CircleBumpCheckedFilledMedicalBookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxCheckBoxFilled

Photographer Documents What Breastfeeding Really Looks Like

What does breastfeeding look like? It's a question photographer Suzie Blake wanted to answer honestly. It's also the name of her new photo documentary project. Meet the women who let Blake into such an intimate moment with baby, even when it's anything but glamorous.
save article
profile picture of Anisa Arsenault
By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated March 2, 2017
Hero Image
Image: Suzie Blake

Sometimes celebrities like Alyssa Milano glam up to breastfeed. And sometimes nursing moms are transformed into goddesses. Both scenarios have their place, but Suzie Blake wants to offer another, more honest depiction of nursing. Enter her new project: What Does Breastfeeding Look Like?

“I think it’s great that women like Gisele Bündchen are being public about breastfeeding, but we mere mortals, we need to have a space to express what breastfeeding’s like for us.” Blake tells The Bump.

The Melbourne, Australia, artist and photographer decided she was tired of all the picture-perfect, stock-like depictions of breastfeeding.

“One of the reasons women don’t take up or continue breastfeeding is because they have never seen another woman breastfeeding. I’m all for celebrities and the media advocating breastfeeding, but an airbrushed photoshopped image of a woman breastfeeding is not realistic and it just presents another challenge for women who may be trying to breastfeed,” she writes in a description of her project. “They’re going to think ‘I don’t look like her,’ which is unhelpful. Women who are trying to breastfeed need to see images and think ‘I can identify with that.’”

So Blake took a self portrait while nursing her son Xavier. It was raw, it was real and it was beautiful.

She called out to other moms on Facebook, asking if they’d like to participate in a similar shoot. The response was overwhelming.

“Basically, I ask people where they breastfeed most of the time,” Blake says. “For most people it’s at home. It may seem mundane, but that’s reality; most of their breastfeeding experience is on a sofa or bed.”

Still, some of the sessions stand out.

“What is often quite funny is when you’ve got a toddler running around while mom’s breast-feeding; it adds a layer of humor,” she says, remembering a particular shoot where a not-quite-potty-trained toddler relieved himself while mom was nursing her baby nearby.

Related Video

So far, the project has been a local one. And Blake says the Melbourne moms who participate share similar reasons for getting in front of the camera.

“Most of them are doing it because they’ve had an initially difficult experience, and having a photograph of them breastfeeding is empowering,” Blake says. “Many of the women I’ve shot have overcome difficulties in their breastfeeding experiences and have arrived at a place of fulfillment.”

Others, on their second or third child, want to document their confidence.

Regardless, the goal is always the same: “portraying breastfeeding in all its beautiful messiness.”

“I’ve had some women see the photo that I chose who are quite confronted about how they don’t look good,” Blake says. “But exposing yourself not looking perfect is what this project is all about. You don’t look Photoshopped because you’re a normal human being.”

The next step in her project? Photographing moms in the UK. From there, it’s onto other parts of Europe, and then the US. How far What Breastfeeding Really Looks Like goes depends on the success of her IndieGoGo fundraising campaign.

“I’m focusing on western countries initially,” Blake says. They are specifically the countries that have the lowest breastfeeding rates which is quite ironic, because we have the most education. It’s a social issue affecting the west."

Check out some of the project’s photos below.

save article
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

mom sitting with baby outside of home on summer day
Summer Babies Can Come With Some Serious FOMO, Mom Explains
By Wyndi Kappes
hilary duff struggles with balancing time with newborn and other kids
Hilary Duff on Balancing Time With a Newborn and Older Kids
By Wyndi Kappes
gerber baby 2024 sonny mcleod
Meet 2024 Gerber Baby and Chief Growing Officer Akil "Sonny" McLeod
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
mother and father cuddling newborn baby in hospital bed after labor and delivery
40 Amazing Push Present Ideas to Make a New Mom Feel Loved
By Martina Garvey
chrissy teigen speaking at the aura digital parenthood summit event
Why Chrissy Teigen Believes in Sharing Messy Parenting Moments Online
By Wyndi Kappes
nate burleson and family
Nate Burleson on His Ideal Father’s Day and Parenting Philosophy
By Wyndi Kappes
mom disciplining toddler at home
Moms Share Parenting Things They’re ‘Done With’ in Viral Video
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
mom and dad walking with baby stroller through park
These Are the Best US Cities to Raise a Family in 2024, Study Says
By Wyndi Kappes
Busy Phillips on the TODAY show Wednesday, May 1, 2024
Busy Philipps Says Her ADHD Treatment Has Helped Her Be a Better Mom
By Wyndi Kappes
allison kuch and baby at home
Allison Kuch Spills Her Parenting Secrets and Plans to Grow Her Family
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
dad kissing baby at home
The Best Gifts for New Dads to Suit Any Budget
By Emma O'Regan-Reidy
toddler putting toys away
Psychologist’s Hack for Getting Your Kids to Help Around the House
By Wyndi Kappes
Advertisement
grandparents helping mom and dad in the kitchen with new baby
Parents Get Real: What Is (and Isn’t) Helpful When Welcoming Baby
By Anna Davies
ADVERTISEMENT
woman taking a five dollar bill out of wallet
Mom Asks First Birthday Guests to Bring $5 for Remodel Instead of Gift
By Wyndi Kappes
mother reading a book with 3 children at home
Mom Warns Parents the 2 to 3 Kid Transition Is No Joke in Viral TikTok
By Wyndi Kappes
Jennifer Garner attends the Los Angeles premiere of Netflix's "Family Switch" at AMC The Grove 14 on November 29, 2023 in Los Angeles, California
The One Thing Jennifer Garner Asks for Every Mother’s Day
By Wyndi Kappes
grandpa and grandma holding baby
These Are the Most Popular Nicknames for Grandparents in the US
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
baby standing next to stroller in front of the eiffel towel in paris france
These Are the Best Cities in the World to Raise a Family, Report Says
By Wyndi Kappes
Paris hilton and husband
Paris Hilton Shares a First Look at Her Family of Four
By Wyndi Kappes
parents talking to sad child
Study Reveals the Negative Words Parents Use and How They Affect Kids
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List