You’ve heard that saying ‘breast is the best’. But, does everyone feel that way? Even though there’s no debating the benefits of breastfeeding, nursing mums aren’t always readily accepted by everyone.
Let’s put a qualifier on the statement, shall we?
Breastfeeding mums aren’t always readily accepted by everyone if they nurse in public. That’s where Sarah Anne Murnane stepped in.
Photographer Sarah Anne believes in the beauty of breastfeeding.
“I want every breastfeeding mother to be able to see the beauty I see when they are nourishing their child. I want them to have this moment and their bond preserved in time forever.”
And hence, the Australian Breastfeeding Project was born. Created to bring awareness of the beauty in breastfeeding to the public, it seeks to promote the health benefits while getting rid of the stigma that all too often comes with nursing in public places.
Women who feel perfectly comfortable nursing at home often feel equally as uncomfortable doing the same simple action in a public place. Whipping out a bottle and putting it in baby’s mouth isn’t exactly frowned upon in public spaces. On the other hand, taking out a breast and feeding baby often is. Wait – don’t babies have to eat? And how exactly are breastfed babies supposed to get this nourishment if mum feels shameful nursing out in the open? Should baby keep quiet and go without a meal? Should mum skulk in a dim corner covered by a screen or a sheet? Absolutely not! And, that’s exactly what Sarah Anne and the Australian Breastfeeding project seeks to stop.
The photographer started photographing mums and their nursing babies. She featured 20 mums dressed in white, nursing their children. The Breamlea beach photos started a movement that Sarah Anne hopes will normalise nursing and help the public to accept breastfeeding as a beautiful part of life.
Capitalising on social media, the photographer hopes that the more people see these pictures, the more they’ll accept this very natural action. Instead of looking at mum and her breast as inappropriate or shameful, the project seeks to make breastfeeding a normal part of everyday life – helping people to see it as an act of nourishment and bonding.
Not only does the photographer hope that the photos show the world the benefits of breastfeeding (and decrease the shame factor to a big old zero), but she also notes that the images can also help to educate the public on the struggle that many women have.
Sure, nursing is one of the most natural acts that many of us can think of. Your new mummy cat does it with ease (and feeds her brood of five or six), but for us humans it doesn’t always go so smoothly. Breastfeeding can challenge some women, making them want to stop before they really even get started. The heart-felt photos strike out the shame and help mums (and everyone for that matter) to see it can happen. With proper education and support, mums who struggle can overcome their obstacles and nurse naturally.
If you’re thinking, “Wow. What beautiful photos, too bad it ends there, on the beach,” think again. The project rolls on. Sarah Anne hopes to travel to as many towns and states as she can. On the project’s website she notes that she’ll travel to places where there are at least 30 to 45 women willing to participate.
In some cases – if there isn’t much travel involved – she may go to a town that only has 15 women interested. All women are asked to wear white. Likewise all mums are asked to dress their babies in white (or have them go nude). Why? The white represents the purity that she wants to display in the photos.
Being scared to breastfeed in public isn’t something that any woman should have to endure. That said, many mums do. Fear of sideways glances, stares, whispers and cruel words shame mothers who are doing nothing more than what comes naturally to them. There’s no indecency here. The mums aren’t putting their breasts on display and they aren’t portraying themselves as pornographic. It’s the very opposite.