Public Breastfeeding Law

SECTION 1. 253.16 of the statutes is created to read:
253.16 Right to breast−feed. A mother may breast−feed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breast−feeding her child, direct a mother to move to a different location to breast−feed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breast−feeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breast−feeding her child as provided in this section.

944.17  Sexual gratification.
(1) In this section, “in public” means in a place where or in a manner such that the person knows or has reason to know that his or her conduct is observable by or in the presence of persons other than the person with whom he or she is having sexual gratification.
(2) Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor: …
(3) Subsection (2) does not apply to a mother’s breast-feeding of her child.

History: 1977 c. 173; 1983 a. 17; 1987 a. 332; 1995 a. 165.

944.20  Lewd and lascivious behavior.
(1) Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor:

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a mother’s breast-feeding of her child.
History: 1977 c. 173; 1983 a. 17; 1989 a. 31; 1995 a. 165.

948.10  Exposing genitals or pubic area.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply under any of the following circumstances:
(a) The child is the defendant’s spouse.
(b) A mother’s breast-feeding of her child.

Enforcement Provision

939.61  Penalty when none expressed.
(1) If a person is convicted of an act or omission prohibited by statute and for which no penalty is expressed, the person shall be subject to a forfeiture not to exceed $200.

Workplace Pumping Law


Enforcement Provision


23 Responses to “Wisconsin”

  1. Laurel Franczek says:

    Does a general penalty provision count as an enforcement provision? Please see the link below concerning the 2010 WI breastfeeding law which includes a $200 penalty for breaking this law.


    • admin says:

      YES, Laurel, it absolutely does. I thought I remembered Wisconsin having one but I couldn’t find it. Adding it now. Thanks!

      • admin says:

        Laurel, I still can’t find a cite to the general penalty provision that applies here. Any idea where it is?

    • admin says:

      I know but I have been searching for the statute number of the general penalty provision itself. Going nuts and I just can’t find it.

  2. j2theperson says:

    I think the general penalty provision can be found here–https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/939/IV/61

    939.61  Penalty when none expressed.
    (1) If a person is convicted of an act or omission prohibited by statute and for which no penalty is expressed, the person shall be subject to a forfeiture not to exceed $200.

  3. Joanie says:

    Are there any laws pertaining to breastfeeding or pumping while you are in jail? I’ve seen some on while in prison but not in regards to jail..

  4. Joanie says:

    Oh and this would be for the state of Wisconsin. Thank you.

  5. admin says:

    Only the state of New York has a law creating a limited right for a woman to keep her child with her if she gives birth in prison. No laws pertain to pumping and those cases are handled individually – generally the result being the incarcerated woman can not pump. No state allows women to bring infants into prison with them.

    California and Nebraska also have limited programs that allow some women who give birth in prison to keep their infants with them.

    Unfortunately, while the Nebraska population has been well studied (women who give birth in prison are something like 90% less likely to reoffend if they can keep their babies with them), there are no number available concerning breastfeeding rates among women who can keep their babies with them in prison.

  6. Amy says:

    Who enforces this? IE, is there anybody you can report someone to if they try to stop you from breastfeeding in public?

    • admin says:

      The enforcement is through a private lawsuit I believe. I am not sure of any other any to have the $200 fine imposed.

  7. Tricia Brown says:

    I am having issues at work with my boss cutting my hours because it is unfair to HIM to have to come in for 20 minutes during my shift so I can pump. He has cut them from 40 hours to 12!!! I am wondering is there anything I can do to pursue a lawsuit against him?

  8. admin says:

    Wisconsin law does not offer you protection in a workplace pumping situation. However, this is one of the instances in which the otherwise unhelpful federal law might be used. I recommend you file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor (see the Federal page of this site) as you have been effectively discharged from your original position and may be able to recover lost wages.

    Good luck!

  9. Amber says:

    What is the law regarding nursing a child at work. I am a salaried employee and they want me to leave my office, but I can go into my husbands office which is my designated pumping room to pump and nurse. Cant I nurse anywhere, or does that not apply to when you are working/on break I work at a YMCA

    • admin says:

      Yes, as long as all the criteria of privacy, etc. are met, the employer can designate where you are allowed to pump.

  10. Maite says:

    What are my rights as an Exclusive breastfeeding mom…who has a court date for misdemeanor ? (Yes, my husband is verbally abusive and yes I didnt realize trying to explain myself and placing my leg in his is car door so he would listen….well it is grounds for arrest-ugh!!)

    My son is 18months old.

    I probably will also be required to serve a day of class for the offense ….so what are my rights there as well?

    Thank you

    • admin says:

      Your breastfeeding status is irrelevant to your criminal case. Any further questions should be directed to your attorney.

  11. Makenzie says:

    I am exclusively breastfeeding my 12 week old daughter and I have never introduced formula to her. I breastfed my firstborn for an entire year. I am going thru a hostile custody battle with the father. The father has 2 hour placement with our daughter every other day. Recently, a change has been made by the Guardian ad Litem to our case without my discretion and now an overnight has been approved. I have not had adequate time to pump enough breastmilk for a 20-24 hour placement and the father consents that he would rather provide our daughter with formula. I do not approve of this and don’t appreciate my efforts to exclusively breastfeed our 2nd child being discouraged. The father is aware of my disapproval. (The Guardian is currently MIA for questioning and that’s why I’m posting here).

    I would like to know what legal actions and advocates are available to me so I don’t find myself being incriminated for not only my family value but also for the most recommended health benefit I can provide to our daughter at this time- breastfeeding. Please help!

    Thank you.

  12. Lacey says:

    Does anyone know what I should do?? I was at the walmart where i was told i couldnt feed my baby in dressing room. I told a csm but she laughed at me so i went outside to feed. They did offer me the bathroom but that is gross!!

    • admin says:

      As you can see from this page, Wisconsin does have a penalty for violating it. However, you need to consult with a Wisconsin lawyer. It is unclear how you can seek this penalty.

  13. […] I became a mom for the first time, I printed out Wisconsin’s Public Breastfeeding Law and stuck it in our diaper bag, always expecting to be harassed for nursing in public. I am pleased […]