A Breastfeeding At Shul Story: Creating A Nursing Room From Thin Air!

For a short change of pace, I’m sharing the story of how one couple and their new baby went outside the box to find a way to make breastfeeding possible and comfortable in their synagogue.   They are staying anonymous by their own request.

 “It all started when my husband asked me before yom tov if i wanted to come to shul, and I replied, well, where would I feed the baby?   A few friends, rebbetzins and trips to IKEA and Buy Buy Baby later, voila; the nursing room was born!”

The story, of course, is more complicated and more interesting than that.  As with many synagogues, there is little unused spae just waiting around to be used.  In fact, the only place that was suitable for the room (neither very public,  nor a closet) was the mikvah waiting room. So every shabbos, the nursing room is set up and then Saturday night everything is put away again, so that when you walk into the waiting room, you would never guess that it was also a nursing room.

The nursing room’s secret identity was carefully arranged, so as to be sensitive to the women who are coming to the mikvah. Mikvah night can be very challenging to those who are having a hard time conceiving, and having reminders of breastfeeding aka fertility in those women’s faces would be an insensitive and painful experience.   So they put in extra work to be sensitive to Everyone’s needs.  It takes only a few minutes to set up and take apart.

The room is furnished with  a changing table, a changing pad, and diaper genie, two comfy chairs and nursing stools, boppie pillows and nursing covers.  To help mothers with more than one child, they also provided a carpet with a racetrack design with some toy cars, a dolly with a small stroller, and some books.  Everything but the chairs goes into a closet during the week.  The room is set up so that more than one mother can use it at once, so that no one has to worry that their baby will be hungry and they won’t have access to a space to feed them.  The total cost was “only a few hundred dollars”.

For the family who created (generating both the idea and the funds) the nursing room, the best part is that women really use it.  Having the room available has increased the number of women coming to shul, especially young orthodox mothers with one or more small children, who usually get left out of ritual and services.

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