Breast is Best: Weekend Poll

March 2, 2013

A recent news story tells of a YW leader who was released from her calling for breastfeeding her baby in a room full of young women.  She has also been threatened with the loss of her temple recommend if she doesn’t leave meetings to feed her baby.  Scott Trotter, LDS media spokesperson, was caught off guard when asked for comment and replied, “WTF??”  Just kidding.

What he really said:

“Countless thousands of mothers have been accommodated in church for generations, simply by everyone observing common sense, discretion and respect. We have received no information about this incident.”

In typical PR fashion, this response allows everyone involved to think he or she is the one behaving with common sense, discretion and respect while the other party is behaving absent those qualities.  It is a media classic!

What do you think of breastfeeding in church? (choose up to 4)

  • It's perfectly natural. No need to cover up and make the baby hot under a blanket while it is eating. Breastfeeding is not sexual. (60%, 105 Votes)
  • Whether to cover up or not is strictly a cultural norm. If people are getting uptight about it, they have the problem. (55%, 96 Votes)
  • For a church focused on motherhood, we don't show mothers much respect. (52%, 91 Votes)
  • It's natural, but I would prefer women cover with a sheet or use the mother's room so we don't see her breast. (37%, 65 Votes)
  • Women have been given plenty of accommodation in the church as it is. All we ask is that they cover up and enjoy the privilege of being a woman. (6%, 11 Votes)
  • Men don't get to wave their private parts around. Women are just looking for an excuse to show their naked breasts to people. (1%, 2 Votes)
  • I'm not a fan of breastfeeding. Bottle is good enough and less messy. (1%, 1 Votes)
  • A woman who exposes her breast in church to feed a baby should be disciplined and not hold callings. (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Breastfeeding is a disgusting, private behavior, like sex or going to the bathroom. (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 175

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Discuss.

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34 Responses to Breast is Best: Weekend Poll

  1. Howard on March 2, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Breast feeding is not sexual but what if one of those YW told her adolescent brother about it and HE thought it was sexual. In that case you and the YW might find yourselves responsible for his unclean thoughts and if that interfered with his mission call maybe his whole life going wrong! So women can’t be too careful here better cover up!

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  2. anita on March 2, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    Given earlier discussions of port nursing room facilities in the church, there aren’t a lot of options for the mothers!

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  3. alice on March 2, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Howard, please say that’s sarcasm so no one could be confused about anyone actually holding that thought.

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  4. Henry on March 2, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Some people think you should be able to breatfeed anywhere, even job interviews. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It’s not appropriate to do it everywhere. Use discretion.

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  5. Howard on March 2, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Alice,
    You’re on to me! :)

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  6. Douglas on March 2, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    I’m looking for a Japanese picture of some “Gaijin” circa 1855 including an American woman breastfeeding her newborn. Sheesh, folks, it’s just a pair of knockers, doing what the Good Lord put ‘em there for..(well, at least ONE function of that delightful apparatus!). Yes, discretion dictates that the shawl or blanket should be brought out, but criminy, if it’ll shut Junior up and Mama’s leaking, it’s hardly obscene.

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  7. KT on March 2, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    As someone who’s been there and done that… The mother’s lounge in our ward had 2 chairs. There were many more women than that breastfeeding at one time and there is nowhere else to go. What to do in that situation? A few times I went to the car. What a pain! Plus, church is 3 hours long. You’re going to have at least one feeding, if not more during that time block.
    I understand using normal discretion, but I personally think that if the mother is comfortable breastfeeding publicly, then others should deal or look away.

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  8. kramer on March 3, 2013 at 4:04 AM

    In our ward, we changed the location of the Mother’s room as the number of new borns increased.

    I personally would rather not be flashed as I sit on the stand. “Sister, you really should get that mole looked at.”

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  9. Jenn on March 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    The more we make it “forbidden fruit” the more men will have a hard time keeping thoughts pure. If we present it as non-sexual, social mores will change it won’t cause inappropriate thoughts or behavior for someone who doesn’t already have issues they need to be taking care of.
    And yes, for a church so focused on motherhood, we sure love to stick young moms in a closet.
    I always covered with a nursing cover if males were present (I wouldn’t have in a YW class for instance) but I’ll admit, I did it only because society hasn’t caught up with common sense.

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  10. alice on March 3, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    Come Mother’s Day we’ll be getting the rhetorical pats on the head and I wonder if any of the men coming up with those clichés then will stop to consider how offensive it feels in light of this sort of stuff that tells the real story about women’s place in the church.

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  11. FireTag on March 3, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    This one mystifies me. I do understand the acronym YW, don’t I? Are you assuming there are SSA people in YW, or what?

