The GEM Debate:
Say What? Breastfeeding In Church…
Is It A Do Or Don’t? (POLL)
Picture it: You have a baby. You’ve been hiding out at home for months because you’re breastfeeding and you feel more comfortable doing it at home. But you’re tired of hiding in the shadows and you’re tired of missing church. So you go to services and take your baby. You have to because you’re the one keeping your baby alive. The baby cries out in hunger. Do you A) breastfeed right where you are or B) go outside the sanctuary to nurse your baby?
Public breastfeeding is always a hot topic. People seem to fall into one of two camps: those who support it because they get that babies need to eat on demand or those whose sensibilities are offended at the few square inches of a woman’s breast that might be exposed while setting up or during feeding.
There are some people who, while they may not mind public breastfeeding, really don’t want women to do it in church. They feel women should be more modest and take it to a designated area. But then the woman misses the message, which defeats the whole purpose of going to church in the first place.
In this article, the writer explains why “the act of breastfeeding is a picture of the care God gives us.” She uses scripture to show how God describes his care for people in terms of a nursing mother. She ends with the thoughtful question, “If God sees no shame in nursing breasts, why should we?”
Elsewhere on the Internet, I found all kinds of comments in support of breastfeeding in church and those against it: Here’s a sampling (with edits for length):
“As Christians nursing moms, I think we should strive for as much modesty as is practical while also providing optimal care for our babies. As Christian fellow worshipers we should assume that nursing moms ARE doing their best, and turn our eyes and focus to the front of the sanctuary. Ultimately, it should be between the nursing mother and her husband and God to decide what level of modesty is appropriate. For the rest of us, it is our obligation to try to not be distracted at Church by nursing moms, noisy kids, kleenex rustlers, sleepers, flashy dressers, off-key singers or anyone else doing anything distracting during worship. They have as much right to be there as we do. In other words, judging nursing moms because you don’t think they are trying hard enough to be modest? Uncool, unkind, and unChristian.”
“Masturbation, urination, and defecation are also normal bodily functions. Do you want to see people doing that in public? No breastfeeding in church or anywhere else the public can see it. If we allow breast feeding in public, why stop there? Why not let people make a baby in public. To all of the above get a room!!!!”
Related: GISELE’S BREASTFEEDING BLUNDER
Having breastfed all four of my children wherever we were (yes, even twins at the same time), I’m a huge cheerleader for public breastfeeding. I support women who don’t use cover-ups while nursing. (Have you ever tried to eat dinner with a blanket over your head? Yeah, babies don’t like it either.) They tend to wear clothing designed specifically for breastfeeding or they find other ways to limit exposure.
But even if a woman doesn’t cover up at all and I do end up seeing the upper part of her chest, so what? Even if my children saw and asked questions, so what? I would just explain that breasts are for babies. Which they are, by the way. No matter how often people find themselves clutching their pearls about seeing a baby eat, the ultimate purpose of breasts is to nourish.
Because of my own experiences, I tend to notice women who are breastfeeding in religious services, at the zoo, in restaurants—wherever. I like to give a smile and nod in support. One thing they all have in common is that they are not trying to expose themselves to strangers. Despite the persistent urban myth of the WOMAN WHO WENT COMPLETELY NAKED FROM THE WAIST UP!, I have yet to see a woman make a spectacle of herself. She’s usually more concerned with taking care of her baby than putting on a show.
Those are my opinions. What are yours? Should women breastfeed in church or take it out of the room? Take the poll and share your thoughts.
Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5.