Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mormon Lactavists

The topic of breastfeeding in church has come up a LOT in the past couple of weeks, and I've been seeing blogs and articles all over Facebook about it.

One in particular, from the SLC Tribune:

I don't really want to start a convo on FB about it, but I thought I would blog my thoughts about it here.

Have I ever personally BF during church?  

Yes.  In the ward where Preston was born, I would sit in the back of Relief Society and BF  him under a nursing cover.  There were 2 other nursing moms in there as well, and we all felt comfortable nursing in the back.  Usually the back of the room was quite open.

However, the ward where Taylor was a baby I tried BFing once in RS and it was a bit awkward. It was a very small room and every chair was occupied.  It's not that anyone gave me a hard time -in fact nobody batted an eye. It was just awkward because I didn't have any room and I was bumping elbows.

Did I ever nurse in sacrament meeting or Sunday school? 

No.  I personally never felt comfortable nursing with other people (men) around.  Mostly because I was never savvy at undoing my nursing bra, shirt, and everything else without a boob flying out accidentally.  With Preston I only ever had a blanket to nurse with and it's really impossible sometimes to keep a blanket up on your shoulder with a baby under it (who likes to pull it down) while trying to under your bra under your shirt.

But the second time around, I got smart and bought a nursing cover. These tie around your neck so the baby can't pull them off. GENIUS I tell you.

But so anyway, I always went to the mothers lounge during Sacrament meeting or Sunday school, and sometimes it would be freezing cold in there so I always brought extra blankets with me.  Honestly, I enjoyed sitting in a rocking chair hearing the talks over the speaker system - haha. I don't know why women complain about that - hahaha.

No, but in all seriousness, to hear women getting released from callings or not allowed to attend YW or Primary activities because they are BFing is crap!

Have I ever BF in public?

Yes.  I sat in the corridor of the UofW Stadium breastfeeding Preston during a Huskies football game.  Did people look at me weird?  No, but they definitely avoided me. Haha.  I tried to find a space in the public bathroom to nurse but there was no where sit down. It was either sit on the dirty gross bathroom floor or on a toilet to nurse (which I have actually done before).  I didn't want to BF in the stands of the stadium so my only choice was to find a bench in the corridors and do it.

In the article above, it says women were thrown out of Target and malls for breastfeeding.  I find that offensive.  Feeding your child is not some sick thing that you should be forced to do on a toilet seat in a bathroom stall or on a dirty bathroom floor.  The article didn't say whether or not these women were covering up or just BF without a cover, but either way - if someone had walked up to me at the UofW stadium and asked me to leave because I was BF my child, I would have been mortified and deeply hurt.  There really was no where to feed my baby, unless I walked the 2 miles back to my car from the stadium to nurse him, and that would have been just insane.

I have also nursed in public parks (covered up). I've nursed in a movie theater.  Yeah I've pretty much nursed everywhere out in public BUT I always found more secluded areas and not like I was trying to put on a display or something.  Sometimes, I think people don't understand that there is no where else to feed the baby and the baby needs to eat.

I personally LOVE this advertisement from LUVS.  Way to make BF look completely normal.

My personal opinion about breastfeeding is that as long as the mother is covering up then there should be no problem.  I have been to a storytime at the local library where there was a mother feeding her baby with her breasts COMPLETELY out there and yes it was distracting.  It wasn't offensive, mind you, but it was distracting.  I had a hard time not looking at her chest.

People who compare breastfeeding to porn or bikini clad models is rediculous.  There is absolutely nothing sexy about breastfeeding, and to compare the two is rediclous. BIG difference.

BUT with that said, in our American society and the way that women are objectified, it will still take a lot more time before we are all mature enough to accept BF'ing as normal and acceptable.  But until we stop seeing women's bodies as sexual objects (as the US media is so good at doing), that won't happen. And so until then, it's hard for a women to expect people out in public to be perfectly okay with BFing.

But the more awareness going on, commercials like the one above, and all helpful in the movement to make it more accepted.

As for CHURCH though, I'm honestly surprised to hear about some of the negative experiences that some women have had. It's very disappointing. I hope that eventually there are some guidelines so there is more consistency among the wards here in the U.S.


Heather said...

I totally agree. I don't understand why covering up is such a big deal. Of course breast feeding isn't sexual! But I think there's a disconnect between believing that our bodies are sacred, and that we should keep parts of them covered (like, our shoulders even!), but it's ok to have half a breast hanging out if there's a baby attached to it? It just doesn't make sense to me. But if you're covered, feed that baby whenever and wherever :).

