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Breastfeeding in church?

(75 Posts)
TakeLovingChances Tue 25-May-10 11:17:31

This is quite difficult for me to write, but not bad enough to need a name change. Just looking for different opinions/experiences.

DH and I have been active members in our church for 3 years, attending Sunday morning and evening services, which DH still does. We both love the people there and the worship.

Our PFB is 3-months-old and I've made the effort to get myself and him up and ready for church a handful of times. I breastfeed DS and there have been times he's needed fed when we're in the service.

Once I've sat in the car outside to feed him then I got a bit annoyed thinking that I may as well have stayed at home. More recently I've sat in the back row to feed him, but haven't felt comfortable.

I live in an area with one of the lowest bf rates ^in the world^ and there are only 3 other women I've spoken to in my congregation who bf their children years ago. There are some other children in our church a similar age to DS, they are ff.

Okay, this is getting really long.... umm, will wrap it up:

Basically, no one has said to me to not bf DS in church. But I hate the feeling that people won't sit beside or talk to me while he's feeding That makes me feel that it's not welcome so I should just stay at home.

So that's what I do. DS & I stay at home while DH goes to church.

It's having a negative effect on my faith, Bible learning and opportunities for fellowship.

Do you think I've done wrong by bfing in church, by avoiding church now, or by letting it make me sad?

I could just be sensitive with the new-mother hormones, but it had really upset me.

frakkit Tue 25-May-10 11:23:07

Noooo you're not wrong. They're the ones with the attitude problems!

I assume you're feeding discreetly with a scarfe or something over him? Maybe they think you'd appreciate the quiet/space to feed? Could you talk to some of the women who have BF?

God gave women the ability to feed their children and there's nothing wrong with BFing in church.

I think it's also normal to be upset though and I hope you can talk to someone and resolve this.

toccatanfudge Tue 25-May-10 11:23:41

I breastfed while playing the organ at church.

I don't think you've done wrong AT ALL BFing in church, thinking you should go back.

There was one man at church (great friend of mine), his wife BF all 4 of their children, but he assumed that I would want at least a little bit of privacy when I was feeding (while not sat at the organ) so he wouldn't sit near me to talk until DS3 had finished feeding.

I realised this and told him I was fine with it and he then started to talk to me while feeding

It could be that some people assume you want a little space and privacy.....

The other alternative (if you don't want to actuall talk to people about it) is to sit down and talk to people.......and then "whip 'em out" (wink)

TakeLovingChances Tue 25-May-10 11:59:58

I'm very modest about it - I wear two tops - pull one up and push one down so everything is covered.

It's odd though, as I'm not shy about bfing when out and about in public in a cafe etc, just in church. It's almost like I don't care what strangers think, but don't want to run the risk of offending people I do know.

toccat I thought I was skilled at doing tasks one handed (such as typing on MN now) but playing the organ with one hand? Wow!

I've had a bit of support from talking to older ladies who fed their kids, but I still feel a bit low about it.

I do think people assume I want privacy, but I just want to feel like I'm normal and be treated how I used to be.

maria1665 Tue 25-May-10 12:10:17

From a legal point of view (!) church and courtrooms have always been the two places women were entitled to breast feed their babies - long long before things loosened up over bfing in public. So there's a long tradition of breast feeding in church.

The only time I've ever seen a women breastfeed in court was in a country magistrates. The usher, a lovely lady who ran the local brownies, stood in front of her with her gown extended so that none of the criminals in the dock could see her!

AMumInScotland Tue 25-May-10 12:34:33

They may well just not know quite what to do or say, and fall back on the British default of pretending you can't see the thing which makes you feel that way. If there are one or two who seem to be ok, maybe you could mention it to them and say that you're feeling uncomfortable because people seem to be avoiding you.

I'm not sure if you are finding it worst during the service itself or afterwards? Presumably after, since people wouldn't really be chatting to you during the service anyway. If you get one or two "on-side" then you may find others take their lead and join in the conversation anyway.

