It’s not easy, and it’s not always embraced by those around us. But these powerful, beautiful, sometimes raw images of women breastfeeding their babies are proof of the strength, determination and love that moms from across the country have for their newborns. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite breastfeeding pictures from across the Internet and around the world.
The Breastfeeding Bride
This beautiful bride took the to-have-and-to-hold part of her wedding vows to a whole new level as she nursed her new baby boy mid-ceremony. The photographer was initially hesitant to share the breastfeeding pic, but ultimately decided to go for it, writing, “I was pretty sure people would find it as beautiful as I did.”
Breastfeeding to Shatter Stereotypes
As many moms know all too well, nursing doesn’t come easy to every baby. That can be especially true for babies with Down syndrome, whose poor muscle tone may interfere with a good latch. But that doesn’t mean those infants can’t breastfeed—which this group of women breastfeeding babies with Down syndrome set out to show.
Shutting Down the Shamers
Christian Serratos, who plays the butt-kicking, zombie-destroying Rosita in The Walking Dead, took to Instagram to put breastfeeding-shamers in their place. “This is my body and my page. So I will post what I want, when I want. Those who disapprove can suck my left tit,” she writes. With well over 200,000 likes, it looks a lot of people are cheering her on.
When Maya Vorderstrasse shared this photo on Instagram, she was floored by the response of over 11,000 likes. Here, she’s feeding her older daughter Zoey with a bottle and baby daughter Hazel with her breast. She writes about her struggle to nurse both at the same time. “Feeding them is beautiful,” she says. “I don't know about your journey, but I can tell you that whatever your choice or circumstance, don't ever feel guilty or like you are inadequate. Ever. Just love them and do the best you can. You're a rockstar. No. Matter. What. Whatever your feeding routine consists of, it is hard being a mother, so let's show support for each other! To me, fed is best.”
A Burn Survivor Persists
Burn survivor Schamica “Mimi” Stevenson opened up about her breastfeeding struggles to the Facebook group Black Women Do Breastfeed. She had tried to nurse her firstborn and stopped. But here she is with baby No. 2, persisting. She explains that breastfeeding still has it’s challenges, but that she was feeling good. “I feel lucky to still have nipples,” she writes. “So I’m going to continue to breastfeed and hope my story helps someone else.”
Extended Breastfeeding Pride
In honor of National Breastfeeding month, photographer Abbie Fox gathered a group of moms who continue to breastfeed their children past infancy. The result? This lovely picture of women breastfeeding and the note she posted on Facebook: “No matter if you nurse for a few days or a few years, there should never be any judgements against moms that are just doing their best to keep their kiddos healthy,” she writes.
Breastfeeding in the Great Outdoors
Jinti Fell travels Australia by way of a camper van with her husband and baby daughter, Ayana. On the topic of breastfeeding, she offers up this heartening message: “Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up.” And with over 11,000 Instagram likes, it’s clearly a sentiment that’s resonating with others.
Breastfeeding With Cancer
A day before breast cancer patient DeShonjla “Shonni” Peterson was scheduled to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, she changed her mind. Instead of having both breasts removed, she opted to keep one. The reason: Shonni had just learned that she was carrying her second child and she wanted to nurse her. Here she is, breastfeeding newborn Zoë.
Nursing and Primping for The Big Day
“When you’re getting ready to get married, life with your beautiful children doesn’t stop,” writes wedding photographer Jonny Draper. He captured this touching moment between UK mom and bride, Beth Martin, and her baby boy, George.
What No Breastfeeding Mom Wants to Hear
Women breastfeeding in public are constantly subjected to stares, dirty looks and other people’s opinions—and photographer and mom Nicki Kaylor was sick of it. So she gathered together some East Tennessee moms and asked them to write down what people have said to them while they’ve nursed. Here’s one of the many ensuing breastfeeding pictures, featuring Erin Peabody, her baby boy and the unwanted “you should use a blanket” advice that she’s tired of hearing.
Lucifer Star Stands Strong
Lesley-Ann Brandt, a proud new mama and star of the TV show Lucifer, shared this sweet shot of her breastfeeding her son on Instagram, writing, “This is motherhood. Needing to pee so badly but you just rocked the perfect latch and Bebe is nuzzled in nicely for a good feed. Priorities people. Priorities.” The breastfeeding pic garnered over 21,000 likes, but some critics just couldn’t resist chiming in. Brandt fired back: “The irony is that these same men and sadly women are all but fine to see these boobs in my work (Spartacus) but breastfeeding my son? How dare I!"
A Breastfeeding Convert
Jenny Tamas didn’t see women breastfeeding when she was growing up. In fact, she used to frown upon the practice. “I was filled with ignorance and judgments. I used to believe breastfeeding moms did it for attention,” she writes on Instagram. Then she had her baby Lilly, and everything changed. Tamas now proudly nurses and openly shares her breastfeeding pictures. “It’s my apology to all women,” she writes, explaining that she wants to help others unlearn that breasts are for men. “I am so damn proud of myself that I am a part of normalizing something that was not normal for me growing up.”
