About Me

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Nebraska, United States
A would-be stay at home mom working full-time as a teacher. I teach at my old Highschool, working side-by-side with my own teachers. I blog to keep the Texan grandparents updated and chronicle our life for future reference. (In other words, I don't have a real baby-book or diary.) Comments make my day. Thanks for stopping by! kimlepper at gmail.com

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Nursing in Church

I had a question/dilemma for my readers.

I'm not one to adapt to social demands because of "looks" or disapproving comments. And dissenting comments here probably won't change my habits either (unless given with a large sum of cash).

But I like to know when I'm being facetious.* It's so much more fun when you're "in the know". So here it goes:

When Samantha was 3 weeks old, I remember a mom sitting behind us in church with a simple, large blanket, nursing her son. The only reason I noticed her was because I had to get up and nurse my own in the bathroom (I was still learning and needed to see what I was doing). I was very jealous (and impressed) and wondered if I would ever get to that point; that is, comfortable enough to nurse in public, and smooth enough so as not to flash the whole congregation.

Fast forward to now. I have to say I'm quite proud of myself. Sam and I have the whole visually appeasing routine down pat. However, with as loud as Samantha eats (and demands to eat) one may as well have x-ray vision. There's no question as to what is going on under the blanket.

Because of this, when at our parish (the one with the cry-room) I will nurse in the back or in the cry room itself. When at the other parish (the one with no cry-room) I've decided it's more distracting to get up and find a place while she's begging to nurse then to just let her eat in the pew.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I was at the church with the cry-room, but I was smack dab in the middle of the pew. I ended up just nursing her there. Sam was actually fairly quiet (despite a couple suction-cup like pull offs). Whilst doing so I got many different looks. One lady smiled knowingly. A few quickly looked away. My favorite was the glare-from across the church.

Anyway, my question to you all is, what do you think is appropriate for church? Even if you yourself wouldn't do it, is it ok for other moms who feel comfortable?

And what do you do if there isn't somewhere you can go?

And if there is a cry-room, is it kosher to nurse in there? (for reasons why it's worse a lot of times in a cry-room, see here and here)

Ok, that was more than one question, but take your pick!

*thank you, spell check- I was WAY off


Aaron said...

Yes, it's appropriate to nurse in church or in the cry room. I think you're right to sit in the back and otherwise try not to disturb people, but assuming you're not being disruptive, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Isn't the Church always yammering on about being open to life...?

Jacquie Schlee said...

I seem to remember a lesson from Jesus saying "judge not lest ye be judged". People may not like it, but you are doing what is best for your baby, and who gives a flying hoot as to what they think! Keep breastfeeding if you feel comfortable with it. I never was in public, but that is me.

Kati said...

I always tried to nurse right before Church, and that worked well for us. I think I had to nurse in Church only 1 or 2 times with both my kiddos and I think I used the bathroom. I've never yet been comfortable enough. I say if you are comfortable enough to do it discreetly, go for it. There will always be someone in Church who doesn't approve of something you are doing, so try not to let the dirty looks bother you. :)

Sandra said...

I believe that mother’s are to look to Our Lady and the many Saints who were mothers as an example. One of the beautiful characteristics of those women was modesty. They nursed their babies and babies were colicky back then just as they are now.
I have always done my best to nurse my babies immediately before Mass. There is no health or psychological reason that a baby can not go an hour to an hour and a half without being nursed. This is a mother who has nursed all three babies and all three have been intolerant to food groups. Also, if there is no cry room, I on many occasions would go downstairs to the church hall, find a chair in a little corner, cover up and nurse away. In fact many times I would go nurse my baby in the van.
I think nursing is very beautiful and important and am very thankful I have been blessed to be able to nurse my babies. However, it makes me uncomfortable at the idea of nursing in a pew. The risk of immodesty is not proportionate to the benefit of feeding on demand at church, as church (should not) be a last minute decision but something that is usually planned ahead.
I'm not telling other women what to do, this is simply how I reasoned through why I do what I do.

Kim said...

I've tried the whole nursing before church. It works sometimes, but she's gotten to the point where if she's not hungry she'll bite me. :S (any tips on that would be GREAT btw!)

Also, when she gets tired she wants to nurse. And Mass times are either during a nap or very near one. And when she wants to nurse there is very little that will deter this child.

I'm hoping when she's older and can understand us more it will be easier?

margieschlee@yahoo.com said...

Jacquie sure did sum it up.
Jesus saying "judge not lest ye be judged".
I remember walking through the mall with your mom she was always so comfortable nursing in public and very discreet. It is a natural thing & to hide it is like we are embarrassed.
I believe you should do whatever makes you comfortable it is a part of nature.

Kim said...

that's defiantly where I get my comfortableness from. My mom has scrapbooked about nursing and Jeremy even MET my mom while she was nursing Lucy.

So I guess if anyone has any issues with it, I can just blame her, right? :)

That Married Couple said...

I'm glad you posted on this, because I've wondered what I would do myself. As long as a woman is trying to be discreet, I'd probably be impressed with her nursing during mass. However, I don't know how comfortable I will feel doing it myself.

sarah e. said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with nursing in church. Babies need to eat and they need to bond. My son is 17 months old and still getting most of his food this way. (He also has food intolerances, which is a big part of this.) For the first 4 months he needed me to use a silicon nipple shield that I got really good at slipping on and off discreetly. I have nursed him in the pew, in confessionals, in a cry room/lobby, and in the back of the church. Where I go sometimes depends on the situation-- is he actually hungry, or could just use a quick snack and a cuddle? He IS getting to the point where I can begin teaching him to wait, but I'd much rather see him nurse quietly than run around or cry out of boredom. I think that it's great to respect the general attitude of others, but you're not doing anything wrong so long as you are not TRYING to disturb everyone. And just think-- the more you nurse during Mass, the more confident the nervous mom-to-be in the next pew may become about the whole process! ...Hope this helps you a little. I saw your comment on facebook about this question!

sarah e. said...

