People sometimes ask me why I take breastfeeding photos and share them, write about breastfeeding, and run a natural parenting support page on Facebook that features quite a bit of breastfeeding. I am not always sure what to say because each person is coming from a different place. The vast majority of the women and men that I come across on a daily basis are kind and supportive of breastfeeding and either share stories and photos of their own or are fully supportive of mothers who do. Others, think they support breastfeeding, but only up to a certain point. Even more are unfortunately convinced with a fiery passion that breastfeeding photos, like breastfeeding in public, should not be done. They assert that mothers should be covered up, and photos are gross, lewd, or indecent and should most definitely not be shared. Now I understand that many are raised with these opinions but inflicting whatever personal biases they may have on others is not healthy or helpful in any way. These individuals suppose that breastfeeding supporters like myself are exhibitionists, are wasting our time on a made-up cause that doesn’t really matter, or that we are just shoving our breasts down their throats trying to make women who didn’t breastfeed or nurse past a certain age feel guilty. That certainly is not what I feel I am doing. My aim will never be to try to convince others that they need to do exactly what I am doing or they’re not doing it right.
My ambition is simple.
I don’t share my breastfeeding photos because I think they will change the minds of those who think differently. I share my breastfeeding photos to show the people who already think like me that they are not alone.
My poster of these words:
(Thank you for sharing a olabetiku poster, Heather Cushman-Dowdee, that inspired me to make my own poster this morning.)
Why share my photos on the internet? When I have issues in my breastfeeding relationship, I turn to the internet and friends and family who have breastfed for answers and kindness. I realize that is exactly what many other mothers do as well. I know this because there are thousands of breastfeeding support groups and pages and articles that talk about the things we need to read and see. Mothers who breastfeed need to be reminded of the benefits of breastfeeding and feel societal support to make it to their goals. There is a need for this presence online and supportive photos and posters spread like wildfire, reminding mothers that what they’re doing is important and to not give up or feel alone. My page has helped nearly two hundred thousand people find what they’re looking for at it’s one year anniversary and yesterday alone it received over 4,600 page views about a breastfeeding photo that Facebook banned. While the support for breastfeeding sometimes seems pervasive, all encompassing that it brings tears of joy to my eyes, there is a constant negativity out there that we are facing on a daily basis, whether or not we choose to pay attention to it is up to us. When I read one negative nursing in public incident after the other about mothers and children being harassed and shamed for merely doing what is legal and natural, I feel sad about the state of the world. Thankfully, this reminds me that showing support for mothers could never be more important than it is now.
However long or short a mother chooses to breastfeed is up to her and her child, and she deserves support. I know that what works best for my family at this moment doesn’t need to match up with the US average for me to feel good about what I am doing. The fact that I am nursing past infancy confuses and disgusts many a naysayer. I am currently tandem nursing a 16 month old and a 3 year old and my personal breastfeeding goal is to not stop nursing my children they wean themselves. I realize I am out of the cultural norm here in America but I am still part of a small but thriving percentage of women who feel similarly. I know that I am not alone. Regardless of everyone else’s goals, it is nice to know there are many, many other mothers like me out there. I am there to show support for them and all mothers by just being myself. Breastfeeding without shame, taking and sharing these beautiful photos of this incredibly short part of motherhood, nursing in public are all wonderful, necessary parts of normalizing breastfeeding. In our own ways, we are all trying to make it through parenthood without feeling that terribly overwhelming sense of isolation that sometimes happens, and attempting to help our children grow into accepting, well-adjusted adults who appreciate the importance of mothers.
My reason for sharing my breastfeeding photos is to share the beauty that is motherhood and to inspire others to share the love. That is all.
Remember that you are not alone. Happy breastfeeding, mamas!
Why do you share your breastfeeding photos?
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