Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always embraced by those around us. But it is an incredibly natural and rewarding experience, regardless of where you come from or where you live—a sentiment photographer Tina Boyadjieva brilliantly captures in her photos of breastfeeding mothers around the world.
In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month this August, Boyadjieva and Lansinoh teamed up to showcase and celebrate what breastfeeding looks like across the globe. “We wanted to show how normal it is, and that mothers of all backgrounds, religions, colors and financial status share the same joys and struggles with it,” Boyadjieva says. “Cultures and circumstances of life around the world may be different, but breastfeeding feels so universal at its core.”
The Bulgaria native traveled to 18 countries (including the US) to document women’s breastfeeding experiences and took note of the differences she encountered. “I saw all kinds of angles and styles of breastfeeding I had never thought possible before—on the floor, with the child standing and Mom on her knees, with Mom standing, etc.” she says.
In many of the developing nations she visited, moms carry their babies with them as they go about their daily activities and breastfeed because it’s simply the only way to give their children the nutrients they need. “In such places, the main concern for the mother was for her to stay healthy so she can continue to breastfeed,” Boyadjieva explains. In contrast, moms in countries with advanced economies struggled to continue breastfeeding even after they returned to work and had to leave their babies in someone else’s care.
And yet, despite those differences, Boyadjieva was most struck by the similarities she witnessed that transcended cultural and geographic boundaries. “Across the board, each mom loved the experience of breastfeeding because it brings life to her child, and because it’s healthy, safe and nutritious,” she says. “Every mom spoke about the incredible bond between her and her child during the process of breastfeeding. Even those who had encountered pain and troubles in the beginning were firm that it was all worthwhile.”
Take a peek at what breastfeeding looks like around the world, from the vantage point of Boyadjieva’s lens.