Anytime, Anywhere: Normalizing Nursing in Public.

CoverAnytimeAnywhereTHBP

Look, I get it. If you’re not used to seeing breastfeeding images, or women nursing in public, it can be strange to see. If only people understood, that is why we do this. That is why breastfeeding images are needed. The more it is seen, the less it is unknown. The more people are exposed to it, the more normal it becomes. Women don’t nurse in public for attention. We don’t share these images for praise. We share them so that the next generation of breastfeeding women will have it a little easier. If we open the eyes of even just a few people, it makes it worth it.

Why should a nursing mother feed her baby on a toilet, or in her car, yet a bottle-feeding mother feeds her baby at the dinner table? C’mon America, wake up! When your baby is hungry, you feed it. It’s as simple as that.

Look through the images. Read the women’s stories. Open your mind and heart to the idea that this is a normal, beautiful, natural thing.

If you’re a nursing Mama, go out and nurse in the world. The law is on your side. The more women who nurse in public, the more natural and accepted it becomes.

I wanted to create a series that would show how natural and normal breastfeeding is in public. I photographed these women in places where they typically nurse. The zoo, the park, while shopping, etc. Where ever you are – you can nurse!

-Natalie McCain [Photographer and Author of The Honest Body Project]

Be sure to check out my book, The Honest Body Project. It is filled with body positivity and stories from amazing women.

You can reach me at thehonestbody@gmail.com

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l8

Nursing a toddler in public is a totally different beast than nursing a baby. Toddlers are basically wild animals anyway, and discreet nursing is not always possible with them. I have gotten very good at flipping my bra back up and clipping with one hand while keeping my toddler from leaping off the seat in the restaurant with the other!”

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l9

“Nursing in public is teaching my children that it is a normal part of life. That mothers nurse their children. There is no age limit, no time frame. I am here to offer nutrition, comfort, hydration, and immunity at any time, under any circumstances. I am raising strong, confident human beings by being a role model. I will not go against what I feel is best because other people are uncomfortable. Children come first. This is our life.”

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l4

“Nursing in public is feeding your baby or child when they need to be fed. It’s not different than you eating on the go. Sometimes it’s a quick snack, sometimes it’s a nursing session. Other times it’s a comfort measure. You’re not going to wait until you get home, or find another place to nurse. To give your baby comfort, you do it right then and there. I wish there wasn’t such a stigma with it and that more women felt comfortable to do such a natural thing.”

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LNIPzoofinals (5 of 27)

“I’ve always breastfed whenever baby was hungry, although, with my first I felt more comfortable with a cover at first.  One day we were at the zoo and baby was being super fussy so I tried nursing and I was shocked when she was done because she was so red-faced and drenched with sweat.  I haven’t used a cover since. Who wants to be that uncomfortable while eating?!”

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l7

I’m sure by now most people in America have heard “you don’t like it? Don’t look!” or “How about you eat your lunch under a blanket?” as a symbolization and defense for breastfeeding in public. To me it is a given. Of course my baby has the right to nurse! Wherever we are — with or without a cover. The times I have been afraid of a nasty comment and have bristled up ready to defend myself, I have never had to. On a five hour flight with a six week old in the middle seat between two men I did not know, in restaurants, at the park, the movies, church, family gatherings and all these places moms go where I have heard horror stories from other mothers. I am always with my guard up. I nurse in public because my child is hungry, or tired or overstimulated. I nurse in public to show other moms that it is okay, you don’t have to hide if you don’t want to.”

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LNIPzoofinals (7 of 27)

Toddlers nurse for a lot of the same reasons that babies do, but also for many others. The toddler years are a time of intense emotion, rapid growth and learning, and testing of limits.  Nursing is a powerful parenting tool to connect with toddlers so that they are receptive as we work to guide them and help them make good choices. Just like a newborn’s hunger, an overstimulated toddler’s meltdown does not wait for a convenient time and place. It’s wonderful to be able to nurse to calm and comfort my toddler.”

