Breastfeeding has been prescribed to new mothers at large by the medical community, but it has not been embraced by our culture. Breastfeeding women are harassed, physically removed from public spaces, told to cover up, and made to feel dirty and shameful.
This fear of harassment creates an untenable situation for women hoping to simply feed their children in the manner that is biologically normal. We live in a misogynistic culture that places endless restrictions on the behaviors and bodies of women. Society is uncomfortable with public breastfeeding, because it is uncomfortable with women. Changing society’s attitudes about breastfeeding, alters the power imbalance for all women.
Women come into these shoots from all different backgrounds, from different perspectives and experiences. They have various reasons for being drawn to participate. Some have overcome a great deal of difficulty in order to meet their breastfeeding goals, and for some, breastfeeding has been a nearly seamless experience. They all are eager to share their stories, to celebrate the beauty and strength of the nursing mother. To celebrate their own strength and beauty. To stand in solidarity with women the world over and have their experiences seen. To take their power back.
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“As long as I could remember I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Between my three children I have breastfed for a total of 27 months (and counting). When I first started, I was uneducated and ended up switching to formula after 5.5 months. I couldn’t keep up my supply and was devastated I couldn’t provide for him. My second son was born at 25 weeks 4 days. It was so stressful and an up and down battle trying to figure out if he was allergic to my milk or developing NEC. I was told to stop pumping, then to restart. Ultimately, I refused to be a slave to the pump and after pumping for 2.5 months, doing my research, and spending lots of time trying to get him to latch, I nursed my itty bitty until he was 15 months old! I had my third baby in December of 2014, I had a repeat c-section, and knew I wanted to have skin to skin as soon as possible and let him crawl to my breast. He did, and thus our breastfeeding relationship started. We are almost seven months strong!”
” My breastfeeding struggle is probably different from most: I was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer (in my chest area) when my daughter was 5 months old, and as a result, had to stop breastfeeding. Throughout my treatment, I continued to pump (& dump) to keep my supply up in hopes that I could once again breastfeed my baby. At times, it was very difficult and I wanted to give up; however, I pushed through as it was very important to me. Now at 1 year, my daughter, Hannah, has no problem breastfeeding and I have maintained my supply. However, I still face challenges: I struggle with my body image and scars as a result of surgery, and find it difficult to breastfeed in public due to the fact that I have developed lymphedema and have a challenging time managing the swelling in my chest while breastfeeding.”
“My body may have diseases but it was also able to grow two humans. When I see my c-section scar I used to look at it with sadness, but now when I see it I see how strong I am. I look at this photo and I see everything that we’ve been through, and I’m thankful. I’m thankful my second son was born full term and healthy. I’m thankful that my body has made milk for the last 5.5 years. I know to some people they think I’ve nursed them too long, and believe me the days have been long, but the years have flown by. I don’t for one second regret breastfeeding them, letting them self wean. I am so thankful to have given them this precious gift. The days are long, but the years are so short.”
“I found my thing on May 9th 2011. It took 27 years, 2 months, and 1 day, but it hit hard and fast and just like my friend Joey, I just knew. The day I became a mother was the day I finally found out who I was meant to be. Who I am meant to be. It’s everything I thought it would be and so much more. It makes life magical and mystical and wonderful. Everything I had looked for for so long.”
“Today I breastfed on a beach with total strangers and never felt more beautiful or empowered as a new mom ever! Feeling confident in my own skin nursing my son as the sun rose over the pier changed our bond. Looking down at him feeding and smiling as the water hit my back… made me realize how important that moment truly is… the moment when you look down at them and they look up at you smiling, the soon to be giggling and wiggling. That is the moment we cherish… the moment that is gone so soon. Unconditional Love.”
