Breastfeeding in the Church

My family and I go to a pretty cool church here in DeKalb. I've been going since we moved to Sycamore when I was 12 years old, continued going when I was home from college on the weekends, and it's where Greg and I eventually ended up after we got married. It's been a really cool blessing to have been a part of the same community for over half of my life. They really are like family; they've seen me through my dorky and highly embarrassing junior high years (and loved me through them!), supported and cheered me on through college, and celebrated with us when we got married there in '04. How fun it is, now, to be growing my little family amidst the larger church family that I grew up in!

It's been interesting, though, to observe their reactions to my ever-increasing "crunchy granola" lifestyle. Kind of like a funny little social experiment that leaves me grinning (though sometimes frowning) on the inside.

Take the breastfeeding issue.

Thankfully, I haven't received any off-putting comments about my nursing (covered) during the discussion hour or in the service. But it's been amusing to observe the different reactions of people when it's time for Augustine to eat. When I'm in the sanctuary and he needs to nurse, it almost always happens right before the pastor tells everyone to stand up and greet those around you. Awkward! So there I am, sitting at the end of the aisle with my noisy eater suckin' away!

I get the impression that some people try to avoid eye contact or walk the other way, while those who know me well don't bat an eye. While I wish breastfeeding at church would be a non-issue, Greg brought up the point that some might just be trying to be respectful. Breastfeeding is, in fact, a very intimate and special thing between a mom and her baby. I can understand why people would want to give me space.

In spite of the funny and semi-awkward encounters I've experienced while nursing, I have noticed that it gets a little better with each passing Sunday. People are getting used to it, which I like. The awkward avoiders are becoming fewer, and I feel like people are realizing that this is just what we do.

I recently read an article in Christianity Today called "Breastfeeding in the Back Pew." In it, the author proclaims, "In a culture where breasts are perennially on display--but where breastfeeding is often regarded with disgust or at least embarrassment--allowing mothers to breast-feed in worship would counter how sexualized breasts are in modern culture. It would also communicate respect for mothers.... The earthy eloquence of breast-feeding, even in church, would also remind us of both the humanness of our Savior and of God's loving sustenance of us through all the seasons of our lives."

Amen and amen.