A Note from Chris Adams: Today’s article, by Dr. Deb Douglas, First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA, is such a practical and sensitive approach to accommodate and encourage moms, both those who nurse and those who choose not to. Consider these ideas as you minister to all new moms!
To nurse or not to nurse? That is the question. Really? Because it seems there are thousands of questions that go with nursing. A mother nursing her sweet baby is a beautiful image, but the reality can be a little more challenging.
- Pump or no pump? Am I going to be able to pump when I return to work and a normal busy schedule?
- Public or private? Will I feel comfortable nursing the baby (covered with the monogrammed nursing cover, of course) in public places? Is it OK to nurse in church?
- Enough or too much? How do I know if there’s enough milk to supply the baby’s needs? Or what if I have too much milk and find myself leaving a drippy trail everywhere I go?
- Guilt or Shame? How do I deal with the shame and guilt imposed on me by passionate nursing advocates if I choose not to nurse?
- What if I can’t do it? Does it mean I’m not a good mom?
And these are the questions from just the first 5 minutes of consideration for a new mom when it comes to nursing.
How can churches and women’s ministries make life easier for nursing moms?
1. Provide a comfortable, attractive nursing room stocked with needed supplies. What’s needed:
- A refrigerator with bottled water and room to temporarily store pumped milk.
- Electrical outlets for plugging in a breast pump.
- Comfortable chair (or two). Think small recliner or rocker.
- A table for storing baby’s bag, the pump, and mom’s purse.
- Background music or a television broadcasting the worship service.
2. Educate childcare workers in how to relate with nursing moms. Remind workers that God created the ability to nurse babies. Many moms are afraid to leave their babies in childcare because the workers do not wish to disturb the mothers in order to nurse. The reality is by refusing to notify the mother the baby is hungry, the mother is very much disturbed!
3. Take the time to talk to nursing moms, listen for ways to encourage and help them and other nursing moms.
4. Some days it feels as if all the nursing mom can do is stay in her pj’s and nurse. Often, nursing comes with frustration and exhaustion. Gift nursing moms with an encouragement package containing music to listen to while nursing, devotionals, and nursing supplies. Seek out small ways to encourage moms with texts, emails, and quick phone calls.
5. Set up a mentoring partnership for new moms. Pair seasoned moms with new moms for the purpose of sharing wisdom, tips, and practical solutions to the challenges of motherhood, including nursing.
6. Understand that nursing can be frustrating and hard. Be respectful of this when asking for volunteers or when a nursing mom says she cannot volunteer at this time.
7. Seek out a volunteer to be trained as a nursing coach. Nursing moms have a lot of questions. By offering assistance, the church shows support, acceptance, and compassion.
Nursing is a personal choice. While it is very much in vogue to nurse, there are challenges. If we as women’s ministry leaders can make this one area of motherhood easier, we can change a frazzled mom into a calmer mom. We can help those nursing challenges be transformed into a beautiful image of mother and child!
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.