P.S. To any mother who is nervous about nursing in church or any other public spot, I can think of two things that make your life a lot easier: 1) a husband to help shield you and to help drape a blanket in the early months when you feel like you need both hands and 2) nursing covers like this one: http://shop.bebeaulait.com/originals

Mammasita said...

What a great post Kim! With each child and each church we have done things differently. Interestly enough, it is my second that we nurse in the bathroom and my first in the pew. With #1 we were discreet and I felt that we were there to go and be at Mass, to witness the most amazing mircale of the Eucharist. I do feel I am removed from Mass in the bathroom or cryroom at our church, however with number two he needs more wiggle room. We too try to nurse before hand, but there are times when it is necessary to do so during Mass. I think it is very apporiate to nurse in Mass or in public as long and you are comforatable and modest. Nursing is more than just for the baby's hunger, but for comfort also. I know for my boys if they are achey, tired or teething, nursing soothed them. There are hundreds of images of Our Lady and Baby Jesus nursing and the Milk Grotto in Bethelem stands where Mary was nusing Jesus and her milk spilled, changing the rock to white. Our Lady nursed the Savior of the World and there is nothing to be ashamed of or embrassed about when nursing. Just be modest. Sometimes modesty dictates that we leave the room other times we can nurse comfortably in whatever activity we are doing.

Sandra said...

In regards to the comments about judging others. If a woman chooses to be discreet and does not want to risk exposing a private area of her body while nursing, don't judge her by presuming she is embarrassed. I have nursed in public, very discreetly (and by discreetly I mean that I know my child will not pull off the blanket or try to look around etc.) and in an environment that is most comfortable and what I determine appropriate for ME and my baby.

The fact of the matter is there are many people who would be uncomfortable if they are around someone nursing and it is only charitable to CONSIDER those around you and how it might make them feel. Considering those people does not mean doing what they may want. You simply think about others and the environment you are in before making a decision. Maybe I should do a post Kim! :-)

Mammasita said...

I too second Sarah's advice about help from a husband and the nursing cover! Also about witnessing too nervous nursers and nurser-to-be. Watching my sister nurse so fluidly helped boost my confindence.

Kim said...

Jer saw what a great help a friend of ours was to his wife while nursing and was an immense help! (I couldn't do it without him at first!)

Sandra- I agree you should take into consideration those around you. I try and make sure no one is directly behind me, as that is the view most likely to see anything.

So does it bother you when someone else nurses near you or in public? What about Keith?

Sarah- that's exactly what that nursing mom behind me gave- confidence and something to aspire too :) But it's almost a catch-22. Giving confidence to one, but making another uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I won't stop doing it, but I was curious what others thought about it.

Sandra said...

I don't mind (nor does Keith) anyone nursing around me as long as they are covered up. Just as I would not want to see their cleavage (or more) from any woman based on the top she's wearing, I also don't want to see a woman exposed when she is nursing. It is simply not modest. So here I'm referring to women who don't cover up or even consider those around them. I am speaking PURELY in regards to a public setting. In my home or another woman's home if there is a risk of the side being exposed or the child pulling away abruptly and this happens I'm not offended at all. This has happened to me in my home when I have had female visitors. However, I always make a point to ask if the woman who is in my home is okay with me nursing in front of them or not. I find that simply hospitable.

It is really simple for me, modesty is in consideration based on time & place. When I had my third son, my oldest was already aware of many things. I always covered up when I nursed. I believe that it is important to teach your children that the body is beautiful and sacred, thus should be treated this way. I think many women believe that if you are modest or rather "cover up" when nursing, then it means you are not comfortable with your body or the process of nursing. This is just absurd to me and really I believe a result of the culture we live in where people have difficulty finding moderation or a balance in many things.

Keith is/was a WONDERFUL help for me with all the boys, especially Joseph, my first. Nursing him was insane at first as I literally needed Keith around when we would be out somewhere because of my c-section scar and I simply don't have fluid movement at all the first few weeks! ;-) He is of the same mindset. He is very encouraging and helpful as I nurse my babies.

This is just what I do. I am not trying to pass any judgment on what other women do. I want to be clear that regardless of where you are the two things I consider are: modesty & the comfort of those around me. Cry room, church pew, park, confessional, car, your home, etc.

This was a great post Kim. I am sorry my comments are so long. I just want to make sure I'm clear. :) I actually have started a post about nursing in general, but have been working on it and need to edit it a bit before posting...hopefully I'll get it on my blog before I have Raphael! :)

Granddad said...

How about a male point of view? Nursing is OK as long as (a) it does not disrupt the liturgy and (b) the activity is modest.

Over the years, I have had dozens of women nurse near me during Mass: I always felt a certain inner happiness knowing that new life was being cherished and sustained.

All three of my children were nursed in Mass from time to time. There are those who will always be uncomfortable.

Personally I'd rather hear the soft sounds of a contented baby than a crying one....

Ram Sam Sam

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