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LNIPzoofinals (3 of 27)

Feeling confident to feed my son in public has allowed me to live my life. I’ve never had a bad experience nursing in public and I can’t imagine that some women have. Be careful with your words and looks to nursing mothers. Making them feel like they have to live locked up in their homes is wrong and unfair. No one should have to stopped living their lives because you’re uncomfortable with something so natural and right. Be kind, choose to be kind.”

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l14

“So, I have a toddler and we nurse in public. Every child develops differently. Some take longer to talk, some take longer to walk. Some wean on their own at a young age. Some suck their thumbs. Some potty train late. I honestly think, to each their own. Live and let live. Every good Mother is doing their best to do right by their kids. You don’t have to agree with everyone’s choices. But, you must know that once you are a parent, every choice can seem like the hardest choice you will ever make. My best is good enough and so is yours.” [Mother pictured on the right]

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l3

“When I’m asked to cover up, it’s embarrassing to me for the other person. How ridiculous they sound to me. How could they have the nerve to even approach me? My response is no, I won’t cover up. Please mind your business. That’s my nice version… my other response is very simple… f##k off.”

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l1“Right after we finished this shoot I took my boys to the park to play. There were two young mothers sitting at a table with their little babies and I joined them. One of the moms was nursing. I asked how old her baby was and told her I was so happy to see her nursing in public! My how times have changed in just 7 years since I had my first child! We spoke about the stigma of nursing in public and how they felt about it now that they had their own children. I shared my stories and goals and they shared theirs as well. We bonded over something as ancient as all human kind. It was a lovely conversation and so wonderful to be able to have that connection with two strangers. It is moments like these that I really can see how far we have come in normalizing breastfeeding.”

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l12

“She’s gotten very good at her technique of scooping my boob out to latch on. Sometimes it’s out before I even know it, like at the grocery store last week.”

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L1020“I am strongly supported by my friends and family for the most part. I am very passionate about nursing in public and empowering other women to feel confident in their decision to do the same. However, I recently had family members shame me on social media and I quote, “While pictures that disgust and embarrass us and our family get posted…” This is very discouraging to women who struggle with the confidence it takes to nurse in public. Shaming a nursing mother is never appropriate. This type of shaming can be extremely discouraging to a nursing mother who isn’t confident. My advice to new mothers?  Surround yourself with those who support you. Those who love you. Find your tribe and let all things fall into place. Share your breastfeeding journey in pictures and empower other women who need you. Love always wins…”

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LNIPzoofinals (17 of 27)

“I’m the oldest of 5 children, all of whom my mom breastfed.  I grew up with breastfeeding being a normal thing, something that my mother and my friends’ mothers did. Spending time with other nursing mothers at La Leche League Meetings, starting when I was pregnant with my oldest, also helped normalize breastfeeding, and spending time with nursing moms of babies of all ages gave me a  “preview” of what breastfeeding would be like as my baby got older. I never imagined when I began nursing my first newborn that I would one day be nursing a toddler, but seeing toddlers nurse, and the strong, connected relationships they had with their moms, made toddler nursing normal to me, and as my babies grew, I found that their need for nursing and for that connection to me did not suddenly end at one year and one day.”

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LNIPzoofinals (23 of 27)

“Growing up I never really saw anyone breastfeed which is why I think I felt so uncomfortable nursing my first.  It’s important that we spread awareness of normalizing breastfeeding to help others overcome some of that fear. New things can be scary, if we see more people nursing, we’ll be more comfortable with it.” [Mother pictured on the right]

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LNIPzoofinals (1 of 27)

“Taking pictures while nursing is important because it’s helping to break the stigma on it. Normalizing breastfeeding starts by talking about the statistics on why breastfeeding can benefit mom and baby. By sharing stories and getting real it shows that not everyones journey looks the same. Whether it’s the mom that uses donor milk and the supplemental nursing system, or the mother that pumps around the clock due to babies health issues and unable to latch. I didn’t grow up with breastfeeding mothers around me, but I did have a friend and my nephews mother who breastfed. So I knew about it, and once I found out I was pregnant, I did all the research I could and even joined a breastfeeding support/informational group. I learned so much and that’s what made me prepared when I found out my son’s medical issues with latching and my inability to produce enough milk due to my medical issues. I fought for it though and here we are 11 months later with no end in sight.”

