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Church Culture and Breastfeeding (Synagogues, Mosques, Temples, etc. included)


What is the culture in your place of worship?  

  1. 1. What is the culture in your place of worship?

    • Mothers nurse their babies in the services.
      88
    • Mothers go to a nursery or cryroom to nurse.
      125
    • Mothers may go to the nursery or cryroom, but nurse behind a screen.
      6
    • Mothers must find some other corner of the building to nurse.
      2
    • Mothers typically or are expected to pump and bring a bottle.
      1
    • Obligatory Other.
      8


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I answered that they go to the nursery (I'd prefer a nursing room, with a speaker or preferably a live feed tv screen so they could still see/hear the service and what is going on. However, they haven't been able to do that yet.) but honestly, I don't think many people care as long as they can't see much - which logically they shouldn't. ;) But just based on the women in our church, most of them are much more comfortable going to the nursery to do it.

Edited by PeacefulChaos
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We went to one church and I told the nursery worker I needed to nurse my daughter. She looked like :001_huh: and they found me a closet to go to. Yes, a closet. It had no chair or anything. They eventually found me a chair but they made such a huge deal out of it that I felt so weird!

 

Another church had an awesome nursing room with rocking chairs and the sermon could be heard over speakers. They were super family friendly.

 

Our church now is the same way. The nursery rooms all have nursing areas in the back. I like it!

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I chose Mothers nurse their babies in the services. But really it's whatever the mother feels comfortable with. There are enough empty rooms (with chairs!) if they prefer to be alone, in the nursery is not a problem (my choice), and in/during the service is fine too - I know a few who choose this option with no issues.

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Our church has a special cry room for nursing that is right behind the sanctuary and has a window that you can see the whole service from. The room also has a speaker that you can hear the service with. I think most nursing mothers use this, but I'm sure some may nurse during the service.

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It really depends on whatever the mother is comfortable with. I've moved around a lot and even though I attend the same church (LDS) it really varies from place to place. In one congregation the norm was to just nurse without a cover right in the middle of things. (I would use a cover, but many would not). Then other places most people would use a cover, but still stay with the main group. The building I'm in now has a nursing mothers' room with rocking chairs, and that's what people usually use (some with covers, some without). But the room can be difficult to get to from some areas of the building, so sometimes we just nurse where we are.

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I nurse my babies in the main church, but I see most moms going to the back cryroom area. Our parish (I'm Catholic) has always had priests that are very supportive of babies and young children at Mass. I know a neighboring parish is not as supportive, and the moms there go into the confessional to nurse during Mass since there is no where else to go. Yikes!

 

I'm totally supportive of nursing in Mass, though I must say I once saw a mom nurse her 3-4 year old son in Mass. I thought that was a little much.

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La Leche League started out as a Catholic organization (my grandma was in it back in the days when hardly any moms BF) so the church is very pro-BF in general. I've seen moms nurse discreetly during Mass many times, though I personally feel more comfortable finding some place a bit more private.

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Our church is small enough and informal enough that I haven't noticed. ETA: I just remembered that we have a small wicker sofa in the back reserved for breastfeeding mothers.

 

That said, I prefer to stay in the service and have had issues at three churches:

 

Church 1: I was helping in the nursery and started to nursing my infant. Another worker found a baby blanket and covered me up without asking if I wanted a cover. I didn't. That child broke out in heat rash very easily, so being covered was a medical issue for her. This church had an overflow room that could have been a good cry room but it was used for storage.

 

Church 2: It was a tiny (10 families?) start up in which my husband knew the original family. I took my child to the "nursery" to nurse. A father was there watching the children. The wife of that father was quite angry that I dared to corrupt her husband and her 2 year old children with such immodesty. She was the pastor's daughter; they sided with her. We never returned.

 

Church 3: This was a large church where breastfeeding was common. Moms did nurse in the service while others went to the nursery. They also had a parent's room upstairs at the rear of and at a 90 degree angle to the sanctuary; basically, you were 20 feet above and facing the edge of the last few rows of the sanctuary. It was a long narrow room that fit four rockers to a row. Only the first row could see the service by craning their necks to the right. No one could hear the service because toddlers were brought in and allowed to play in the dark (lights were kept off). For those who were really modest, they had a chair set up behind a screen in the corner of this dark room. Got all that? I was nursing in the service with a blanket held under my arm (to cover any side view) and pulled around in front of the baby (to block any front view). My shirt was pulled down all the way down to my child's upper lip. Nothing was showing. The entire service an older couple to my left stared and gave me dirty looks. The next week, the pastor's wife wanted to talk to me about making sure I was covered and discrete while I nursed and reminded me that I could also use the parent's room upstairs.