A Thank-You Note to Black Breastfeeders
To honor the milestone of exclusively breastfeeding for twenty-four weeks—and the start Black Breastfeeding Week—Phylicia Sadsarin shared this precious breastfeeding photo along with a thank-you note to other black women breastfeeding. “To the mamas out there who are on this journey with me, I want to say thank you for helping to bridge the gap,” she says. “Thank you for sharing your struggles and your successes. Thank you to all of the Black lactation consultants out there!... And thank you to all of the mamas-to-be who want to breastfeed: We are here to support you. There is a village and we welcome you with open arms.”
Mother of two and photographer Ivette Ivens loves taking breastfeeding pictures. In fact, she has a book called Breastfeeding Goddesses. While the breastfeeding pictures in it are decidedly ethereal, this one—recently shared on Instagram—is simple and real, and just as lovely.
Anna Whitehouse, the mom of two behind the Instagram handle Mother_Pukka, is nothing if not honest. “We are all still hanging together by a frazzled thread,” she writes. And she’s not alone—this post garnered words of encouragement and camaraderie, like “very familiar scene!” and “I absolutely remember those days of feeling overwhelmed.”
When the Going Gets Tough
There are plenty of breastfeeding pictures that capture the beauty and joy of the moment. But this is the face of a breastfeeding mom who’s pushing through to provide for her baby. “Ok, I'm going to say it for us all. Breastfeeding is hard. It's really, really hard. ...The uncertainty, second guessing, responsibility, commitment, discomfort, just to name a few,” she writes on Instagram. “Mamas really do need all the support they can get. So mama, you're hearing it from me, you're not going crazy, it is hard, but you're doing good. Keep going!! There's a rumor going around that it gets easier."
First Moments With Baby
That initial breastfeeding session can be intimidating for any new mom, but this mama looks positively serene nursing her very first baby from her hospital bed.
Nothing beats having your mom by your side to cheer you on—especially when you’re providing for a daughter of your own. This gorgeous shot of three generations was shared on Instagram with an important message: “Supporting and loving future generations is the most important thing we can do.”
Braving it Alone
This sweet moment of mom breastfeeding was captured shortly after she’d given birth to her first baby via c-section—and she did it on her own. Her spouse was deployed at the time, and her photographer was the only person with her during delivery.
Hat Tip to Tandem Breastfeeding
"No I didn’t have a crazy amount of milk produced. I produced just enough to feed both of them. If they needed more, my body produced more," this mom posted to Instagram. "[Soon] I will celebrate 3 years breastfeeding nonstop. I think the longest I have lasted is about 20 hours without feeding."
The Last Nursing Session
"The last photo taken of me breastfeeding Ellamie," this mama shared on Instagram. "I was fortunate enough to feed her from my body for 18 months, which I am so SO very grateful for because I’ve now seen how hard it is for some mamas to even start breastfeeding and have the right support and education to continue."
Mom's Brave Response to Being Shamed
Kelly Stanley of Johnson City, Tennessee, struggled to breastfeed her daughter when she was born. Baby Maya was diagnosed with a severe tongue and lip tie that made latching difficult, but thanks to an operation, Maya became able to breastfeed—a "massive accomplishment" for both mom and baby. Yet when the first-time mom went to nurse her baby while out to dinner with her parents, her father grabbed a cloth and shoved it at her, telling her to cover up. Her brave response to being "humiliated" and "shamed" was to post this powerful image on Instagram.
Chinese Mothers Raise Breastfeeding Awareness
Nearly a hundred young mothers participated in a nurse-in in Xiangyang, China with the goal of raising awareness about breastfeeding, advocating for the establishment of maternal and infant rooms in public places and creating a loving social atmosphere for both babies and mothers.
British Breastfeeding Mum Speaks Out
"In the U.K., just 1% of mums exclusively breastfeed. That is one of the lowest rates worldwide," this British breastfeeding mom says in an Instagram post. "There is a lack of support in the U.K. to support mums with their breastfeeding journeys. My own experiences have been really up and down, with government cutting funding to breastfeeding support groups. Luckily there is a great bunch of mums online supporting mums who choose to breastfeed exclusively."
Drowning Out Shameful Stares
“India used to be a breastfeeding friendly nation. Our scriptures symbolize a mother’s breast as pitcher full of nectar. Somewhere along the lines of modernisation and struggling with our own social and cultural hindrances, breastfeeding got surrounded by misinformation and moral policing," this breastfeeding mom says. "I have come to realise that just like Mumbai’s monsoons, a baby’s cry to be fed is unpredictable. Would you rather hide or let your baby cry? I prefer to take a deep breath, look into my baby’s eyes and let the the downpour drown out any shameful comments or stares...I am certain that we Indian mothers can regain our lost confidence in breastfeeding by prioritising our babies above everything else.”
Feeding on a Float
Breastfeeding can happen anywhere: In your favorite armchair, at a restaurant, on a park bench, even, in the case of this mama, on a swan float in your backyard pool. It's a go-to nursing spot for this Australian mom, who says her daughter just loves it.
Giving Breastfeeding a Boost in Qatar
A 2012 government survey found that only 29 percent of mothers exclusively breastfeed in Qatar during the first six months of baby’s life. Globally, the average is 37 percent. "I started the project with the aim to raise positive awareness about breastfeeding," says the Qatar-based photographer who captured this moment. "I had several different breastfeeding meet-ups that helped women discuss their experiences and talk about breastfeeding."