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l15

“The best part is all the sweet moments we share together. Each time we stop to nurse is an opportunity to be present in the moment together – no matter how much is going on around us. It is the sweetest bond I have ever experienced.”

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l11

“There is one thing I never imagined… tandem nursing. I make enough milk for two humans. I provide a daily dose of precise nutrition for two humans. And not to mention the bond between my son and daughter. They look forward to nursing together. One will suggest to the other, “Want milkie?” And then they come have milk… and hold hands. They fight while having milk too. Pinch, push… but all while sharing the moments that will shape them as individuals.”

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l10

“My daughter turns two next month, which will mark two years of nursing. No bottles, no binky. Just my boobs, or as she calls them, “mimi’s.” It’s been a long, crazy ride, but I’m so blessed to have this amazing bond and nourish my baby for this long.”

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LNIPzoofinals (26 of 27)

“Who are you to judge how a woman chooses to feed and or raise her child?  The child is being well nourished while also helping meet it’s emotional needs.  Like the old addage says, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’”

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l13

“If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything all. Feel free to turn and face the other direction. If that doesn’t do the trick, no one is keeping you here. Feel free to leave.”

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16

“My youngest child is 17 months old, I fully planned on starting to wean him at 18 months with a goal of being done by age 2. Now that we are so close I still see him as such a little guy. He still needs mama’s milk after he gets a big boo boo. Maybe it is because he is my last baby that I am hesitant to begin weaning him.” [Mother pictured on the left]

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NIPzoofinals (9 of 27)

“One of the many benefits of nursing is that the milk is always there, at the right temperature, ready for baby to eat.  Babies don’t wear watches, and their needs for food, for comfort, and for reassurance, do not occur at regular intervals.  A hungry baby needs to eat, a sad baby needs to be comforted, a scared baby needs to be reassured, wherever they are.”

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NIPfirstset (27 of 53)

“You do not have the right to comment on my child taking the breast. You do however have the right to walk away and leave us alone.” [Mother pictured on the left]

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5

“I have only ever had one negative comment, that I have seen at least. It was from the very first nursing photo shoot I did with Natalie a few years ago. The series got picked up by a website and reposted. I read the overwhelmingly positive comments and was so impressed. Then there was one guy who called me gross. “That kid is too old to be nursing! 18 months? That’s crazy. Get that kid a cup.”  It still hurts my feelings thinking about it!”

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4

“Thankfully, Florida law gives moms the right to breastfeed anywhere they are otherwise allowed to be, covered or uncovered.  But not everyone knows that.” [Mother pictured on the left]

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“I’m a very modest person, so my first experience was very nerve-wracking. I felt like I was doing something wrong. We as mothers shouldn’t feel that way. I kept looking around, waiting for someone to give me a dirty look, or say something mean. Nobody did. To this day, I have not had any mean or rude comments. A weird look, or a double take here and there, but that’s it.” [Mother pictured at the top]

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“Keep calm and nurse on.”

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“I nurse my toddler in public when I know he needs it. I try to give him other options food wise, or distract him, until we are in a more quiet location. Simply because if his sister sees him, then she wants to nurse as well, which makes for a longer trip. But otherwise, I allow him to nurse as he wants.” [Mother pictured on the right]

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“I have been nursing for 1249 days….469 of those days I have tandem nursed.”

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“Just as I would feed myself when I am hungry, I feed my children.” [Mother pictured on the right]

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