Breastfeeding and the breast

I don’t know if this is under the right topic but here it goes: what does the Chruch say on breasts if anything? Traditionally, theologically, etc, would a woman exposing her breast to feed her child be considered immodest? I don’t want opinions, I want the facts. Have Church Fathers, Doctors, Popes, Saints, talked about this at all? I want to know what (if) the Church has any sort of stance on this.

Down through the centuries there were various things considered immodest in dress. From elbows to ankles etc. IMO it stemmed from custody of the eyes and not leading others into sin. Fashions and views on the morality has changed over time.

As I haven’t searched specifically for any Doctors of the Church or anyone else for that matter concerning breast feeding, I would think, searching for this would be time consuming.

Perhaps others here have further knowledge and can quote specific documents etc.

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No. It is a natural part of Gods plan for life.
I think men are only attracted to female breasts because society makes them seem so forbidden. In most of history this wasn’t the case and women being topless wouldn’t make a person blink their eyes. In many parts of Europe and other areas of the world it is still like this.
So no, there is nothing about a womens breasts being exposed frankly to do what they were created to do that should be viewed as wrong.

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“And if your children are crying because they are hungry, [Pope Francis] told the mothers present, then go ahead and feed them, just as Mary breastfed Jesus.”


I see women breast feeding all the time during Mass. They use privacy covers.


There is iconography of Mary breastfeeding Jesus. It’s called the Nursing Madonna.


There are no official Magisterial statements, probably because this topic has never been theologically controversial. Here is the Pope’s position.

There is no mention about the need to cover up; that decision is based on personal preference and cultural influence. For what it’s worth, I breastfed three babies through Mass with no booby burka, and I wasn’t the only mom who did.


The absence of discussion on the subject in documents or in history in itself is a sort of answer; it means that it isn’t a controversial subject.

Women sometimes breastfeed in public places. I think common sense can understand that flashing body parts around provokingly and feeding a baby are very different expressions.


I recall in studying art history, you’ll find art from the Renaissance depicting this, a lot of Madonna like ones. Course, some of them look off to me because of how the artist stylizes the woman’s body, but this was seen to hold deeper meaning that wasn’t seen as immodest.

I used to breastfeed during Mass all the time. I used a shirt. :grinning:

Google breastfeeding Virgin Mary images and you’ll find dozens of icons and other religious art, covering a wide variety of time periods, depicting Our Lady breastfeeding. Some of these images are prominently displayed in churches.


I don’t know about other countries, but here, in Poland, there is a strange paradox about the subject - normal breastfeeding mums, both Catholic and non-Catholic but not leftist think it’s ok to feed in public - some cover themselves, some not (I did if there were more people, and not if it was a park with hardly any people around, for example).
However, and here it gets interesting, many leftist activists, including feminists, LGBT kind of people etc think that public breastfeeding is… indecent! Not what they do at the pride parades, but the breastfeeding…
So, if you just went by this standard - if the lefties says it’s wrong - DO IT. :wink:
Seriously, I agree with the posts above. This was just a cultural side-comment.


Up until the 18th century, the “Virgo Lactans”/ “Nursing Madonna” was a popular subject for religious art. Mary was depicted with an exposed breast feeding the baby Jesus. The Church didn’t see anything wrong with this. Nursing women were normal for those times, babies weren’t fed from bottles.

There are also numerous depictions in art of the “Lactation of St. Bernard” depicting a legend about St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a monk who lived in the 1100s. He supposedly was praying when the Nursing Madonna appeared to him and squirted milk either into his mouth (giving him the gift of speaking with wisdom) or into his eye (curing an eye infection) depending on which version you read. Again this wasn’t thought of as anything indecent.

In the modern world, I’m unaware of the Church ever objecting to breastfeeding. They would expect the woman to observe the modesty of the time, place and culture she is in. In the West this would mean using some kind of a modesty cover, like a shawl, not just whipping out a breast. In other cultures it might be normal to see a woman with an exposed breast. There is a photo from 1994 of Pope JPII giving Communion to a topless woman in New Guinea (she doesn’t have much on her bottom either).


Besides there’s a huge difference from a woman feeding a child and trying to seduce somebody.

It doesn’t bother me I look the other way or leave the area if I can and give the woman and her child privacy.

I think it’s a little more than that. Lol

To answer the OP, I don’t think the church viewed it as an issue until more modern times. Ireland was a Catholic country since the Middle of the first milennium yet we have paintings of Irish woman bare chested, in front of family and friends, feeding the babies. I think covering up, insofar as it’s reasonable is grand, but the comfort of mother and child is the main thing.

I don’t think it’s really a moral issue.


I never had anything showing whenever I breastfed. The shirt covered the top and the baby covered the bottom. I pretty much nursed anywhere and most of the time you wouldn’t be able to tell whether I was nursing or just cuddling a sleepy baby close.
Sometimes privacy can be helpful to keep baby from being distracted or maybe allow mom to relax more.


I would actually prefer that women breastfeed their children rather than give them formula bottles.

I don’t care if a woman has her breast out or is covered but I’m not going to stand there and watch the woman that is just creepy and weird.

I guess there might be a split-second temptation to stare at the woman’s breasts but that’s sort of killed by the fact that she’s feeding her child and it’s completely a gross, disgusting, and wacked-out thing to be standing lusting after a nursing mother. :nauseated_face:

Total creepazoid thing to do.

Sometimes due to weather it is better for the mother and child to be uncovered so the child doesn’t get overheated.


“Booby burka,” LOL!!!


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Ok, so what does the Chruch say on breasts if anything? Traditionally, theologically, etc, would a woman exposing her breast to feed her child be considered immodest? I don’t want opinions, I want the facts. Have Church Fathers, Doctors, Popes, Saints, talked about this at all? I want to know what (if) the Church has any sort of stance on this.

You’ve two threads on this topic. Perhaps your other one under moral theology is better suited.

I suggest you edit this thread and delete what was written so people focus on your other thread.


Yeah, I didn’t know which thread was better suited for my question. I’ll delete it soon now thanks.

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