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  12. LovelyLauren on March 3, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    I don’t see an issue for mother’s feeding (covered or uncovered) during Sacrament meeting. It’s a quiet meeting, easy to look away, and anyone can get up and leave at any point.

    YW strikes me as a little different. You’re basically talking about a captive audience in a room where it would be very difficult to look away. If a young woman was uncomfortable, she really couldn’t leave. In that case, I think it’s reasonable to ask someone to cover while they breastfeed.

    Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I see a huge difference between feeding uncovered in a huge room with no social interaction where everyone is facing the same way and can leave at any point than in a small room where you can’t acceptable leave or look away at any point.

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  13. Proud Daughter of Eve on March 3, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    LovelyLauren, most of those girls in YW will probably be mothers themselves some day. What kind of message are we sending them when we allow a woman to be “fired” from her calling for performing such a basic mothering task?

    You can ask someone to cover up but you can’t ask an infant to leave the thing in place. They’ll try to toss it off because they’re hot or they’ll try to play peek-a-boo at the same time which is more active/eye-catching than a contented child quietly nursing at an uncovered breast.

    There are also various nursing tops/dresses out there but I’ll just note that adding yet another layer to everything us garment-wearing moms wear really doesn’t work. You’ve got to pull this one up and push THAT one down and unhook THIS catch… again, much more attention-grabbing than just pulling a neckline aside and getting on with life.

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  14. alice on March 3, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Thank you, Proud Daughter of Eve. I was going to say the same thing.

    Why do we assume young women would have a problem with a natural female process? That sounds more like a male projection to me — and, frankly, from a couple generations back.

    Any YM who can’t handle nursing would have an excellent opportunity to discover that and to talk it through to a more healthy attitude well before it became a very real issue in their life and the life of their baby/ies.

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  15. LovelyLauren on March 3, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    I think it’s worth pointing out that a huge part of the problem with this whole conversation is how little we really know about it. How do you know that the young women in this ward didn’t say something to another leader or their parents? How many times was this lady asked politely to please use a cover? How open was she being about it? Was she really as discrete as everyone “one her side” claims that they are when they nurse?

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask someone to use a cover in a room full of young women who are unable to leave in a socially acceptable way or to look away/face another direction. Weirdly enough, 95% of women manage to breastfeed with a cover just fine. It’s only the really pro-breastfeeding crowd who seems to insist that it’s impossible.

    And if she’s been asked repeatedly to use a cover and has repeatedly refused, I don’t think it’s out of line for her to be released from her calling.

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  16. anon on March 3, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Here’s an idea: let’s not bombard nursing moms with callings that interfere with taking care of their babies’ needs.

    LovelyLauren: would you like to wear a cover over your head while you are eating a meal? Or how about the people who are offended wear a cover over their own heads?

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  17. alice on March 3, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    I love it, anon! The offended taking responsibility for their own sensitivities? Yes, indeed!

    Allowing the mothers of very young children the time to do their mothering undistracted? I’m ashamed that didn’t even occur to me.

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  18. Hedgehog on March 4, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    This got me thinking back to my own experience, feeding my daughter. Perhaps I’m particularly ham-fisted, or not particularly dexterous anyway, but I found it a hard juggle to be dealing with clothing and a baby, never mind throwing a blanket or cover into the mix.

    PDofE: “You’ve got to pull this one up and push THAT one down and unhook THIS catch… again..”

    And then reverse it all afterwards! How many hands have I got? Got to admire those who manage discreetly and no-one notices because that wasn’t me. I did try feeding my daughter in sacrament meeting once, sitting in a corner towards the back of the chapel. A total disaster, because she was far too curious to settle down to feeding. She was going to need the privacy even if I didn’t. Well, I absolutely refused to use the ‘facilities’ set aside for the purpose: a single cold hard chair in a cold cubicle in the ladies WC. A horrible environment, even if I could have got comfortable on the chair, which I couldn’t. The upshot of negotiations was that I was given sole use of the Bishop’s office. If I was in there, he had to wait.

    Anon: “Here’s an idea: let’s not bombard nursing moms with callings that interfere with taking care of their babies’ needs.”

    This was me. I was released from all callings following the birth of both my children, at my request. I was initially told I could take a few weeks off, until I felt well enough to get back to it, but my argument was that the stress of having a calling I wasn’t doing, even if I had been told I could take time off, was too much to cope with on top of everything else. I didn’t want it nagging at the back of my mind the whole time. As I had suspected, both times it was months before I was capable of functioning in a calling, not the weeks I’m pretty sure had been anticipated.

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  19. LovelyLauren on March 4, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    Alice, like I said: 95% of mothers manage to feed with a cover just fine, it’s just the really militant breastfeeders who seem to insist that this is impossible.

    Not that you seem to be at all interested in what I’m saying. By all means, continue to repeat the same five buzz-wordy lines that get beaten to death in such conversations.

