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Services for mothers may be expanded across NYC with City Council legislation

Lactation rooms in jails and public offices, as well as free diaper dispensers in city shelters and courts are among the proposals.

City shelters would be required to provide free

City shelters would be required to provide free diaper dispensers, according to a proposed bill to be voted on by the City Council on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / Steve Debenport

City Council members introduced  a package of 10 bills Wednesday to improve pre- and postnatal care for New York women.

The legislation would provide lactation rooms in jails and public offices, require businesses to detail their policies for lactation accommodations, and mandate free diaper dispensers at city shelters and courts.

City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, who gave birth to her son last summer, sponsored seven of the bills and said mothers shouldn’t have to struggle for basic services, especially breast-feeding, because of their financial situation or a lack of employer understanding.

“While everyone speaks about how great breast-feeding is, there is not much done to support what we know is the truth,” she said. “We hope these bills will make people realize this is the norm.”

One of the bills would have the city’s health department look into a program that provides expectant mothers with free or low-cost doulas. Cumbo said that, in her experience, having a person with knowledge of pre- and postnatal issues would have been beneficial.

“There are dynamics of having a baby,” she said. “You go for your doctor visits, you have your baby, and you get a check up. But there are more aspects, both physical and emotional, that a doula can help with.”

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson supports the proposed bills, saying in a statement Tuesday: “ ... Sadly we all too often fall short when it comes to supporting parents and caregivers ... This groundbreaking ‘Mother’s Day Legislative Package’ will help provide New York City families with the support they need.

An earlier version of this story should have said City Council members would be introducing the bills on Wednesday.

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