There are so many small things that are different for me as I continue my journey outside of the world of Fundamentalism.
One of the small things I have noticed is the difference regarding attitudes towards breastfeeding.
For instance, my husband told me of an instance where there was a scandal at our previous church because a woman chose to breastfeed in the auditorium. The service was over, and the room was empty. This woman sat at the back of the church and discreetly nursed without a cover. People became upset because my husband, as a older school-aged boy, walked in on this woman who was nursing her child. If I remember correctly, the woman was the wife of a visiting pastor.
So needless to say, breastfeeding at our old church was not really spoken of at all. The moms might have chats here and there about the topic, but were not even welcome to nurse IN the nurseries, where there were only children and women anyway. There was a chair and changing table squished into a small bathroom where moms could nurse. It was a very small, dark room, and a lock was placed on the room for fear that someone would walk in and see something. It was incredibly uncomfortable in that room, and any requests to provide better accommodations for the moms were denied. There is absolutely no way that nursing outside your car or that small bathroom would be tolerated. A few times I tried to discreetly and with a cover nurse one of my children in corners of rooms not being used. Again, this was frowned upon. Either someone would come in and give me a dirty look or I would be straight out asked to feed the baby elsewhere.
My sister previously attended a huge Fundamental church. They had thousands of members. They also had a similar attitude towards breastfeeding moms. There was one small room with about a dozen folding chairs as a nursing room. Moms were not allowed to nurse in the nurseries. They were also given a 15 minute limit for nursing in the room. It was incredibly discouraged at the church. Both churches highly discouraged moms getting their infants between Sunday School and the service. You do not have ready access to your own child!
The whole attitude being that it would be better to not do this at all at church for fear that some man would see some bit of flesh and have a lustful thought. The entire population of nursing moms was made to revamp their mothering style at church in order to accommodate weak minded men. This attitude really effected a huge population of the church because there were so many families and so many babies as part of the membership.
It is ridiculous to portray that the act of breastfeeding is something taboo. I will take it further and say that I believe that breasts are over sexualized in Fundamentalist communities.
For goodness sake, it’s a breast. There is a biological function to this body part that has nothing to do with sex. The Bible speaks about infants and nursing in a positive light. I don’t have the time to share every verse although at some point I will gladly do that.
Why can’t a mom FEED her child at church? Babies need to eat, plain and simple. Moms need to feel that they and their children are welcome in the church and in the nurseries. Don’t have church visitors come to your service and force the mom to sit in a dark, cold, stinky bathroom, because she is not welcome in the service, nursery, or overflow rooms! How is that welcoming?
I understand that many people feel strongly about moms using a cover or blanket while nursing in mixed company. I don’t personally agree with that, but I understand the preference. I do cover in mixed company out of respect for the fact that other people in the room might feel differently about the topic than I. I don’t want to offend my Christian brothers and sisters.
Reasons why I love my new church and their attitude toward breastfeeding:
*I have seen a large number of moms breastfeeding both in Sunday School and in the service
*All of the moms do use covers and try to be discreet. They seem comfortable though, and no one gives them trouble for nursing their child. The other women AND MEN in the group seem fine with it. People can respectfully and discreetly avert their eyes if need be.
*The nurseries call moms when their baby gets hungry. There is easy and ready access to your child!
*There is a nursing/cry room available. The room is clean with comfortable rockers. One wall is glass so you can still see the service.
*There is one mom in my Bible study that feels perfectly comfortable to nurse during the study. It is a small group with couples. None of the men seem uncomfortable with the nursing. This mom does use a cover.
Conclusion: Families with babies and toddlers feel welcome at this church and that is because they are welcomed!