I don't think this is often meant to be cruel, but they are inadvertently stigmatizing breastfeeding as something dirty and inappropriate.
Among those who are ok with public breastfeeding many will say, "well, as long as she covers up," which is really just as bad.
And to many others, like a curse word or a short skirt, there are some places that the breastfeeding baby and mom just do not belong in our culture... like church.
Last week fellow Birth Boot Camp instructor, Janie Oyakawa, was interviewed by a radio talk show on whether or not breastfeeding in church is a distraction to other members of the congregation and whether it belonged behind closed doors. The topic came about after the following was published in Ft. Worth Magazine:
Q: I was in church last Sunday, and a woman in the row ahead of me began breastfeeding halfway through the service. I’m a big proponent of women breastfeeding their babies, but it was very distracting during a time that I wanted to focus on the sermon. What is proper church etiquette regarding distracting behavior during worship?
A: Ick. I know that many think a woman providing nourishment to her baby is a beautiful and natural thing, but putting on a show in the house of the Lord is unacceptable in my book. In fact, I can’t think of a place in public where I would want to ever see that. So for those women out there who bare all at the mall food court or in line at the supermarket, consider waiting until you can be a little more discreet......
I suggest that next Sunday you sit next to this woman. As the sermon begins, you could clip your fingernails while talking to your friend on your cell phone and offer her half of your tuna fish sandwich.
As a woman who has breastfed all six of her babies in church, Janie was the perfect person to share some insight. The radio show hosts were two clearly conservative men, but by the end of the interview Janie had them both thinking about whether it was breastfeeding, or our culture, that was the problem. I was totally cheering her on as I listened!
I especially loved comparing nursing under a cover to drinking coffee under a blanket, well done Janie!
You can hear the interview here.
I encourage everyone to listen and share, maybe someone you know hasn't thought about why bottle feeding, covering up, or leaving the room is difficult for a breastfeeding mother and baby.
You can read Janie's blog at The Mom of Oz.