Nikki said...

Wonderfully written. I couldn't agree more! Thanks for sharing the link.

Marissa said...

This topic always gets me fired up! Thanks for sharing. I've nursed just about everywhere covered up and have no qualms about it....except at church. I used to nurse in all the meetings, but I've lost my nerve as I've become more aware of how uncomfortable other people are about it in general. Now on my 3rd child, let's face it, taking off to the mother's room during sacrament meeting isn't such a bad deal anymore...I enjoy the peace even if it is freezing and stinky.

Desiree P said...

Thanks for your thoughts on the subject. I disagree however that a woman should be required to cover up. Some babies just will not nurse under a cover, and shouldn't have to. And someone like me, who's husband isn't around, or even someone who's husband is just up on the stand, shouldn't have to choose between feeding her baby and staying seated with her other kids. I can't just up and leave my other 3 kids there to feed the baby in the mothers lounge all the time.
In many other countries feeding a baby uncovered isn't even considered distracting, it's normal and natural. The problem is American culture. I do think the church needs to come out with an official something that says breastfeeding at church is perfectly acceptable (covered or not) and the women aren't to be shamed or punished for it. For a church that puts such emphasis on family, they are really dropping the ball on this one (even if the problem is more on a local leadership level).

Jenni said...

Talking with my hubby last night, he pointed out that the reason the church can't make an official policy about it is because this is a worldwide church - BF'ing is so different in so many cultures. You can say "cover up" and then expect moms in Africa to do that. So it really comes down to a local leadership level. I just wish it was more consistent here in the states from one situation to the next.

Dan Thomas said...

In Samoa there was no standards for BF. As a young missionary I saw all types of standards.

debra said...

I'm really torn on this issue. I personally don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in mixed company without a cover up. I understand that some babies won't nurse under a blanket, but there is also the issue of a baby being distracted and pulling off with nipple exposed which I find extremely distracting. I would not feel comfortable with my son passing the sacrament with that as a possibility. I think it could lead to some curious internet searches. I say sacrament, cover up. Adult meetings go for it. I don't think anyone should be ostracized because of it though. That is extremely upsetting. I think there definitely needs to be some kind of direction given to local leaders as well as ward members. It's only going to become more of an issue. I wish I could sit in the mother's lounge more often! The chairs are more comfortable and it's quieter.

Mommy of Many Hats said...

Wow! I think I'm out of the loop when it comes to all this stuff relating to church. But, I will say, up until about a year ago, our ward didn't even have a building. We didn't have a mother's lounge or even an empty classroom that was available for mother's to nurse. Thankfully I was feeding my babies bottles and didn't have to worry about it, but I remember constantly thinking about what a mother was to do if she was nursing.

Perhaps something will be mentioned during stake conferences coming up.

James and Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I've enjoyed reading yours and the other comments. I love Marissa's comment. I use a cover as long as I am able. Grace stopped letting me cover her at about six months. I always use the Mother's lounge but our's is really small and we have lots of nursing mom's so sometimes their a line for feed. Yay for nursing boo for lines.
Even in the lounge sometime other mom's get nervous with me feeding Grace uncovered and leave the lounge quickly. I really really try to make sure I'm covered even though Grace won't stay covered. I feel I am modest and I'm okay with that. It's nice to have a place to share my thoughts. thanks for sharing yours.

Reese said...

Loved your comments. The article is just sad. It makes me mad at Utah! Why are they so mean to each other!! Breast feeding should not be the reason ANYONE is prevented from holding callings or anyone is ostracized. We let anyone come to church...even those who smell of smoke or look less than pressed and tidy. The Lord would let anyone come to church and would not shame them.

But with that being said, we also believe in modesty, and in our culture, a woman's breasts can be very sexual. Most adult men understand BFing is not sexual, but what about a 10,12, or 16-year old boy who's never seen a woman's breasts before?? I have to think for young men it could be a problem and bring about a not-so-desirable curiosity. Women just need to do their best to consider their audience. And do the best you can. Based on your own family situation, your husband's calling, the number of kids you have, and the type of building you meet in all play a part in how BFing can happen. Just do your best and don't judge!!

I also think the Church Handbook is divinely inspired and is not reflective of culture "wars". I'm pretty sure the church will not make a change based on a "petition" of sorts. It's the Lord's's not really a democracy.

People just need to be more loving and accepting. On both sides of this issue.