Monday, April 13, 2009

"Closet" Breastfeeding

Dear Pastor of Church,

On Easter Sunday, I was visiting your church with my baby. During the service, I stepped into the nursery to feed my infant son. I asked one of the nursery workers if I could use one of the two rocking chairs, as both chairs were occupied by the workers at the moment and I did not want to set in the unoccupied chair that was lacking arm rests. They quickly offered a rocker, which I appreciated. As I sat down and began to unlatch my discreet nursing camisole to feed my son, one of the workers said, "Oh, you're breastfeeding, here we have a private room for nursing mothers..." and proceeded to drag the armless chair behind a door into a room that is obviously being used as a closet, where I and my baby both hit our heads on various items.

I have several issues with both the room and the pressure that was placed on me to move from the comfortable rocker. The first issue is the safety of the room that has stuff stacked everywhere, it is not a safe place for a mother to feed her baby let alone anyone that has access to the nursery. A child could easily open the door, hide back there, and get crushed. The second is that any church treating breastfeeding mothers with such low regard as to stick them (literally) in a closet, is not a place where a nursing mother is likely to return. The third issue is I went to the nursery and should have been able to nurse my baby there as I started to do. I solved the issue myself and nursed on the steps leading into the sanctuary instead.

I was really looking forward to visiting as this was my childhood church. . Considering that our Lord and Savior was nursed by Mary as a child, I had expected a higher level of respect for the art of mothering than what I found in your place of worship. I am hoping that by letting you know my experience, breastfeeding mothers can become cherished members of your congregation.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.
1 Peter 2:2
Enclosed are the photos of the conditions in which I was asked to feed my baby


momyshaver said...

That makes me so mad for you. I am glad you are writing a letter; maybe the next time a new mom needs to feed her baby it will be different. Situations like these just remind me why I left "the church" and religion for relationship and spirituality.

Niecey said...

Gosh, I'm so sorry they acted like that. Well done for writing a letter. I hope they make some changes.

I go to a mega church, and have often fed in the foyer in front of everyone and no one has said anything. They have a nice, cozy, petitioned area partitioned off for nursing mothers, in the cry room, with plants and rockers and a live feed from the main sanctuary.
I've often wondered though, if this means you're only supposed to breastfeed in there? I'd like to be able to just nurse through the service, so I wouldn't have to get up and walk to the cry room. But I'm not sure if anyone would say anything. It is a great church though. The last one I went to we were expected to nurse in the bathroom. Not great.

Julie said...

I just sit in the pews and discretely nurse. Though, I'm not currently a regular church-goer, but when my child calls, I answer. I figure I'm doing one of the many things I was created to do and it certainly couldn't be more natural. (Rhetorically) Why not do it in front of God and everyone in His house?