Q. 1. My friend stopped going to Church when her child was born. She said it is because the baby cries during the service due to hunger. And she does not think that the Church allows mothers to breastfeed their child in Church. What is the Church policy on this matter?
A. 1. There is no rubric or doctrine on this matter. The views of the faithful vary greatly on the subject. During 2014 and 2015, while baptising a large number of newborns, Pope Francis I advised the mothers to feed the crying children if they were hungry. That seems to be the logical thing to do.
Unfortunately, where there are humans of different backgrounds, there is bound to be disagreement. What follows are some opinions regarding breastfeeding in Church:
- Feed the child before going to Church (to avoid the crying) or after the Mass (let him cry).
- Nurse the infant during the Mass. There is no problem if it is done discreetly with an infant blanket.
- Feed the child in the quiet room that is reserved for parents and very young children.
- Feed the child in the back of the Church so it will not draw attention.
- Feed the child in the bathroom. Many parents find the suggestion of taking an infant into the washroom to be repulsive.
Whatever method is used, it should be done with common sense with the ability to conduct oneself in a graceful manner.