    If I was a baby, I wouldn’t care if I had to eat with a blanket over my head, because I would be a baby.

    And for the record, I’m not opposed to breastfeeding without a cover at all. I’m not at all offended. I just think that it’s inappropriate to do in a room full of young women who can’t look away or leave when you’ve been repeatedly asked not to.

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  20. Jenn on March 4, 2013 at 7:07 AM

    I was “just fine” using a cover but will also admit it was a pain in the butt, but more than anything it just shouldn’t be necessary! And my baby certainly did care, as evidenced by the active game of “hey mommy, look how quickly I can pull the cover off” that we played from months 6-10. We lived in hot and humid Houston and the poor kid would emerge from a nursing session all pink and sweaty- as would I.

    Yes I COULD do make it work, but I shouldn’t have had to!

    If a group of YW feel they need to look away (and I don’t know why they couldn’t- are their eyes glued to the woman’s boobs?) or leave the room, then we need to use this as a teaching experience and help it become LESS awkward- not by removing the nursing woman (which will only leave the women less prepared for the next time they encounter something like this) but by using a safe place to let the the YW warm up to the idea and see breastfeeding as the natural, normal, and common thing that it is.

    But then, I actively make sure my kids- including my now 5-yo boy- get exposed to uncovered breastfeeding so it never does get to the point that my kids either find it either too awkward to stand or find themselves to curious to look away. Just a couple weeks ago at a playgroup I asked a good friend (who was nursing uncovered) if she wouldn’t mind explaining to my son what she was doing and why- and my son found it moderately interesting for a little bit but overall not a big deal.

    My sister came to visit while her and I were both in the breastfeeding stages with our babies. She finally got the guts up to ask my husband if he would be ok with her not always wearing the cover at my house in fear of him coming into the room while nursing.
    He was confused as to why she would even need to ask. “Now that I finally know what a nursing woman looks like, I promise you, nursing-boob just doesn’t ‘do it’ for me. You have nothing to worry about”. And like that, it was a non-issue.

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  21. Henry on March 4, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Proud Daughter of Eve:
    Breastfeeding is a personal thing between mother and child and why should other people have to see that?

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  22. alice on March 4, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    Bottle feeding is a personal thing between a mother and her child. Why should anyone have to see that?

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  23. Usually a lurker on March 4, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Maybe I’m the exception, but I would have been hugely uncomfortable as a young woman if a leader was breastfeeding her infant in the room during YWs. Yes, it’s natural, but it’s something I had never seen before at that age. I question anyone who knowingly makes others uncomfortable just to make a point. I don’t know that the woman was doing this, but I’m sure some would advocate that.

    And yes, the baby’s comfort is important as well, but really, there are numerous ways to breastfeed and take care of baby’s needs while also being considerate of others.

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  24. Usually a lurker on March 4, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    Should have said “breastfeeding her infant without a covering.”

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  25. LDS Anarchist on March 5, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    There needs to be a breastocalypse where all nursing LDS mothers designate a Sunday (or a month of Sundays) where they will openly feed their children during church, no blankets, no hiding in the bathroom, etc. That’ll show ‘em (literally!) It can be the follow-up to the pants thing, taking back the power one breast at a time.

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  26. hawkgrrrl on March 5, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    UALurker: Truth be told, I too would have been incredibly uncomfortable watching a woman breastfeed when I was a teen because I had not seen it before (as a youngest child). When I was a senior in high school our home study seminary moved to early morning at someone’s home. The teacher was also a La Leche League volunteer and had big posters showing how to do breastfeeding properly so she could train new mothers. Was I scandalized? Yes, a bit. But I needed to get over it, because she was providing a service that is important, and it’s not inherently shameful and shouldn’t be embarrassing.

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  27. anon on March 5, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    I think we are really missing two important aspects of this situation:

    1. Women with babies should not be given callings in which they are not able to accommodate their babies’ needs. If you don’t want mothers breastfeeding in front of the young women then don’t giving nursing moms callings in young women.

    2. It is really really frightening that a disagreement with local leaders over something that is not doctrinal can lead to a threat of the loss of temple recommend. We certainly do not have all the details but it seems to me that local leaders were being heavy handed. We should not fear our local leadership. Leaders should not use fear as a tool for control.

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  28. Usually a lurker on March 5, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Hawk: yes, it might have been an opportunity for a great lesson as a YW–it all depends on how it is handled by the leader in question, I suppose, and her intentions. If her intention is solely to make a point, it could cause awkwardness/a bad experience for the girls and other leaders. If her intentions are simply to accommodate her baby’s needs while fulfilling a difficult calling, of course it could be a great opportunity for learning.

