Today, public nursing, or breastfeeding, has become quite a topic of conversation, with an increasing number of mothers choosing to share their intimate nursing moments on social media, in hopes to dissipate the stigma revolved around breastfeeding in public. However, the notion of breastfeeding publicly was not always viewed with prejudice. In fact, women as early as the 19th Century have been photographed proudly nursing their babies.
By Emerald Clifford
While women at that time were modestly dressed, breastfeeding was considered a symbol of strength and femininity. It was not viewed as taboo, but rather, was widely-accepted as a way women contributed to the sustainability of their families.
In the images seen below, taken over 100 years ago, these Victorian mothers confidently document their intimate nursing moments with their little ones:
We can relate to this mother, who knows what it’s like to balance the attention of two children.
With her hair eloquently pulled back, this composed mother ensures that her baby is getting fed.
Getting some fresh air, this mother is choosing to nurse her sweet baby outdoors.
We can all relate to this mother, who struggles to ensure her baby is nursing comfortably.
Wearing matching bonnets, this mother and her baby share a tender moment.
Enjoying the light of an early morning feeding, this mother shares an intimate moment with her baby.
Dressed to the nines, this mother is both multitasking and fashionable.
Contently, this mother attends to her hungry baby.
With a concentrated stare, this mother remains focused while nursing.
These images demonstrate the longevity and lack of stigma associated with public nursing. They emphasize that, although people’s opinions on breastfeeding have fluctuated through the centuries, it is important to remember that motherhood is an individual journey, with no single, defined path. Women should feel empowered, not ashamed, for feeding their children, in whatever way they choose.
For mothers who choose to breastfeed publicly or privately, choose formulas or breast milk, or anything in between, remember that you decide was is best for you and your baby.