“It’s our special thing. I have an incredibly demanding job an I’m eternally grateful to my husband and family for the constant support they give me with Kendall. I am convinced her and I are the luckiest girls on the planet. Aside from the undisputed health benefits, it has forged a truly beautiful and amazing bond between her and I. She knows that I’m her mommy, my milk is hers, and she is mine. I cherish every special moment her and I have while she nurses. The way she holds my finger, the way she peeks out the corner of her eyes, the way she smacks her lips satisfied when she’s done, the way her skin feels next to mine. These are moments I hope remain etched in my heart for the rest of my days. One day I may feel like she doesn’t need me anymore. But this was our special thing. And she did.”
“Between my son and daughter I have been breastfeeding for a combined two and a half years so far. I’ve always been passionate about breastfeeding but aside from sporadic ramblings to those close to me, it’s been a quiet passion and one that before now, I was not able to prove through actions. I rarely breastfed in public because I find it uncomfortable to make other people uncomfortable. I would go through extremes to avoid breastfeeding In public and would routinely plan outings so that I would hopefully not have to. I don’t regret my decisions per se, but I did nothing to help change people’s minds about normalizing breastfeeding. So, it’s remarkable to me that I found myself in public wearing only my underwear while nursing my 15 month old.”
“As a black Deaf mama – it’s so critical that I show support in two very distinct and diverse communities: the Black community and the Deaf community. As a first time mama – I knew I would breastfeed my kids, and for as long as they wanted. When my daughter was born and put on my breast for the first time – I immediately felt that strong connection that I so dearly desired. I’m currently breastfeeding my nearly 21 month old (and we will continue until she decides it’s time to let go) and it’s the best thing in the world. The glances she give me, the upsets, the struggles, the sadness, and at the end of the day when she was so busy learning about the world, we settle down and just close up the day with nursing….. it’s all worth it. That’s what I want everyone to experience and have a chance at like I did.”
“Of course I still have negative thoughts about my body. Of course I compare myself to others, eat things I know I shouldn’t, restrict myself unnecessarily, sometimes do too little, or too much. Of course I look in the mirror and fantasize about having perky young breasts, a flat tummy, smooth skin… but then I remember that there are three little girls learning from me how to treat and think about their bodies, and my job is to demonstrate that sincere gratitude I have for the body that brought them here to me. That’s how modeling positive body regard for them makes it real for me.”
Theresea, Washington, DC
“Having a group of other moms to share your shyness with was just rewarding and got me to jump out of my shell and just be proud to embrace the gift of breast-feeding. This moment together got me to love my body and all the battle wounds it incurred from childbirth. I too carry my imperfections and kangaroo pouch with pride because it brought me two lovely gifts called Clayton and Carter.”
Larisa, Washington, DC
When I nursed my now 9 year old son, social media wasn’t as big, and I never even knew that breastfeeding in public wasn’t widely accepted. I was breastfed and always knew I would breastfeed my own children, and I grew up thinking that’s what was normal. Breastfeeding was not always easy, especially in the beginning, but I had an amazingly supportive husband, mother and wonderful friends who helped us succeed. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have breastfed two children, for a total of 5 years, and have never experienced negative comments.
“After five years of infertility, one successful ivf / icsi, and an emergency cesarean section, my husband and I have two beautiful boys. My body isn’t what it use to be. My breasts are now feeding my children, my stomach has a few marks that it never had before, and I will always have a scar where my children were taken from my body at thirty-four weeks and two days. When some husbands see bad in that change, mine has embraced it. When some women can be discouraged by their new body, I have found strength. This women in the wild movement is exactly what society needed to open their eyes to something so normal, but yet so taboo in today’s world. We are blessed to be a part of it.”
“This January, my daughter entered my life. It was as if I finally understood that God create me perfectly imperfect and I desperately want her to know that as well. My stomach now stretched and marbled, my breast full of milk, my hair a little frazzled from her little hands grabbing strands to pull me in for a kiss. I’ve never felt more beautiful and confident than I have now as her mother.”
Washington, DC Group
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