We think it’s safe to dub 2015 as the year of public breastfeeding. Maybe we’re biased because of our #Boobolution campaign, but it’s always empowering to see moms celebrating their right to nourish their children—and not letting public judgment get in their way. Look back at the images that got the world talking this year.
1. Army Moms Free The Nipple
Reporting for double duty: These women have two of the toughest jobs in the world. After Fort Bliss opened a nursing room on its El Paso, Texas, army base, photographer Tara Ruby—a former Air Force member herself—asked a few soldiers to pose for a photo to hang in the new space, intending to spotlight that women “can be amazing mothers and soldiers at the same time.” Ten new moms showed up to nurse dressed in full uniform and not surprisingly, the statement-making image quickly went viral. Ladies, we salute you!
2. A Pillar of Strength
After Sarah Whitney was diagnosed with stage-3 breast cancer while 20 weeks pregnant with baby no. 3, she quickly underwent a mastectomy on her left breast to prevent the disease from spreading. In order to fast track her cancer treatments, Whitney was induced at 36 weeks and gave birth to baby Kal-El, making that first feeding even more memorable. At the time the photo went viral, Whitney opted to stay anonymous, but six months later, decided she was ready to share her story. Although she was only able to breastfeed for two weeks before it was time to start another round of chemo, dozens of moms have rallied to donate breast milk for little Kal-El.
3. Sitting Pretty
We can always count on Alyssa Milano for a great breastfeeding photo—as well as for always championing a mother’s right to nurse (remember her Twitter outrage when Heathrow Airport confiscated her breast milk?). While prepping for The Talk in March, duty called and in an homage to Gisele’s original glam breastfeeding shot, the actress and mom of two proudly embraced the moment for her Instagram followers. And if Milano has it her way, there will be plenty more photo ops to come—she r ecently joked that she’ll keep breastfeeding Elizabella until she’s 6.
4. Bridal Sweet
An impromptu moment between best friends led to this unique photo. Bride Jaime Riddell and her three bridesmaids each welcomed babies within a year of one another. The new moms had all been casually nursing their babies while getting hair- and makeup-ready for Riddell’s big day. When they realized how awesome it was that they were all sharing in such an amazing milestone in their lives at the same time, they decided to climb into bed and let photographer Lindsay Palmer capture the special memory.
5. The Mothers of Nature
Nursing is a superpower and this photo is proof. Photographer Ivette Ivens, the same mastermind behind that breastfeeding photo in the busy Chicago street, first made headlines with this striking photo series that captures glammed-up moms breastfeeding in nature. “Every time I nurse my baby with my burp-spotted shirt on and messy hair, I still feel like some kind of superhero,” said Ivans. Want more of these gorgeous images? Ivens’ new book Breastfeeding Goddessesis now available.
6. Strike A Pose
Cincinnati’s HorrorHound Weekend isn’t a place you’d expect to see a call to action supporting breastfeeding in public, but turns out The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus is a really crowd pleaser. At the event, a conversation about boobs and babies (hey, we’re not judging!) between the fan favorite and two moms quickly morphed into a one-of-a-kind photo op while the women nursed their children and Reedus held up a peace sign and what else, a nipple-shaped ball!
7. The Great Outdoors
Baby James is taking in some good views at a young age. With a gorgeous tropical waterfront backdrop, new mom Blake Lively shared the “perks” of breastfeeding with her 5.4 million users on Instagram. And since celebrities are just like us (right?), she acknowledged that motherhood, of course, isn’t always glamorous, hashtagging the photo“#YesThatsRiceInMyHair.” Hey, we’ve all been there.
8. Saying “I Do” to Nursing in Public
Talk about committing to your vows: This wasn’t a typical wedding day pose, but it sure was an emotional one. Photographer Autumn Beury snapped this moment of family bonding at Anna and Dale’s wedding, and later shared the photo on Instagram in honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August. “I was photographing just the two of them when mama duty called,” she captioned the photo. As a mother herself, Beury knew this photo celebrating both the couple’s union and the beauty of breastfeeding was one worth capturing.
9. Hot Off The Press
When magazines set out to create a memorable cover, it’s usually the celebrity and clothes that take center stage. In this case, it was model Nicole Trunfio’s 4-month-old son who stole the spotlight on the June 2015 subscriber cover for Elle Australia. “This wasn’t a contrived situation: Zion needed a feed, Nicole gave it to him, and when we saw how beautiful they looked we simply moved her onto the set,” Elle’s editor-in-chief Justine Cullen wrote on the magazine’s website.
10. Milk Siblings Share a Meal
Wet nurses have been around for centuries, but this modern-day mom’s milk-sharing photo brought attention back to the topic across the Internet. When her friend was unable to breastfeed her 5-month-old son Mateo, Jessica Colletti, who often babysat him while watching her own 3 month old, offered to give the tot some of her own liquid gold. The photo sparked plenty of comments—both positive and negative–but Colletti remained unfazed saying, “I know I’m doing the best thing for my babies. No one could sway me or tell me otherwise.”
11. Miracle Feeding
Women often experience a range of inescapable pregnancy symptoms, but Amanda Bernier just knew hers were out of the ordinary. After experiencing muscle twitches, Bernier (who had a family history of ALS) took a genetic test and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease two weeks after finding out she was pregnant. By mid-pregnancy, when most women start feeling their baby kick, Bernier was only able to move her head. But thanks to the help of family and nurses, the first-time mom not only carried her daughter, nicknamed Peanut, to full-term, but was even able to breastfeed her from the hospital bed.
12. Baring It All
When Ashley Kaidel realized she’d attracted the judgmental stares of a nearby critic for nursing uncovered in public, this mom showed no hesitation to stare right back. While the photo was never meant to change a policy or be glamorous, it did make a bold statement. Kaidel, who happens to be a blogger for Intactalactivist Mama, shared her photo online with a caption explaining why: “I don’t post this for attention. I don’t post this because I think everyone should nurse uncovered. I post this to give mamas encouragement. To encourage others to make breastfeeding mothers feel accepted and supported; not alienated, ridiculed and judged...there’s nothing weird about this.”
13. What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas
Leave it to a Kardashian to turn breast pumps into a fashion statement. While celebrating her 36th birthday in Las Vegas, mom of three Kourtney Kardashian shared a photo of herself lounging in her room in leather pants and donning this hands-free accessory. Pumping and partying for the win!
14. The New-Dad Themed After Party
“If you ever wonder what #rappers do when they get off stage, they clean breast pumps for their wives so their baby can eat. #thuglife.” That’s how rapper George Moss captioned a post-concert selfie he snapped in the bathroom and then posted on his Facebook page. But we can bet he never imagined the post would go viral. More than 40,000 likes and hundreds of comments later, the photo earned Moss an unlikely new set of groupies: breastfeeding moms. Even better, Moss began responding to each and every comment with sweet sentiments like this: “You are the real hero for actually pumping. I’m getting too much credit for cleaning a couple bottles and suction thingies.”
15. Hitting the Road for a Worthy Cause
When this group of women posed in the middle of a busy Chicago street, they took breastfeeding in public into the fast lane. The traffic-stopping shot is the handiwork of photographer Ivette Ivens, who has made a lasting impression on social media by sharing glamorous photos like this one in the hopes of normalizing breastfeeding. “I want people to look at it as if it was a cat nursing her baby kittens. Or any other mammal, if you’re not a cat person,” she told the Huffington Post. “Forget the covering up, nursing in a public bathroom, age restrictions. It’s between a mother and her child.”