Moms Breastfeed in Very Public Places to Make Nursing 'Normal' (PHOTOS)

moms nursing in publicLeilani Rogers has breastfed four children. The Texas mom nursed her youngest child for 18 months. And for 18 months, she managed to schedule every outing, every doctor's appointment so she never had to nurse in public. In fact, it wasn't until Rogers, a birth photographer, began to take photos of breastfeeding mothers that she felt her own inhibitions about feeding your child out in the public's eye fall away.

It's why Rogers created the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project (PBAP), an annual drive that draws hundreds of moms across America to allow themselves to be photographed ... while breastfeeding. This year's event kicked off in concert with World Breastfeeding Week, and the hashtag #PBAP2014 has already taken social media by storm, spreading photos of nursing moms across the globe. 

"On a global level, the purpose of this project is to help normalize public breastfeeding, something the world unfortunately sexualizes," Rogers told The Stir. "The majority of people support breastfeeding, though the minority that trolls pro-breastfeeding articles/pictures online is very vocal."

Ironically, it's online where the breastfeeding project really got its start. Rogers ran a poll during World Breastfeeding Week in 2013, asking moms where they felt most uncomfortable nursing in public. The answers were fast and furious -- churches, grocery stores, the park, the pool, work, libararies ...

"It dawned on me that I could target specific situations where mothers felt uncomfortable nursing in public by photographing them in those situations," Rogers explained.

"I love preserving this beautiful and natural bond for mothers, and I've seen that through exposure, society becomes more accepting of it and it becomes more 'normal' in their eyes. Not only that, but other mothers see the images and feel a stronger sense of community and support. They walk away from conversations about these images with more confidence, and they are empowered enough to not place so much importance on their society's misguided views about breasts."

More From The Stir: Incredible Images of Babies Being Born Give Us a Look at the Miracle of Birth

So she put out a call for models and got to work taking photos. As she posted the nursing in public, or NIP, images to Facebook, word spread. She began to see other photographers starting their own, similar projects in their own cities, and the idea to step outside of her hometown of Austin was born. 

"It occurred to me to join forces and make this a worldwide effort. I've got at least 50 photographers signed up to participate in the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project this year, in locations all over the US as well as Ireland and Canada," Rogers tells The Stir.

And it isn't just the person behind the lens who has changed. "Model" moms have come out in droves, and from all walks of life.

"This year I have expanded to include working mothers who pump on the job, as well as mothers who bottle-feed or even tube-feed breast milk," Rogers says. "You may notice a mom in a wheelchair in [some] pictures. She was in a terrible car accident after she'd already signed up to both participate in my session and be a photographer herself. Her breasfteeding relationship was cut short due to complications front he accident and told me she didn't think she was a good fit for the project anymore. I told her to come anyway, if anything to honor the dedication she had to breastfeeding her 21- month-old."

Work your way through the images on Facebook from the project, and the response is overwhelming. The word most often repeated? A simple, "love."

"One thing I realized after last year’s project is that these images were encouraging a sense of community among breastfeeding moms," Rogers says. "I received emails and messages from moms who, like me, had avoided breastfeeding in public for fear of scrutiny not only from the public but from other mothers.

"There are organizations like LLL (La Leche League) that offer tremendous support to breastfeeding mothers. But images like these are encouraging and inspiring mothers to breastfeed outside of those walls with more confidence.

"This is one way I hope for this project to make an impact," Rogers continues. "Breastfeeding mothers do face some barriers, but the more the public sees it, the more normal or accepted it will become."

***

Want to get involved? Check Rogers's list of participating photographers on her Facebook page to find out if someone near you is involved in the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project. Post a photo of yourself breastfeeding in public on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, using hashtags #PBAP2014 #worldbreastfeedingweek #supportpublicbreastfeeding #breastfeedinginreallife #thisisnormal. Or share the photos below with one of those hashtags!

Where are YOU most uncomfortable breastfeeding? Does #6 help you feel more comfortable?

