Kate Frederick was fired two years ago when she found her employer would not accommodate her breastfeeding needs. As is common when nursing children transition to a bottle, her son refused it, and so it was necessary that Kate be with him to feed. Given that his daycare was but two minutes away, Kate asked for her (then) employer, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, to extend the allotted 15 minute break by an additional 15 minutes so she could breastfeed. Her employer refused and told Kate to stay home until she could stay at work without leaving, but then fired her for being absent.
New Hampshire’s laws – similar to those of most states – mandate that an employer offer reasonable break time and space for mothers to “express milk.” These laws are designed for the working mother who uses a breast pump, but do not specify accommodations for breastfeeding. The challenges of breastfeeding are vast and varied, but the existing laws to support breastfeeding are not. A recent research article put forth by the University of Minnesota highlights that even the laws intended to accommodate a nursing mother are only effective for 40% of working women nationally.
Kate Frederick has since transitioned her career to transform this reality. Today Kate is the president of New Hampshire’s Breastfeeding Rights Coalition, as well as a member of MA & D.C Breastfeeding Coalitions, Breastfeeding USA and Attachment Parenting International. She runs a business, Rustik Events, which houses The Rustik Baby Project: a project dedicated purely to providing services to nursing mothers as well as lobbying for legislation, and everyday advocating for nursing mothers’ rights.
One of The Rustik Baby Project’s biggest events is The Big Latch On: an event that originated in New Zealand, with the objective of raising awareness about breastfeeding and what rights and laws do (and do not!) exist to support breastfeeding. The Rustik Baby Project hosted a Big Latch On event in Concord, NH. Watch this video, by Scott Barber Films, for a great overview of how The Big Latch On brings communities together to support breastfeeding.
Thank you, Kate, for your incredible perseverance and leadership!