    I too question why someone who has such a small infant would have such a big calling. My babies needed breastfeeding every two hours in the infant stage–it would have been very, very difficult to meet my baby’s needs and feel like I was doing an adequate job in YWs as well. Maybe being a little less squeamish about breastfeeding in public would have solved the problem, but I never got over that squeamishness, unfortunately.

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  29. Usually a lurker on March 5, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Hawk: yes, it might have been an opportunity for a great lesson as a YW–it all depends on how it is handled by the leader in question, I suppose, and her intentions. If her intention is solely to make a point, it could cause awkwardness/a bad experience for the girls and other leaders. If her intentions are simply to accommodate her baby’s needs while fulfilling a difficult calling, of course it could be a great opportunity for learning.

    I too question why someone who has such a small infant would have such a big calling. My babies needed breastfeeding every two hours in the infant stage–it would have been very, very difficult to meet my baby’s needs and feel like I was doing an adequate job in YWs as well. Maybe being a little less squeamish about breastfeeding in public would have solved the problem, but I never got over that squeamishness. I’m a very self-conscious person–I realize this and own it.

    One thought: we might be missing one aspect of the story. Perhaps she was released from her calling (to her great joy and relief perhaps?) because her breastfeeding in public made the bishop realize how difficult it is. Maybe it was a release done out of kindness/concern.

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  30. Usually a lurker on March 5, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Sorry for the double post, my computer was acting wonky.

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  31. Justin on March 6, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    LDSA’s proposition in #25 sounds like what I suggested about a year ago:

    Breast-feed openly and in public:

    In most states, it is legal for a mother to breastfeed in any place she is legally allowed to be at. Meaning, if this is the case in your state — then even when asked to “cover-up” or to “stop doing that here“. You are free to openly keep your child on the breast as long as she/he desires to be.

    The sex-culture has completely co-opted the breast and made it into another sexual organ. It shows how disconnected we all really are from our Mother — that anyone would dare insist that a woman feeding, bonding with, and comforting a child should “cover it up” or “go somewhere else“.

    The ability to completely sustain a human life by your breasts is a Divine attribute that makes a woman the high priestess of her family. Such a thing should never be covered-up or hidden away in a spare closet.

    Most LDS meeting houses provide a “nursing room” for mothers to go to when their children want to be on the breast. Stop using this room — and instead, as the men manifest the calling of a priest by openly displaying the image of Christ in administering the sacrament — stay in the meeting room and manifest the calling of a priestess by openly displaying the image of the Mother by administering life and love to a child.

    Spicing up your church experience: women’s edition

    which was based off what my wife does [and encourages other sisters do as well]. We included that recommendation in the Spicing up your church experience post because she’s been told in both secular and religious setting to “put that away” when she’s nursed our children.

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  32. CL on March 6, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Sorry, but I’m having a hard time figurign out why avoiding awkwardness or distractions should be the basis of a decision. Maybe, just maybe, that awkwardness isn’t a good thing, and repeated exposure to breast feeding will make for a much more well-adjusted YW (or YM, for that matter).

    Sure, you may have some youth who lose focus or be distracted or even have “dirty” thoughts for a week or two, but it seems to me that the long-term investment would pay off in a YM or YW who can better learn to control his or thoughts and behaviors. I’d happily give up a few weeks of Church lessons to be able to pass on that real life lesson to our overly-sensitive youth.

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  33. hawkgrrrl on March 7, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    CL – your comment reminded me of the axiom: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill the Buddha.” It’s a very wise saying that people in all religions would do well to ponder. When we place certain things mentally off limits or imbue them with power that is beyond their natural power, we need to question why we are doing that and kill that impulse in ourselves. We live our lives in fear of what can only harm us because we gave it our own power.

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  34. Toni on March 8, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    #19 – “Alice, like I said: 95% of mothers manage to feed with a cover just fine, it’s just the really militant breastfeeders who seem to insist that this is impossible.”

    Actually, in my experience as a breastfeeding mother, the quote needs to read differently to be an honest quote:

    “It’s just the really militant breastfeeding babies who seem to insist that this is impossible.”

    As far as creeped out teenagers go, when I was around 12/13/15 (continuing until she stopped having babies), I had an aunt who would breastfeed while I was at her house. Gasp! I actually saw her skin, above the baby’s head, because she had a button-down shirt. She didn’t seem to care WHO was at her house when she did this nefarious act!

    The way she so casually and naturally fornicated right in front of me traumatized me so horrendously that I went on to nurse each of my babies for a minimum of 13 months – even without emotional support from my spouse. Eww! Can you imagine someone’s example of nursing their babies as if it was no more perverted than drinking a cup of water? What a bunch of sickos breastfeeding women are! Lock ‘em up, I say! Lock ‘em all up and throw away the key!

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