Thinking Out Loud

April 6, 2015

Breast Feeding in the Church Sanctuary

After debating several possibilities, the editorial team at Thinking Out Loud decided to play it safe with some classical art

After debating several possibilities, the editorial team at Thinking Out Loud decided to play it safe with some classical art

It must be an April thing, because last year at this time, we asked the question, Should Couples Hold Hands in Church?

Now we want to look at a question which is often a hot button issue in some churches, that of mothers nursing their babies in the church auditorium or sanctuary. So just to be clear let’s make some definitions:

  • This would be happening as a worship service is in progress
  • We’re assuming a certain amount of modesty is in place; there is an attempt to use discretion and keep everything as covered-up as possible. (Or is that the problem where you attend? Are some moms simply not attempting enough covering?)
  • The woman in question is not sitting in the front row serving as a distraction to the pastor or worship team. (Unless, again, that’s the problem; though it’s hard to believe anyone would actually do this.)
  • There are no children or (especially) teens who might be overly distracted by the very hint of this. (Middle school boys are at an age where boobs are an obsession.)
  • The baby is not fussing, crying or providing any type of audio distraction. (Think of Maggie on The Simpsons.)
  • There isn’t a room for this purpose (ideally with opaqued glass) off to the side of the auditorium.
  • The mom isn’t a visitor (unless that’s specific to a problem with this at your church) so she’s been around the church for years and knows the drill.

Does that cover it? (No pun intended.)

So what do you think? Are there options that would allow for this, or is it a definite “no” as far you’re concerned?

Has there been a shift on this over the last few years in your church?

And where am I gonna find a picture for this article? 

The question, just to be clear, is: Do you consider breastfeeding in church appropriate or inappropriate?  Is this a divisive issue where you worship?




  1. I think in our culture many women feel self-conscious breastfeeding in public because we have so sexualized the female breast. In other cultures it would be no big deal. When we attended church services in Africa women there were not discreet about it at all – if a child needed to nurse the mother would pull out a breast with no attempt to hide what was happening. No-one thought anything about it, it was the accepted norm.

    Nursing children in a worship service shouldn’t be a big deal for anyone. When the babies are really young most people don’t even notice. I have no idea if babies are being breastfed in my church these days – I’m not looking for it. I would probably notice if it was happening on the platform, but other than that it shouldn’t be an issue.

    And for the record yes, both my children were on occasion nursed during the worship service, but there was nothing showing that should have caused anyone any concern.

    Comment by Lorne Anderson — April 6, 2015 @ 7:13 am

  2. I have 3 children. Each one has been breastfeed in church. I have had women & men get mad at me. Here is my though…Church is a family place. It can be hard to take care of a child and be sent away from the serivce/sunday school/event

    Comment by angie — April 6, 2015 @ 7:15 am

  3. A cry room at the side is for crying babies, not quietly nursing babies. For about 3 years 20 years ago I regularly nursed my two sons in church. They were very quiet babies, but I don’t think I was more discreet than any other mom–other than the fact I NEVER used a cover up blanket (which screams “I’m nursing here”) but only raised my shirt — to the point of contact. Why this is even a question disturbs me…

    Comment by Elizabeth — April 6, 2015 @ 10:21 am

    • Hi Elizabeth… It’s a question because of the previous response from Angie: “I have had men and women get mad at me.”

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 6, 2015 @ 12:59 pm

      • But that is why it should be clear within a church and a congregation that this is NOT a question, NOT an issue, and NOT something to be distressed or mad about. It is just accepted. As the body of Christ, as Angie says, we need to NOT send mothers, and by default, families away. Social pressure works both ways–if people are open and vocally accepting of young families in our churches, including nursing mothers then “men & women getting mad” just won’t happen. and seriously…haven’t the legal challenges in restaurants, swimming pools, parks, etc. already made this a non-issue? Do we really need a legal challenge in a church as well??

        Comment by Elizabeth — April 7, 2015 @ 10:57 am

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