MaryBS Tue 25-May-10 12:41:42

Like Toccata said, I reckon people thought you'd like the privacy. I don't think you're doing anything wrong by BFing in church either!

Theantsgomarching Tue 25-May-10 12:47:52

I attend a catholic church and bf'ed dd, we hadn't been for a few weeks after she was born and we bumped in to the local priest. I told him we hadn't been because dd was still feeding pretty frequently and his response was "my dear child god would be delighted to have you feed your baby at church" So I did. Discreetly. I got a few funny looks, but felt that because I had ran it by the priest, if anyone had challenged me, I could say "actually I checked with father and he assured me its okay to do so"... maybe run it by your church leader just to make yourself feel better

jeee Tue 25-May-10 12:51:18

I bf my dc in church - although I doubt anyone noticed. But if they had, I guess they'd have probably tried to give you a bit of privacy.

As an interesting aside my grandfather who was born in 1894 always told of his mother feeding her children in church - apparantly her bodice had a special slit in it to make for easy access.

Pootles2010 Tue 25-May-10 12:54:32

You're certainly not doing anything wrong. Perhaps they're just feeling a bit awkward and shy about it? And maybe they've taken you going to sit on the back rown on your own as you wanting a bit of privacy?

I bet many of them haven't even noticed what you're actually doing, especially if you're sitting behind them.

lou4791 Tue 25-May-10 13:07:54

I have brest fed in church many times. I wear clothes that enable me to feed discreetly but sit wherever I feel. I think if others sense you are uncomfortable, they will give you space rather than come up to you, just to respect your privacy. Maybe if you could possibly continue as you normally would but feeding little one when necessary without cutting yourself off, others will relax around you. I think (hope) they will take the cues from you. Good luck- you're doing really well .

SoLongAsItsHealthy Tue 25-May-10 13:22:32

I breastfed on the front row at DS's baptism recently! Right under the priest's nose. not ideal but it was either that or take him out screaming and cause an even bigger scene. We usually sit right at the back and I often have to feed him.... the priest is a lovely man though and is always offering me the confessional but that seems a bit creepy!

I take the view the House of God is the one place you can happily feed your child as He intended without worrying about what anyone else thinks. smile

mummyrex Tue 25-May-10 13:31:14

I've breastfed LOTS of times in our church (very 'High Church'), including in the front row, including when the Bishop was visiting. I am discrete and usually sit at the end away from the aisle.

Someone did point out to me once that Jesus must have been breastfed!

jeee Tue 25-May-10 13:32:35

I remember breastfeeding in an ancient crypt in Malta - as there was a wall painting of Mary feeding Jesus, I figured no-one could really take offence.

onepieceoflollipop Tue 25-May-10 13:37:31

I understand your feelings about this. fwiw I fed my dds in church, but I was always quite discreet generally. (not because I felt I ought to be, but I was more comfortable personally doing that). When dd2 was a few days old the vicar came to visit and I was feeding, he either didn't notice (or more likely) didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary.

A lady at our church has just had a baby, about 2 months old now (she is not you!)

I noticed she was bf in the little area between the church and the hall, not sure why not in the actual church. I was chatting to her, I was aware that as she is still getting the hang of feeding she was quite exposed. That didn't bother me at all. My only slight concern was that some busybody might try and make her feel uncomfortable.

nickytwotimes Tue 25-May-10 13:39:56

I agree with those who suggest that people are just giving you a bit of space.
I am expecting number 2 any day now and hope to bf successfully which will mean I will NEED to bf at mass or else I won't be able to go! I worry about it too as I also live somewhere where you see little bfing, although the rates are pretty decent. I haven't seen any other mums bfing at mass, though loads do afterwards in the hall. Obviously when the dc is bigger and more predictable, it is easy enough to bf afterwards, or before, but I kind of feel, why should they have to wait or why should I have to go elsewhere?

I'd have a word with a sympathetic parish councillor who might be able to put your mind at rest.

If it was good enough for Mary and Jesus, it's good enough for us lot. wink

Good luck. DOn;t let this put you off your faith.

