Dear Women’s Ministry/conference/Church,
Almost a year ago I signed up for a local church women’s conference. It is a fairly popular one day conference that many of the ladies go to from all different churches in my region. My mom and Aunt were attending and I was so looking forward to getting out and being blessed with them. There was only one problem. I was nursing a baby. My youngest daughter was about 6 months old at the time and exclusively breastfed. This means, she did/would not take a bottle (we tried a few times. She wasn’t having any of that) and as a young baby, she still needed to nurse frequently enough that I could not leave her for more than about 2 hours at a time. Maybe 3… but that could be pushing it. After all, nursing infants can be unpredictable. When I called to register I asked the nice girl on the phone if there was a cry room or some place I’d be able to move to if my nursing infant were to become fussy. She replied that she was sure there were places i could go but she needed to double check and would call me back. Now, I know these conferences are like vacations for us moms. We don’t bring kids. There often is no childcare. I knew my older children were not to attend and I had to find childcare arrangements for them and that was fine. but surely I could bring my nursing baby, I thought. I wouldn’t be rude or make people hear her crying. I’d slip out respectfully if she got fussy but how could a baby who still depends on their mother for their food and drink be unwelcome? Hours later I received a call from the same girl, now embarrassed letting me know that a nursing baby was not able to come. No babies. period. I knew this girl was not the decision maker on this issue and was purely the messenger of bad news. I took the news and swallowed it and she asked for my address so she could send my a free copy of the audio of the conference as an apology. I accepted this offer and hung up in disappointment. As it sunk in what had happened and the day went on I became more upset. Hurt even.
While I understand that children are not always able to be accommodated for or welcome to all events, how could my nursing infant caused me to be shut out of a women’s conference?
So this is what I want to tell you all. Anyone involved in church leadership or coordinating events with your religious organization-
A lot of your women are moms. I’m sure you see it all the time. You look around your congregation and think, “Surely, this is the most fertile church in the world?!” There are babies everywhere at church! Us moms are rocking them and bouncing them and shushing them and pacing your welcome areas and filling your cry rooms and checking on them in your nursery and feeding them in your nursing mothers room. We are a fertile people! Blessed. and tired. Very tired and lacking proper adult socialization. We need breaks! We need renewal. We need some time out of our homes being reminded that we are more than just dirty diaper changers and PPD battlers.
So we need your women’s conference! We need it like we need clean water to drink. We are begging for your fellowship and love and motivating message of renewal and strength.
With how many mothers there are, Many of us are breastfeeding moms. Actually about 76.9% of us U.S. moms are breastfeeding our newborns and 25% of us are still breastfeeding when our babies reach 12 months old. That’s a big chunk of your moms. And while some of us have great eaters who will switch from breast to bottle, many babies who breastfeed refuse eat from a bottle so leaving them for hours to attend any kind of lengthy event is not an option for us.
When I turn to scripture on breastfeeding it is also evident that God is not ashamed of breastfeeding. He encourages breastfeeding and he also invited mothers and their nursing babies out to large public events-
“Joel 2:16 – Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.”
Our nursing babies seem more than welcome to this wedding.
And while I am not anti moms leaving their babies for some time to themselves, it just is not my style. I am emotionally and hormonally bonded to my infant. When I am not with my infant, I miss them and my breast become uncomfortably full, and I even leak milk. This is all part of how we are designed to be. We are designed to be with our infants and not separated for long periods down to our core molecular makeup.
I’m not the mother who forgets my baby and can run off for awhile. “Isaiah 49:15 – Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?..“
So lets face it, When nursing babes are excluded from an event, it is not babies being told not to come- it is mothers. The mothers are the ones being shut out. The mothers battling hormone changes and explosive diapers and cluster feedings from growth spurts. Sleep deprived, under-socialized, just coming out of their postpartum fog- moms. Because lets face it, God created us to make our babies our priority. Unless I’m running to the food store down the block to pick up a quick item and running straight home again- my baby is not being left home. My baby is part of me. When she is hungry, my breasts are full. When she is tired, my arms cradle her. When I go to a women’s conference, she comes with me.
So do your church a favor, show love to your nursing mothers. Show them that they matter, that they are cared about, thought about, remembered, included, and wanted with you at your church. Because we do matter.
For more Scripture on Breastfeeding: Click Here