Mom Breastfeeds in Church & Brings Upon Herself the Wrath of God

Rant 46

breastfeedingSo, breastfeeding in church. Okay for the Virgin Mary, but not okay for Mary Smith? My Mormon friends are all a-buzz over a mom who got in trouble for breastfeeding her baby in church services. The mom wants to remain anonymous, but her friend wrote about her story for the blog Feminist Mormon Housewives.

Reportedly, the breastfeeding mom was removed from her volunteer position as a youth leader. And if she does it again? She could lose certain privileges she's worked hard to earn. Harsh! Correct me if I'm wrong here, but we're talking about a church, aren't we?

Okay, a little context. Most Mormon churches, like other churches all over, usually have a special room set aside for nursing moms. Sound for services is usually piped in. Or, you can nurse in the lobby outside the chapel, where there are usually sofas. But I always assumed that was for moms who wanted more privacy -- not to protect everyone else from the "disturbing" horrors of witnessing a mother feed her baby.

Here's LDS spokesman Scott Trotter with a statement: "Countless thousands of mothers have been accommodated in church for generations, simply by everyone observing common sense, discretion, and respect. We have received no information about this incident." Wow, condescending much, Scott? Guess you didn't consider your tone before you sent that one out. Hello, PR 101 -- you did know news outlets would be reading this, right?

Look, I'm sure this mystery breastfeeding mom was being reasonably discreet. She was probably appropriately dressed. And she just wanted to feed her baby without having to go hide herself as if nursing is something to be ashamed of. Like breastfeeding is "unclean," somehow -- and not a shining example of a mother nurturing her child!

When I was growing up Mormon many years ago, it was boob, boob, boob, boob, boob, boob, boob, boob, boob, boob, everywhere, all the time, because every single mom we knew was always breastfeeding a baby. (Or so it seemed.) The sight of breastfeeding mothers normalized breastfeeding for me. I grew up assuming I would make the same choice as a mother. And since I witnessed breastfeeding from a young age, it's always seemed like a very innocent, non-sexual thing to me. I think it's actually helpful for kids to be exposed to the sight of breastfeeding moms! Especially at church, where we learn about caring for others.

So who are church leaders protecting, really, when they punish women for breastfeeding in church? Gross, leering men who find even a nursing mom covered in spit-up and sporting sister wife hair and an ankle-length A-line khaki skirt distracting? I think we've got things turned around, here. I think if you have a problem with breastfeeding moms, you're the one who needs to go into a special room and, I don't know, play with yourself or pray until you get it out of your system.

We're living in an age where it's actually HARD to get people to show up to church. Shouldn't churches be more open-minded and go out of their way to make people feel more welcome? Shouldn't churches make it easier for families to participate as much as possible? And finally, God is not offended by the sight of a mother breastfeeding her baby. So the rest of us shouldn't be, either.

Do you think it's all right to breastfeed in church?


Image via Daquella manera/Flickr

breastfeeding, in the news


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Flori... Floridamom96

This is an extremely vague claim with no real information provided. Anyone can claim to have been done wrong and CafeMom will report it as truth. I do not believe this story is accurate. My guess is that IF there is ANY truth at all to this story the problem is that she is intentionally being immodest. Modesty is big part of the Mormon religion. However, I do not for minute believe that she has been threatened in the ways her friend claims.

I did not find the church's statement to be condescending at all. It sounds like you have a personal beef with the church.

wdenise wdenise

Thank you, Floridamom96. I completely agree.

Lynette Lynette

I am an LDS/Mormon woman.  I breast feed in church every week, no cover, in the pews, in class with others, wherever I am when baby gets hungry.

nonmember avatar sam

This sounds like a bunch of "much to do about nothing". Of course Mormon women have been breast feeding in church for going on 200 years. It's called modesty, and consideration for those around you. I certainly don't want to be sitting in church and have to see the young mother to my right or left exposing her boob every sunday. It looks to me like this "femenist" group is trying to create a big blanket issue where there really isn't one.

nonmember avatar Suzy

I have nursed three kids, till two and a half years old plus some, all over LDS buildings without an issue. I know many moms who have done the same. I hope that there is more to this. While my experience being Mormon is full of flawed leaders, very few did not possess good hearts and willingness to serve our congregation. Let's hope that if this is a tale of misguided leadership, that they quickly learn from this debacle. If it turns out to be a story about a rebellious mom who's intentions are to just stir things up.....well, guess she will have to learn to spend more time in the nursing room that smells like dirty diaper?

nonmember avatar Amanda

I am a Mormon, breastfeeding woman with a 5 month old, and I have never had a problem at church (I have nursed during meetings with a cover and in the nursing lounge), nor do I know anyone else who has ever had a problem. This is an isolated incident, and does not represent the experiences of the women in the church at large. I also didn't feel like the statement was condescending, I thought it was "Use common sense and govern yourselves."

bills... billsfan1104

I agree with Florida Mom.

Rosem... RosemaryFrancis

I've never heard of this happening before within the church.  I'm LDS as well.  From my experience growing up, the women usually either covered up with a blanket or went outside in the foyer or in a mother's nursing room.  If anyone did nurse in public or in a class, no one ever said anything or threatend her about the incident.  Like Floridamom96 pointed out, it sounds like this is a claim that may have only happened once or not all facts are there.  We celebrate motherhood, parenthood for that matter, in the church....can't ever imagine anyone giving a mother grief for taking care of and feeding her baby the way she feels is right. 

Missi... MissiQuinn

I'm not Mormon, and I didn't think it was condescending at all. I feel like the author is looking for a reason to be offended based on her personal prejudices.

tuffy... tuffymama

This doesn't jibe with what I know of Mormons and the breastfeeding-friendly culture they seem to promote amongst themeselves. There have to be details missing. Years ago, before my family left the LDS church, my grandmother nursed my uncle in church until he was two, way back in the fifties. I know this because his hilarious requests for breastmilk in the midst of services are something of family lore now.

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