 

Image via Leilani Rogers, Photographer

breastfeeding start slideshow

20 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

AliPa... AliParker

I really think this crap is why normal breast feeding moms get so much hate. This is not cute or informational. It's annoying and pushy. Some people don't like to see others breast whether a kid is attached to your nipple or not. Usually that is that persons problem. Because realistically there is little someone can do when they don't want to see a woman breast feeding. But it is not too much to ask that people be discreet. It should not be something that people try to rub in others faces. If woman were normal and discreet about it the most they would ever get is a dirty look, which people get those for hundreds of reasons a day. I can't understand why forcing others around you to witness nipple feeding helps make it normal. It just makes you look stupid and confrontational. I'm personally not bothered by seeing someone breast feed. I'm bothered with this crap and the "I'm better than you" that a lot, if not all, of these moms put out. I breast fed both of my kids for a bit and did formula. I never made anyone watch.

Paws84 Paws84

Just another treehugger begging for attention.

IKnow... IKnow0101

I don't know if its me but what is the big deal about breastfeeding?  Since the beginning of time it has been done but why do we have to constantly have articles about this subject.  Breastfeeding or bottle feeding what ever floats your boat.  I don't think its appropriate to have your breasts hanging out in public regardless of what you need to do.  Nor do I think you need to have pictures of you breastfeeding on websites.  Have a little sense of decency when in public.  They have cloths to cover yourself, blouses so you don't have to show the whole world your business.Now I do believe that larger places like stores, libraries, gyms should provide a nursing room but that's another subject.

nonmember avatar deku

I totally agree with Ali Parker. It's not that hard to use a cover, people.

nonmember avatar Amy

These photos are taken to help breastfeeding mom's support each other. Breastfeeding can be very difficult, it was for me, but thanks for the support of others I've had great success. These pictures are beautiful, unless you breastfeed, it's hard to understand these sweet moments. They make me and many other breastfeeding mom's smile and give us confidence. If they bother you, don't look, it's not about you.

fave82 fave82

Ugh breastfeeding IS normal. What's NOT normal is getting a huge group of breastfeeding mom's together and doing it in public, not because your baby is hungry, but to push an agenda. These people are not normal. They are gross and give normal bfing mom's a bad name.

Leilani Parente Rogers

Like I said in my interview, disgruntled people troll these conversations and are very vocal! I find that to be NOT normal and a sad commentary on the lack of fellowship amongst women who do things differently. Apply this attitude to many other personal choices or differences, and you'd be labelled discriminatory.

nonmember avatar Abra

I applaud you Amy well said momma! But... Did you all even look at the photos? They look like normal everyday moms holding their babies minus the pumping momma if this article wasn't about breastfeeding in public I wouldn't of even noticed they were feeding their babies. They are being discreet without covers.

nonmember avatar Judge Not

@deku

I thought the exact same things.....until I actually had a baby and breastfed. Because of people like you guys, I try to ensure my baby doesn't need to be fed while out. No biggie to me (usually)...and for the first couple of months, my daughter fed just fine under a cover if we needed to...so again, like you, I didn't see why breastfeeding moms didn't just do that...but now (3-4 mths) she oscillates between HATING it and thinking it is the most fun game ever to bat at the cover, inevitably exposing us anyway and making feeding take longer...so no, it's not always THAT easy. (Kudos to you if your kids were cool with it or never need food while out. You're lucky!) Also, I get the same dirty looks with or without the cover, so we might as well be more comfortable. If my baby needs to eat, I refuse to hide in a dangerously hot/cold car (or waste gas to cool/heat it) or feed on a toilet, especially not a public one. I still try to ensure we feed in private, but you can only do so much....no one is forcing anyone to look if they're uncomfortable with it. Personally, I find gross pda not my cup of tea...so I just choose to not stare at the couple playing tonsil ping-pong with their tongues. It's really not a big deal and doesn't hurt anyone.

nonmember avatar June

Breastfeeding is great, women doing it is wonderful, and it sucks when women lose jobs, etc... because of it. But can those breastfeeding mothers please realize that it does make some uncomfortable to do it/see it? We wont look, thats fine, but when others push their agendas, or use in your face tactics, it is no longer a beautiful natural thing. I accept breastfeeding in public as a basic human right, but women, please accept that some people that arent that comfortable with it.

1-10 of 20 comments 12 Last
F