Powerful Video Calls Out the 1 Kind of Breastfeeding Shame We Don't Talk About

breastfeeding shame
Megan Soto Photography/Facebook

When I became a mom, I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a try, but I was also worried because I'd heard about the public shaming that usually accompanies that decision. Thankfully, nursing my sons (now 3 and 1½) outside the home wasn't super unpleasant. But, thinking back on my experiences as a breastfeeding mom and how mentally prepared I was to receive criticism, I recall there's one area of my life where breastfeeding shaming occurred that was so unexpected: among family members, the very people I love and confide in. Sadly, judgments about breastfeeding can come from loved ones. That's why Megan Soto's video project, The Shame of the Nursing Mother, is a must-see reminder of a form of judgment and shaming we rarely talk about.


Once shunned for breastfeeding at a family gathering, Soto, a photographer and mom of three, put out the call for other moms to share similar stories about friends or family member that shamed them for breastfeeding. Nearly 55 moms responded, and Soto turned their experiences into a video collection that is thought-provoking and quite emotional to watch.

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What's so powerful about Soto's video -- aside from these courageous women giving a voice to the shaming that happens so often among family and friends -- is this mom's ability to draw parallels between the way nursing moms feel forced to feed their children inside bathroom stalls or in cars to avoid being shamed by strangers, and how feeling that same discomfort around trusted family and friends can make nursing that much harder.

That moms feel as uneasy nursing in front of people they love as they would doing it in front of strangers only proves how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding.

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Sadly, every breastfeeding mother who participated in this project felt harsh criticism from a loved one -- including:

A mom whose brother shamed her in front of her nephew for nursing her child.

Megan Soto created
Megan Soto Photography/Facebook

A mom who says her husband agreed to circumcise their son … as long as she didn't breastfeed.

More from CafeMom: 10 Ways to Say 'I'm Sorry for Breastfeeding in Public' (Not)

Megan Soto created
Megan Soto Photography/Facebook

A mother who reveals a coworker threw a blanket over her while breastfeeding during a breast cancer event.

Megan Soto created
Megan Soto Photography/Facebook

And a mom who says she was told not to nurse around her family ... even though the person who said it "supports" breastfeeding.

More from CafeMom: Mom Shares a Powerful Message to All Mothers Afraid of Public Breastfeeding

Megan Soto created
Megan Soto Photography/Facebook

Watching this video made me think back to my breastfeeding days and remember how much the "feedback" I received from certain family members hurt.

While I'm thankful for my husband and parents being supportive of my decision and desire to nurse my kids (my dad was SUPER proud of me in such an awesomely dorky way), I also had close female relatives who would either rush to get a blanket for me to use to cover up (I always brought my own, but they beat me to it), or "kindly" ask time and time again why I was still breastfeeding my sons past 6 months, because "it wasn't necessary."

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In a way, it's easier to deal with some mean-spirited, anti-breastfeeding prick you'll likely never run into ever again. Sure, said prick might hurt your feelings in the moment, but eventually, you'll move on. With family and friends, it's a different story, as you often confide and cling to your loved ones for acceptance and support.

Hopefully, we can get to the day where the sight of a woman nursing her child is no more outrageous than a person breathing air. Melissa Soto tells the Huffington Post, "I hope that this encourages people to be more inclusive both among their loved ones and among strangers."

You and me both, sister. You and me both.

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Here's Soto's amazing video, The Shame of the Nursing Mother.

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