It’s all kinds of outrageous to think that even in this day and age, breastfeeding moms are harassed as frequently as they are for breastfeeding in public. It’s all nice and good that breastfeeding is heralded by every major health organization as the optimal way to feed babies, but if you can’t leave your house to do it, how exactly is that supposed to work?
Even if they haven’t been harassed, most breastfeeding moms will tell you they’ve had moments of feeling uncomfortable or apprehensive about nursing outside their homes more times than they can count. That is exactly why having positive role models — people who can support and reassure you — is vital for breastfeeding moms.
And what better person to play that role than one of the most powerful voices in the moral, spiritual, and religious world — i.e., the Pope himself!
Yep, Pope Francis has spoken out about breastfeeding in public — and he’s totally for it.
This past Sunday, the Pope was officiating a baptism of 28 little ones in the Sistine Chapel when — unsurprisingly — a few of the babies started to fuss. According to The Washington Post, rather than getting annoyed, Pope Francis played it cool, joking that “the concert has begun.”
Realizing that some of the babies were probably fussing because they were hungry, the Pope told the moms that they should feel free to nurse during the ceremony. “The ceremony is a little long, someone’s crying because he’s hungry. That’s the way it is,” the pontiff said, according to The Guardian.
The Washington Post also reports that at least one mom took him up on his offer, and breastfed her baby right there, during the ceremony.
The Pope then went on to reassure the moms further, pointing out that breastfeeding is actually encouraged and celebrated by their religion. “You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear,” he said. “Just like the Virgin Mary nursed Jesus.”
Oh my goodness, is it possible to love this guy any more?
And you don’t have to be a Catholic (or even a religious person at all) to appreciate the way that the Pope seems to understand how breastfeeding is one of the most natural, ancient, and downright holy experiences of motherhood — and that there’s absolutely no reason why moms should feel like they can’t do it literally anywhere.
This actually isn’t the first time Pope Francis has shown utmost support for breastfeeding moms. In 2015, the Pope used some similarly reassuring words while performing a baptism in the Sistine Chapel:
“You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don’t worry,” he told the crowd of parents and babies at the time.
The Pope’s support of breastfeeding moms was first voiced publicly in a 2013 interview with an Italian journalist, when he shared the story of a mother who was feeling less than comfortable with breastfeeding her baby at an event he’d recently attended:
“She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the pope was passing,” he recalled. “I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.”
And that’s what it’s all about really: the simple task of “giving your baby something to eat.” It’s hard to understand what is so controversial about breastfeeding a baby in public, especially since no one exactly enjoys listening to a baby fuss in a public space, and breastfeeding usually solves both the hunger and the fussing.
Hopefully, Pope Francis’ clear message will encourage more mothers to feed their babies wherever they happen to be — whether at church, the library, a school, or even on line at the grocery store (been there, done that).