As nursing moms, one of the biggest struggles we face is nursing in public. From feeling self conscious and getting glared at by strangers to people saying that we need to go to the bathroom to nurse or that nursing in public is like having sex in public, nursing moms have it really hard when it comes to feeding their babies in public locations. This can often lead moms to feel like they have to be confined to their homes. Many moms even give up breastfeeding prematurely so that they can go out and be accepted in public. I personally am very conservative and did not have much exposure to breastfeeding growing up so, naturally, I felt very self conscious nursing outside my home. So in the newborn days when Daniel would not stop nursing, I stayed home as much as possible and, consequently, became depressed. I am now making a conscious effort to breastfeed in public more and to support other mothers that do.
While doing some research online, I came across the Nursing "IS" Normal project and decided to highlight it here in honor of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month. The project was spearheaded by Kathy O'Brien, a birth doula and HypnoBabies instructor in Fort Worth, Texas. She took photographs of volunteer moms in her area breastfeeding their babies in public locations around town. The goal of the project was to show people that nursing is normal in the hopes that one day people will be so used to seeing it that it will no longer stand out or seem strange. Kathy also hopes to empower women everywhere to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public and not feel like they have to be confined to their homes. The photographs were exhibited at The Art of Birth in fort Worth.Here is a slide show of some of the pictures from part two of Kathy's project:
But the project didn't end there. Kathy went on to do a part two and even three of her project and the project caught on throughout the nation. In Brattleboro, Vermont, parents Zachary and Michelle Stephens hosted their own Nursing "IS" Normal project. The photographs were showcased in an Art of Breastfeeding show sponsored by the Windham County Breastfeeding Coalition in collaboration with the Arts Council of Windham County. Here is a slide show of the photographs:
In Madison, Wisconsin, Lea Wolf, co-founder of Happy Bambino, Madison's all in one resource for pregnancy, birth, babies and breastfeeding, photographed the nursing moms. Alison Dodge, the other co-founder of Happy Bambino, was the administrator. Here are some of their photographs:
In Charlotte, North Carolina, the photographers were Juliet Simpson and Laura Sing, with guest photography by Nathaniel Meyer and Kaylie Plummer. Here are some of their photos:
None of the people involved in these projects received any compensation and there were no profits made from these videos. Everyone involved simply has a passion for breastfeeding, a desire to see nursing in public become the norm, and a heart to help new moms feel comfortable breastfeeding their children anytime, anywhere. The slide shows are beautiful and highlight how natural breastfeeding really is. Hopefully the project will continue to spread and our generation will truly get to see nursing for what it really is, the most natural way to feed our babies!