#hearLDSwomen: We Were Not Allowed to Improve the Breastfeeding Facilities
My mother was the Relief Society president in a ward that had a very high birth rate and a tiny mother’s room with just one or two chairs in it. Women, of course, were highly encouraged in “modesty” while breastfeeding, but the hardest thing was that there wasn’t enough space. Women were going out to their cars to nurse and missing church.
My mother had a solution: make an unused room into an extended mother’s lounge by covering windows and purchasing comfy chairs. She talked to the bishop about it, but he sat on it for 5-6 months. My mother was frustrated that she was not allowed to do something for these women – she felt like it was both discouraging her ingenuity and undermining her role.
Lo and behold, months later one of the bishop’s counselors’ wives had a baby, and suddenly they had this revelation – this brilliant idea they came up with to solve the problem of an overcrowded nursing room.
My mother let them finally enact her plan, but she told me how odd it was that it took the guys having a personal connection to the issue to recognize the need. No amount of pleading for action changed their minds before that.
My mother doesn’t see this as an abuse of power. She says it was the Lord’s timing, but I bet the Lord’s timing would have been faster if they tried to see the women’s perspective before then.
When I lived in Idaho, the mother’s room was seriously under-resourced. We mothers were told how important it was that we be modest at church and to make sure that the door to the room was shut before we exposed ourselves.
The problem was, there wasn’t a curtain or privacy screen in the room, so every time someone opened the door, everyone in the hall could see everyone in the room.
The stake president’s daughter-in-law was one of the young moms nursing a baby. The stake didn’t want to invest in a hanging curtain (I guess because hardware?), but his daugher-in-law found a standing screen at a local furniture store for under $50 and requested that the stake provide that for the stake center’s mother’s room.
The stake sat on that for TWO YEARS until, finally, the screen was okayed.
I’m not even sure the stake paid for the screen. I think the mothers ended up paying for it. But we weren’t allowed to put it up until the stake high council was okay with it.
In the meantime, however, we mothers were still told to be modest!
Pro tip: If there are any nursing mothers under your stewardship, make sure they are supported with the resources necessary to feed their babies. While mothers should feel free to feed their babies wherever they’re most comfortable, make sure to provide a functional and welcoming mother’s room.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)