JumpJockey Tue 25-May-10 13:48:56

Like jeeee says - many many churches have paintings or statues of Mary feeding Jesus. If you feel nervous you could always sit near one of those for a bit of moral support!

Seriously though I bfed dd from a very young age primarily to help keep her quiet during services. Might it work if you went to a service at a time when the baby's less likely to need feeding (if there's any kind of pattern to that by now)? People are probably trying to avoid making you feel self-conscious, rather than not wanting to sit near you because they think bfing is odd in any way. Are there any sympathtic looking older ladies you could have a word with, see if they fed their babies in church decades ago? They may well be more supportive than you expect, and a chance to coo over the baby would go down well too

MrsCadwallader Tue 25-May-10 13:52:13

Remind yourself why God gave you breasts in the first place

nickelbabe Tue 25-May-10 13:57:07

and there's the story of Moses, where his mother was employed as the wet-nurse...

i bet people just think that you're uncomfortable BFing in the church, so they give you a bit of space to do it privately.

i like JumpJockey's idea of sitting near a BFing Mary! grin

i think there's no more appropriate place to BF than in church!

FessaEst Tue 25-May-10 14:06:46

I have breast fed DD in church many, many times and have never had any kind of reaction from anyone, would be surprised if they had noticed tbh. Christmas was the first time, so I had my whole extended family there as support and at her baptism I was feeding in the front row a few feet from the priest. Whilst I was nervous about doing it the first few times, I had decided that it was something I was going to do and what i would say to anyone that was negative (Mary must have breastfed Jesus), I have always just got on with it.

I think it is really sad you don't feel able to enjoy your faith & celebrate with the congregation, and that would be more of a worry for most members of your chuch. Try speaking to the parish priest (or similar) or one of the people who organise services, readers etc (every church has someone who is very involved). Surely if your DH goes with you, he would sit and talk to you and normalise the situation?

toccatanfudge Tue 25-May-10 14:10:53

oh and don't worry about being too discreet.........I never wore "discreet" tops or nursing bras, just hitched my bra and top up over my nork and latched him on.

That backfired on me one particular hymn as in the way that only a little tiny baby can he grabbed with his tiny little hand at something and yanked it........that something was my top which was covering my nork......he yanked it up so high that he exposed my entre left breast to one side of the congregation (organ is sideways on to the congregation) and there was an abrupt halt in the music while I covered myself up again blush.

of course the organ side of the church just happens to be the side where most of the older congregation sit........most of the families sit on the other side as it's closer to the toilet and creche..........

No-one complained though grin

TakeLovingChances Tue 25-May-10 14:58:44

Some really comforting words here, thanks!

DH is in the worship group of our church so spends majority of the service up near the front, on stage or close to stage.

I think a lot of it is my self-esteem in the church. I feel like no one will care if I'm not around for a few months until I stop breastfeeding, although I know people will miss seeing DS. I haven't been for 3 weeks.

There are some people in our congregation with serious family, drug and debt problems and the Minister and leaders are keen to help them. I feel a bit kack about bringing this silly issue to them, even though it is annoying me.

Tbh, the more I think about it, it's my self-esteem that's the crux, not feeding DS

I know I've lost my way a bit recently confused just don't know how to take up the place I had before in the church, plus all my nerves about breastfeeding just make it harder.

nickelbabe Tue 25-May-10 15:07:27

yep, sounds like you need to get back into church so that you don't feel so left-out.

when you go back, i bet loads of people will comment you haven't been there.

and don't worry about taking up your Minister's time - that's what they're there for.

toccatanfudge Tue 25-May-10 16:04:31

exactly nickel - I doubt Jesus went around saying "look love, this man over here is dying, this one is blind, I can't be bothered sorting out your problem of not supplying enough wine for the guests at your wedding" wink ............and if your minister thinks like that he's in the wrong vocation smile

Lotkinsgonecurly Tue 25-May-10 16:10:50

I've bf dd in church. We arrived late one service (family service she was 3 weeks old) and pretty much bf her the whole service whilst sat right at the front! Have made sure DH was next to me and I was at the end of the pue in subsequent services.

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