Edited by joannqn
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I used to attend a very large Southern Baptist church in Houston when we lived there. We were asked not to bring babies to the worship service. It was on the screens before the service right before the reminder to turn off our cell phones. So yeah, no breastfeeding in the service. :)

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Generally moms in our church culture go to the nursery to nurse. It is usually set up with a window to see into the service or a live video feed and speakers to hear.

 

The crunchier moms in our groups tend to nurse discretely right in the auditorium at least some of the time. So that happens sometimes too, but I wouldn't say it is the norm.

 

Some congregations we've worshiped with have two separate nurseries- one for parents with fussy babies or toddlers and the other exclusively for nursing mothers. A fair share of fathers go out with their children, so I suppose the separate rooms are for their benefit.

 

I've also been to several groups that have a screen in the nursery itself, presumably to shield the mothers there with fussing babies or for diaper changes from seeing the nursing mothers. That always seemed a bit extreme for me, but whatever. Moms also tend to nurse with a cover or blanket, even in the nursery, but I usually don't if there are only women in there.

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Other. In California, Catholics have no culture. :lol:

 

Seriously... the Catholic Church is "here comes everybody," as James Joyce put it, and we have a whole lot of everybody around here. In the parishes we've been to, there typically isn't one standard way that mothers feed their babies. Same goes for dress codes, standards of child discipline, etc. This can be a bit crazy-making at times, but unless the situation is extreme enough for the ushers to intervene, people who are distracted or put off by what someone else's family is doing are just going to have to sigh and offer it up.

 

For myself, I try to avoid nursing in the pew, because my babies are noisy feeders and will often burp or get hiccups. Other options I've made use of include the cry room, the vestibule, the library, a bench outside, or out in the car. Depending on the parish, the sound might be piped into some of these areas (not including the car!), and there might even be video screens. So there's usually a comfortable spot available.

 

I've never heard of women having to nurse in the confessional. That seems very odd.

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I'm Catholic and I usually nurse my children right in the pew during mass. This includes nursing toddlers. When they are going through a super distractible phase I go into the gathering space outside of where the mass is taking place.

 

ETA: I nurse discreetly without a cover-up.

Edited by Lisa in the UP of MI
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I said, "Mothers go to a nursery or cryroom to nurse" although I don't know for sure because there have not been any nursing mothers in our time at this parish. It's what I imagine will happen, but it's not necessarily what I tend to do. I typically will nurse where I am. And yet, I have not been Orthodox with a baby that nurses frequently, so it might be different now. Our parish is pretty small and since most people stand for the majority of the Liturgy (few chairs in the room, no pews), it might be too obvious what I'm doing and I may be more aware now of making others uncomfortable. I'm fine with nursing in a room full of people (obviously), but I also honor the Divine Liturgy greatly and wouldn't want to distract others during this important time of the week.

 

Now I can add "nursing research" to my list of reasons I want to have an Orthodox baby. ;)

Edited by milovaný
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Our church has no "policy" except that we are very pro-child and pro-baby. I could nurse in the service if I wanted, or go to the back room (a room divided from the main room with a partial wall, meant to be a space for moms to nurse or parents to take antsy children during the service).

 

I prefer to go to the back room because my baby is wiggly and easily distracted from nursing when others are around.

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Catholic. No problem in the pew, but there is usually another area provided as well. The confessional? Well, I have been to a Church with a large reconciliation room that might be used if one would want to nurse in private. But a confessional? I would love to see a picture of that!

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I guess I don't know what others do, but I would not want to nurse in a church pew. It would be uncomfortable to me. I actually loved retreating to the quiet, peaceful nursing room with the great pillows and rocking chair. They always had water bottles in there too. It was a nice place.

