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Friends and Family Shaming Breastfeeding

It's Time to Talk About the Worst Kind of Breastfeeding Shaming Moms Experience

The Shame of the Nursing Mother

When I asked local mothers to share stories of them being shamed by family and friends as nursing mothers the responses flew in. It became obvious to me that we cannot address public breastfeeding until we address those planting the seeds of shame.

Posted by Megan Soto Photography on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Just like many mothers, Megan Soto has been shamed for breastfeeding, but the mom of three has used her experience to fuel a powerful, eye-opening project. Megan, a photographer, asked mothers in the Saint Augustine, FL, area to share their own stories of times when friends and family members openly shamed them for nursing. She told the Huffington Post that 54 local moms responded to her inquiry, sharing horrible tales of being told off by the people they are closest to, which Megan used for her video project, "The Shame of the Nursing Mother." "Hopefully this gives some perspective in terms of the isolation that breastfeeding mothers face,"she said. "I hope that it encourages people to be more inclusive both among their loved ones and among strangers. With this video I wanted to shine a light on how asking mothers hide while breastfeeding really looks and feels."

The clip features powerful statements from nursing moms, and it's terribly sad. One woman explained her aunt told her she was only allowed to come to Thanksgiving dinner if she did not nurse her son in front of others, because it is "pornographic." Another woman said her brother stopped her nephew from entering the room where she was nursing, saying, "Don't look at that — it'll burn your eyes."

Megan's video brings up a serious issue with breastfeed shaming: While we hear plenty of stories about moms being publicly shamed by strangers, it's the stories about our loved ones doing the shaming that hurt the most. The video ends with Megan writing, "No one ever asked me to miss out of life when I was formula feeding. Breastfeeding mothers deserve the same respect."

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