Breastfeeding in Real Life: The Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project

Photography: Ashley Marston Birth Photography

By Hannah Schenker

#NormaliseBreastfeeding is a thing because in some parts of the world, women are still getting hassled for feeding their babies. In 2017. Nevermind that this is how babies have been fed since the beginning of time! Mothers get hassled for feeding their babies too long…in public…at all. We like to think that here in New Zealand, breastfeeding mothers receive more support than in other countries – but that is not the case for everyone and there is still plenty of room for improvement. Which is why, whenever we see projects that aim to break down those stigmas even further, we want to share them with the world!

Introducing: The Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project, started by photographer Leilani Rogers, who is passionate about women being able to comfortable breastfeed their child in public (and anywhere!).

Leilani Rogers is a mama, a wife, a lover of the outdoors and baking and parties. She is also a birth and breastfeeding photographer in Austin, Texas, USA. Her idea for the project initially stemmed from her own insecurities about breastfeeding in public – something that many women feel. Breastfeeding in public should be as normal as shopping at the supermarket, or having lunch at a cafe, or walking the dog. But for many women, breastfeeding openly and normally as they go about their day can result in unwanted comments and looks that make them feel uncomfortable. With projects like this, the idea is that the more you see something, the more natural and normal it becomes.

The PBAP started as a solo project back in 2013, which was so well received that Rogers extended an invitation to a whole group of photographers around the world, who now all document mothers nursing in public spaces. There are photographers in the U.K., Australia, Mexico, Venezuela, Germany and  Italy.

Rogers’ own breastfeeding journey was, like for many mothers, not all straightforward and simple. Having breastfed all of her four children, the longest being for 18 months, she of course encountered difficulties along the way.

“My experience with breastfeeding ran the gamut. I had long-term difficulties with some of my kids (cracked/bleeding nipples, thrush, clogged ducts, mastitis) which caused them to wean early, and longer more blissful journeys with others,” she says. “But with all of them, I felt insecure about breastfeeding in public. For one thing, I never saw it. So I felt like I was in the minority of women, especially with my older nurslings. But also, I was regularly alienated by family members whenever it came time to feed my children. At the time, I just accepted it. As I became more involved in the birth community, I realized how wrong it was that I had felt so ashamed. I had wanted to breastfeed longer with my younger children, but looking back, the limitations placed on me undoubtedly affected those breastfeeding goals.”

We agree that no mother should feel ashamed about breastfeeding her child, whether they are a few weeks old or a few years. Mothers should be celebrated and supported to continue their breastfeeding journey as long as works for them and their children, and it’s nobodies business but theirs.

Scroll on to see some of their beautiful photographs and please share the love!

See page 2 for more beautiful photos…

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