagram
- Book an Appointment
- 🍼 If you are truly struggling with breastmilk production, check out our Advanced Lactation Formula supplement or consider booking a Low Milk Supply Consultation or Pumping Consultation with us
- 🤱If you are experiencing clogged ducts, engorgement, or mastitis, check out our Lactation Flow Formula supplement or consider booking a General Breastfeeding Consultation with us
- 📚 Looking for more trusted knowledge and a deep dive on how to know what’s what with breastfeeding and how to overcome problems? Check out our support community The Nurture Collective®
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