Monday, June 21, 2010

"You Shouldn't Nurse HERE" Christians and Breastfeeding

I was at a family gathering over the weekend. In the past at family gatherings I've taken my baby to a quiet room to nurse. My babies (so far) are horribly distractable between the ages of 2-8months. No milk gets in to them when we're around a lot of people. And a lot of milk gets all over the place (ergh overactive let down!). I'm practically flashing every one with all the popping on and off nonsense. It's not discreet or comfortable for me. But on top of that, it's kind of where I've been more-or-less told to nurse my baby. "Oh she's hungry? You can go nurse her back in ______'s bedroom."

But now my baby is a whopping 10 months and she could nurse through anything. When she's hungry or tired: she could care less what is going on around her. We're in a good stage, and it's pretty discreet. We can even nurse in some positions that it looks like she's just snuggling with me, not the normal "cradle hold" deal. I love this age: they are so babyish still and snuggly. But big enough to get creative with how you nurse. Yet small enough where you aren't getting the "nursing a toddler" grief (at least in my circle).

So we were at a family Birthday party on Saturday evening and Ami was getting tired. I was visiting with my sister and 2 [female] cousins in this little side room (that was still kind of open to the rest of the party but more quiet) and I pulled Amity in to nurse. The reaction I got kinda made me sad. My sister said, "Are you sure you don't want to move over into that corner so no one out there can see?" I told her we were fine and she (and my cousins a bit) got uncomfortable. Awkward silence.

Thankfully my cousin A restarted the conversation she's second oldest of 6 kids and she remembers her Mom nursing I guess.

But really? 1) I would have to move from the comfortable couch to a folding chair, to nurse "in the corner" and 2) what is the big deal? No one but my sister (who was sitting right next to me) got a flash of any thing. And come on, I've changed in front of her thousands of times. 3) Amity was hungry...She pulls a bit of drama (quite loudly!) when she's nursing and forced to stop. It would have been a big deal to move and drawn more attention.

It bugged me. I hate how just because I'm a nursing Mother I'm expected in "certain circles" to step out and nurse my baby else where. Like I said, when my babies are young I don't mind all the time...It's a pain when baby is popping off and milk is spraying every where. But every where, mainly in Christian circles (specifically at church) breastfeeding Mom's are told where to nurse. At our old church it was this back corner of the nursery with this half wall built up. On top of the half wall there was a little paper sign that read, "Caution: Nursing Mother!"
It made me feel like I was doing some thing weird. Or like they needed to warn that some one was showering back there. Avert your eyes!!!

At our new church they are a little nicer. We get a whole room to ourselves with a TV to watch the service. No babies allowed in the service after worship: too distracting. I won't get started on that (it's a whooole different conversation!). But really?! Why this attitude? Is my sliver of breast (that may or may not even show) really going to cause a man to stumble? Really? Nursing breasts aren't all that pretty I gotta say. I won't go into details but I find the new set I've gotten since I had kids not nearly as sexy. Beautiful in their own way, sure but some things got big (huuuge), darker and kinda scary looking. Just sayin.

Which leads me to this wonderful post written by a Christian Father. He makes some excellent points.

In closing I wish I had the guts to nurse where ever I wanted. I do nurse in public. I've even nursed on the floor of the House of Representatives when we were in Washington D.C. a few years ago (long story but my oldest is probably the only baby in history to do so?). I nurse in slings and carriers. I nurse a lot of places if my baby is hungry. I love the looks of horror on peoples faces when they come over to look at my quiet"sleeping" baby in the sling or MT stroke her head and THEN realize "ooooh there's a bit of breast!" :0D

But when it comes to church and other places where Christians gather, I just feel like I'd be crossing a big line. A line filled with things I'm not willing face...Maybe after my third, or fourth baby I'll be so busy that it'll just have to be the fact? Just having one baby in tow will be a luxery? I do hate feeling like a bit of a leper "Oh this is where the nursing mother's go [insert uncomfortable tone here]. You can't hang out with the rest of us, you might cause some one to stumble, sorry."

This was another great article about Breastfeeding in Church. And with that I think I'll go drink my tea and soak up the rest of nap time. It'll be over all too soon.


  1. Well said! I totally agree and it makes you feel like you are doing something wrong. I hate it. Maybe with my next one Ill be more bold!

  2. *sigh*

    I unfortunately get this ALL the time (with family and friends). I, like you, nursed in a quiet, private bedroom when Miriam was little because we were still learning. Then she was super distractable. Now, she'll nurse through everything, and though I'm still nervous when I nurse around others, I do it so that people SEE that it's NORMAL and not a big deal. I think people have this thought that I'm going to first, open my bra and pull out my breast, then get the baby ready, then latch her on LOL! when they see that there is nothing to SEE, they are surprised most of the time.

    My sister's wedding is on Saturday, and it is going to be scary for me to nurse Miriam in front of all those people (I will be using my ring sling), especially since NO ONE parents the way I do and have commented MANY times about my nursing and babywearing, etc. Oh I could tell you so many, many stories :) But I will do it so maybe I can make a small difference in how nursing is seen in our society.


I love to hear from you! :0)