Nope, no nipples or skin was showing, but I had a two year old in a koala position on my lap with her face buried in my chest.
Not that I was trying to sneak or deceitfully nurse my child. At that point, I had mastered discrete nursing but I also didn’t expect there to be a problem with me pacifying her.
I thought the House of God would be thrilled that a young mother like myself was giving her child the breast.
I thought everyone knew breastmilk was the secret love potion that kept our 2-year-old comfortable and quiet during the 3-hour long service. She was happy and well-behaved during the singing and scripture reading. She also played nicely with her coloring books and whatever other activities we packed for that day.
The moment the preacher got up to preach, both she and I knew it was the perfect time to transition to a nap. That’s when the congregation had to be extremely quiet and her questions would not be muffled out by the choir and organ.
So I would cuddle her close and nurse her.
I often sat in the first few rows. It was my preferred seat with little to no distractions.
Little did I know, me breastfeeding was the distraction.
According to Massachusetts law, a mother is free to nurse wherever she chooses except for religious institutions.
I’m assuming someone from the choir complained (because they face the congregation and could see my movements more clearly). An usher pulled me to the side after service one day, and asked, “are you breastfeeding during service?”
I was slightly shocked when I was confronted, because I thought children biblically, weaned at three.
“Yes,” I said.
I was given a tour by another mom who happily nursed her son in the lower level closet. It wasn't well lit, looked cramped, and was stacked with extra chairs. I honestly don't even know where she sat. I too was instructed to go to a closet, cover myself or sit in the back row.
I asked the usher, “why do I need to cover if they can’t see my breast?”
I came to church for a message, I’m not going to go sit in the closet away from the congregation, where I can’t hear the sermon.
I also refused to cover our two-year-old’s head.
So I opted to sit in the back row.
My husband was furious when he found out.
Where he comes from (the Caribbean) he saw women’s breasts and babies feeding as a normal part of life.
One of the church members said she didn't like when mothers tried to make a statement by breastfeeding their children. But my goal as a first-time mom was simply to comfort my child the best way I knew how. I've now learned that many times people are projecting experiences they've probably had. Maybe she was unable to nurse her children, or maybe she never wanted to. I definitely do not like to push my lifestyle on others, so I ended up leaving that church.
Do you know your local breastfeeding laws? Where are you and aren’t you allowed to nurse?
Until next time...
Love The Journey,