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Our church has a special cry room for nursing that is right behind the sanctuary and has a window that you can see the whole service from. The room also has a speaker that you can hear the service with. I think most nursing mothers use this, but I'm sure some may nurse during the service.

 

This exactly.

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Most women go to the nursery. I usually nurse right outside the nursery where the speakers are, so I can hear. I have nursed my oldest in the sanctuary, when he was two, but that was before there was a "culture." I know that I can nurse anywhere, but I go with the flow for now.

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We have a Mother's Lounge that we can use, with speakers and comfy rocking chairs (okay currently my building had a chair and I am working on getting another one as there will be 2 of us nursing mama's soon.) I could nurse in the service. I did more with 1. with number 2 it was easier to go out as he was a spitter. And then with number 3 I liked the break and the quiet nursing in the mother's lounge and leaving the others with dh. ;) Now however I'll be sitting without him so I will see how it works out.

 

I do laugh when I go to a mother's lounge and see the mom's with book hidders strapped around them covering their baby. I nurse modestly without a cover.

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So we have had 13 babies born in the last 6 months...with at least 5 more due in the next 6 months....we have a mother's room with 3 some what rocking chairs and a changing table...but announcements have been made recently that mother's may nurse during the women's section (relief society) and that during the 2nd hour (sunday school) there is another classroom with no one in it that can be used...So I selected cry room.

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Our church does not have any policy against nursing during Mass. Most of the priests have been very supportive. However, very few women do so. I always did, partly because I was adamant that I should be able to feed my child whenever and wherever I needed to and partly to be an example so that other mothers would feel comfortable. The culture is not reflected of our faith community so much as the community at large. Most women in our town bottlefeed so that they can get to back to their weekly manicure and tennis games.

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Past nursing, but when I did.... I always felt like I was nursing for the benefit of future "nursers/nurserees" :) I nursed wherever my children were hungry, whenever they were hungry. I believe that br*asts are meant to be used for nursing, and I live in a free country, so no need to panic. It's not a dirty thing, or s*xual thing, so I don't need to cover up or freak out about it. Since it is a free country, if others are offended, they can move. The more we nurse in public, without being purposely offensive.... the more natural it will seem. (Return to Nature :)) When my son was in church, I had bottles of expressed milk for my mom to feed him. This wasn't for the benefit of others, except for my mom :) She loved the special time of cuddling him and feeding him a bottle. (I always kept many bottles worth, as it's such a bonding time, and my older girls liked feeding him, too.

:)

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Baptist here---rural/small community church of about 125 people.

 

I voted in the service as a few will nurse in the service (usually sitting towards the back) and that is fine. We also have several chairs in the main nursery they can use for nursing and there is a small room in the nursery with cribs and a chair for nursing if mom/baby need more privacy.

 

Basically it is up to the mom to decide when/where to nurse.

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It really depends on whatever the mother is comfortable with. I've moved around a lot and even though I attend the same church (LDS) it really varies from place to place. In one congregation the norm was to just nurse without a cover right in the middle of things. (I would use a cover, but many would not). Then other places most people would use a cover, but still stay with the main group. The building I'm in now has a nursing mothers' room with rocking chairs, and that's what people usually use (some with covers, some without). But the room can be difficult to get to from some areas of the building, so sometimes we just nurse where we are.

 

 

This. Although I voted mothers go to a nursery or cry room because most of the mothers in our current area go to the mothers' lounge to nurse. I don't blame them, there are cushy rocking easy chairs in there, along with a diaper changing station and a sink, and the main worship service is piped in via speaker. (And often someone to chat with if it's during class time instead of sacrament meeting, though I've seen moms nurse in class too, especially in Relief Society meeting (women only class).)

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I have seen mothers sit down and nurse through service right in the pew, I and some other women leave and go to the fellowship hall, and I've seen parents give their baby a bottle in the pews or in the hall.

 

Whatever someone is comfortable with, they do. We stand for the majority of service, but someone sitting is not a distraction.

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La Leche League started out as a Catholic organization (my grandma was in it back in the days when hardly any moms BF) so the church is very pro-BF in general. I've seen moms nurse discreetly during Mass many times, though I personally feel more comfortable finding some place a bit more private.

