Public Breastfeeding Law

§ 32.1-370. Right to breastfeed.

A mother may breastfeed in any place where the mother is lawfully present, including any location where she would otherwise be allowed on property that is owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth in accordance with § 2.2-1147.1. [2015]

§ 18.2-387. Indecent exposure.

Every person who intentionally makes an obscene display or exposure of his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where others are present, or procures another to so expose himself, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. No person shall be deemed to be in violation of this section for breastfeeding a child in any public place or any place where others are present.

(Code 1950, § 18.1-236; 1960, c. 233; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1994, c. 398.)

Enforcement Provision


Workplace Pumping Law


§ 22.1-79.5. Employee lactation support policy.
Each local school board shall adopt a policy to set aside, in each school in the school division, a
non-restroom location that is shielded from the public view to be designated as an area in which any
mother who is employed by the local school board or enrolled as a student may take breaks of
reasonable length during the school day to express milk to feed her child until the child reaches the age
of one.

Enforcement Provision

None stated.

21 Responses to “Virginia”

  1. Jessica says:

    I worked at a small business in northern Virginia when I pumped in 2006/07. I had no problems but I had to ask for everything, including space and time. My supervisor was supportive of bringing my child to work and also pumping at work for about 18 months.

    I’ve breastfed two children a little bit of everywhere in northern Virginia and I haven’t had any problems or comments.

  2. Stephanie G. says:

    The only place I have ever had a negative comment made was at church. My pastor actually asked me not to nurse in the sanctuary. I respectfully declined her suggestion and I do continue to nurse my children during services.

  3. Milly says:

    I work at Walmart and they have told me i am not allowed to pump in the employee areas even while covered with nursing wrap. and they will not provide a space for me to pump.

  4. Sandra says:


    Try pumping in your car, it is a pain but the madela pump has a car adapter available and just leave the cooler with ice and your pump in your car, especially in the cooler months. Also in a pinch try a manual pump and use the wheelchair stall in the bathroom, again not ideal but better than nothing.

  5. S says:

    @ Admin and Milly,

    But this website sites the Fair Labor Standards Act. My understanding is that all federal laws apply to States.

    Section 7(r) of the Fair Labor Standards Act – Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision
    Effective March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the FLSA to require employers to provide a nursing mother reasonable break time to express breast milk after the birth of her child. The amendment also requires that employers provide a place for an employee to express breast milk.
    Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 207) is amended by adding at the end the following:…

    • admin says:

      Yes but see this site’s page on the federal law. The FLSA amendment has no mechanism for enforcement. So, unless a woman is fired and seeks lost wages, there is no action the Department of Labor is empowered to take.

  6. Kendra says:

    So under the Virginia law a workplace is not required to provide you with a room/location where you are able to pump/breast feed? I work in the healthcare system and was told to go to my car to pump. unfortunately, random people walk past the cars (some who aren’t apart of the facilities) and can see everything. So what do we, as breast feeding mothers, rate in the work place other than substantial time to express the milk?

    • admin says:

      You have it right. Virginia law is absolutely dreadful for breastfeeding and pumping women. You can file a complaint with the federal Department of Labor (fee the Federal Law page on this site) but there is nothing federal law can do for you at the present time unless you are fired and want lost wages.


  7. Andrea says:

    I’ve been told recently that I may not breastfeeding in the public school cafeteria where my older children attend school. I’m trying to weed through the legal jargon on who “owns, leases, or controls” the school property – as I’m being told that the laws do not apply to the school.

    • admin says:

      This is an area that is largely unresolved in the law unfortunately but usually it involves whether schools are public accommodations or not. Because of the peculiarities of Virginia’s public breastfeeding law, the question is instead “is this Virginia state property.” I am afraid of no of no law interpreting this and it would be a state law question under Virginia law. If at all possible check with a Virginia attorney about the definition of state owned property.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. :(

      • Andrea Stokes says:

        Wow. Everyone posts this code thinking its protecting them, but it’s not!!! Do you have any recommendations on attorneys or how to find one? I’m so frustrated, disheartened and mad!!!

  8. Clarissa Hicks says:

    Wow… So I just want to get this straight. If I’m in a public place that is not state property (for example, Target) and the manager approaches me and tells me that I cannot breastfeed in public there, I have no choice but to leave? I didn’t realize Virginia state breastfeeding laws were so terrible!

    • admin says:

      Correct. Quite bluntly, Virginia law sucks big time. :(

      • Bonnie says:

        I also live in Northern VA, and this is the way it was explained to me: while the law only explicitly protects nursing on VA state-owned property, there is also not a law anywhere in VA that says nursing is illegal. It’s sort of like wearing red pants: there’s no law in VA that protects wearing red pants, but neither is there one that says it’s illegal to wear red pants anywhere in the Commnwealth. A silly comparison, I know, but it helps me to feel less vulnerable when nursing in public (which I do routinely and with which, thankfully, I haven’t had any trouble). Hope that helps :)

        • admin says:

          Good analogy (I use “blue eyes”). But keep in mind that it is completely legal to discriminate against people wearing red pants or having blue eyes. So while you can’t be arrested for wearing red pants (or breastfeeding in public), you can be discriminated against and/or asked to leave a public accommodation. Just because there is no law against something, doesn’t mean someone else is prevented from exercising a right of theirs (like property ownership) that effectively makes doing your legal something impossible.

          Clear as mud?

  9. angela maines says:

    Is there anyone progressively trying to change this for nursing mothers? I would love to see this law revamped.

    • admin says:

      Contact your state breastfeeding coalition or Michelle Hickman at Best for Babes. I don’t personally know of anyone working on a new Virginia law and it certainly needs doing.