This photo of me breastfeeding my son and my friend’s son went viral two years ago and I have seen and heard opinions of support and outrage.
My desicion to nurse this little baby was never in question for me, as I knew it was the right thing to do. He was under my care at 6 months old when I breastfed him for the first time. I was able to relieve his digestive issues, ease his mother’s mind, and conveniently feed two babies.
I asked my husband to take this picture one day, when I realized my friend’s son had not asked to nurse in awhile and it was possibly one of the last times we would share a moment like this.
I was not thrilled with how I looked or the set up, but you can’t stage a picture with nursing toddlers and I get terribly nervous in front of a camera!
I then realized it was World Breastfeeding Week and posted the picture to breastfeeding support groups I was in, to celebrate wet nursing still being an option. Someone “stole” the picture from one of the groups and leaked it into the world.
I was inundated with support and criticism, reporters and interviews.
We made the best of the situation, using it as an opportunity to spread awareness about milk sharing, wet nursing, and breastfeeding in general.
I did read many hateful and uneducated comments, that surprisingly did not phase me. I knew then how confident I was in my actions and beliefs. How could feeding a child ever be wrong?
The one phrase I saw over and over, that was the most irritating to me, was: “I support breastfeeding, but…”.
If you support breastfeeding, you know there is no shame, no need to hide it, no need to cover up, no need to deny a baby the comfort of nursing because he isn’t your child (with permission from parents of course).
I’m sure debates will continue on, but my hope is that at least one person will realize:
• It is normal and recommended by the World Health Organization to breastfeed until at least 2 years of age.
• The World Health Organization promotes breastfeeding as the optimal source of nutrition for babies. If that is not possible, then a wet nurse or milk donor is recommended. As a last resort, formula should be used. (I personally take no issue with mothers who formula feed. I am sure you have good reason to feed your child as you do. (Hugs to moms everywhere feeding their babies around the clock during that first year!)
• The more we see breastfeeding in public, uncovered and unapologetic, the more it will become a part of our accepted culture again.
Now, if you still take issue with my breastfeeding picture and are getting upset, try Googling historical breastfeeding photos. See if you get as mad at the wealthy women sitting for paintings while breastfeeding, or the vintage photos of mothers nursing their babies. I know, they didn’t post it to Facebook, but maybe they would have if it existed!