I did. We always sat in the last pew so no one could see me other than dh and possibly father from the ambo. He was never pleased about it, but did not say anything. I couldn't help it that mass was during dd's first lunch. :D

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So we have had 13 babies born in the last 6 months...with at least 5 more due in the next 6 months....we have a mother's room with 3 some what rocking chairs and a changing table...but announcements have been made recently that mother's may nurse during the women's section (relief society) and that during the 2nd hour (sunday school) there is another classroom with no one in it that can be used...So I selected cry room.

You sound LDS. I pray it was more along the lines of you are welcome to stay in RS and nurse, as many sister don't usually. If during Sunday school you need a quiet place and the mother's lounge is full there is overflow in this room, I know some women need more privacy to nurse than others or wear a dress that they have to half remove to nurse. I am sure if I was in that ward I would already be nursing where ever and whenever I needed to nurse. Thankfully you don't have 3 wards overlapping. I am sure it will be an adventure then I visit a ward in our stake that meets in the middle. Of course our Stake President is awesome and I know he won't bat an eye if I nurse in the chapel.

 

I know during Stake conference (large gathering of multiple congregations) that X room is for nursing mothers or those with small children, but there always tends to be a dad in there.

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You sound LDS. I pray it was more along the lines of you are welcome to stay in RS and nurse, as many sister don't usually. If during Sunday school you need a quiet place and the mother's lounge is full there is overflow in this room, I know some women need more privacy to nurse than others or wear a dress that they have to half remove to nurse. I am sure if I was in that ward I would already be nursing where ever and whenever I needed to nurse. Thankfully you don't have 3 wards overlapping. I am sure it will be an adventure then I visit a ward in our stake that meets in the middle. Of course our Stake President is awesome and I know he won't bat an eye if I nurse in the chapel.

 

I know during Stake conference (large gathering of multiple congregations) that X room is for nursing mothers or those with small children, but there always tends to be a dad in there.

 

We do have three wards overlapping in our building :lol: and most moms choose to go to the cushy chairs in the mother's room, but not me. I am happiest nursing whenever and wherever bebe is hungry, and that has never been an issue whatsoever. There is at least one other mom who nurses in services.

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This. Although I voted mothers go to a nursery or cry room because most of the mothers in our current area go to the mothers' lounge to nurse. I don't blame them, there are cushy rocking easy chairs in there, along with a diaper changing station and a sink, and the main worship service is piped in via speaker. (And often someone to chat with if it's during class time instead of sacrament meeting, though I've seen moms nurse in class too, especially in Relief Society meeting (women only class).)

 

:iagree:Yep, this. Although woman can (and have) nursed everywhere in our building. It's truly up to the mother and what she feels comfortable with. I vote for the Lazy-boy rockers in the Mother's Lounge, but have nursed in Relief Society and in the Primary room as well.

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I'd say we are split between nursing in the service and going to the cry room, which is in the back of the sanctuary, with a window and a speaker so you can hear.

Actually, the ones that are typically in the cry room are moms with toddlers who just need to get down and play, moms with young babies are almost always in the sanctuary...so I would think they just nurse there. Most use a nursing cover. I don't, I nurse my wiggly toddler in church.:D I'm modest, and no one sees anything they shouldn't, even if they are looking right at us. I figure back 'in the day' there weren't cry rooms or embarrassment about nursing, and mothers would have just nursed wherever they were. ;)

 

Our church just started family style worship on Sunday evenings, where the kids are all invited to come in (they are always invited, but the expectation during Sunday morning service is that they will be somewhat quiet) and play. There are baby toys, a little gated area right smack in the middle of the room for toddlers to run around in, and the normal seating is changed to round tables and chairs, so families can all sit and face each other. There is playdoh and crayons on each table for the younger kids, and the service includes games and activities for everyone to do together. The worship part is geared to all ages, and the kids all do their dances from Sunday school and sing along. It is a BLAST, and my dream come true as far as church goes. I saw lots of mamas nursing last week when we went to family worship!

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I figure back 'in the day' there weren't cry rooms or embarrassment about nursing, and mothers would have just nursed wherever they were. ;)

I guess that depends what 'day' you're talking about. Here's a letter to the editor that was published in an American magazine 200 years ago. It seems pretty much identical to a lot of the complaints that are heard today.

 

On Taking Infants to Church

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