CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Samantha Stewart never questioned whether she would breast-feed her children once she became a mother.
The 35-year-old Elkview mother of four is pregnant with twins and plans to nurse them as she did her other children.
"God created our bodies perfectly," Stewart said. "They were designed to feed our children with complete nutrition."
The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee will consider a bill next week that would allow new mothers such as Stewart to breast-feed in public. Stores, restaurants even daycares could not ask them to stop.
Another bill introduced this week would excuse a nursing mother from jury duty.
West Virginia is one of about four states that do not protect a woman's right to breast-feed in public. Nebraska passed a similar public-nursing law last year and Michigan considered a law to excuse nursing mothers from jury duty.
Choosing to breast-feed is a big commitment for mothers who will need to take care of their babies whether they are at work, the mall or at home. Many women don't want the hassle or to feel uncomfortable feeding their children in public, so they turn to baby formula instead.
Stewart doesn't let a shopping trip stop her from feeding her children. The legislation under consideration in the state Senate would encourage more women to make that commitment to breast-feed, she said.
"Everybody has the right to eat that should be no different for an infant," Stewart said. "A woman has the right to breast-feed her child, no matter where she's at."
Stewart said she would not be able to serve on a jury unless the court would let her twins come into the courtroom with her. Babies need to eat every 20 minutes to 3 hours, she said, and a nursing mother needs to be nearby or able to pump her milk periodically.
That time commitment often spurs mothers to stop nursing, especially when they return to work because some employers offer nowhere for women to pump, said Dawn Kinser, a registered nurse and certified lactation consultant at Cabell Huntington Hospital.
Also, Kinser said, if a woman has a busy job and can't pump often enough, her milk will dry up.