“I was going through my images from the project with my husband last year ― trying to figure out which ones to share when he pointed out that none of the images had any men in them,” Soto told The Huffington Post. “Sadly it didn’t cross my mind until he mentioned it, but I knew instantly he was right and dads needed to be included in the images going forward.”
Soto’s latest photo series showcases supportive dads in public alongside their breastfeeding partners. Each image comes with a caption about breastfeeding from the featured dad.
“A lot of people point to men being exposed to breasts as their go-to when arguing against why mothers shouldn’t breastfeed openly in public,” the photographer explained. “I hope that by focusing on the dads and sharing their thoughts, it educates those individuals that men are more than capable of seeing a mother care for her child via her breast.”
Soto believes it’s important for dads to take an active role in supporting their breastfeeding partners. “Breastfeeding mothers face a number of obstacles as it is ― supply issues, latch issues, cracked nipples, pumping issues and the list goes on,” she said. “The odds can be stacked against us as breastfeeding mothers and adding in a spouse who isn’t supportive can be detrimental to a breastfeeding relationship. Men encouraging their partners in breastfeeding ― both in the home and in public ― is a huge piece in the breastfeeding puzzle.”
“That’s not to say that women can’t successfully breastfeed without their partner’s support,” she added. “But it certainly poses unwelcome challenges when both parents are not on the same page.”
The photo shoot experience was very eye-opening for some of the dads, who had never seen the stares and pointing that breastfeeding moms often face while nursing in public.
Soto hopes her series will foster more awareness about breastfeeding among men, while also empowering moms ― something she wishes she’d had back when she was nursing her first child and feeling very lost.
“I hope that my images are able to reach mothers who, like me, don’t have experience with nursing,” she said. “I hope they encourage them in their journey and assure them that they are not alone.”
Keep scrolling to see more of Soto’s photos of dads supporting breastfeeding mamas and their thoughts on the experience.
"My wife hopes to exclusively breastfeed our son for the first year, but as a full-time working mom it's hard. I view breastfeeding as the very best nourishment for our baby, and I'm proud of my wife's commitment to do it. It'd be easy for her to give it up as its not always convenient, especially with her demanding work schedule along with pumping while away from the baby" -- Jeff
"I fully support my wife breastfeeding my daughter in public. Breastfeeding is about as natural of a human act as any, and one cannot control when or where your infant has the urge to nurse. I guess I would say that I support breastfeeding, period. If my daughter requires nourishment somewhere other than home, so be it. I have never felt uncomfortable about my wife exposing her breast in public to breastfeed because I'm too busy being proud. I'm proud of her hard work, dedication and concern for our daughter's health. I'm proud that she has persevered through 8 months of nursing, and plans to continue, for the sake of our daughter's well being... I feel comfortable around other mom's nursing too. Throughout Latin America public breastfeeding is as commonplace as seeing a baby in a stroller. I've never given it a second thought." -- Alberto
"I consider it absolutely normal. Even our pediatrician has been extremely supportive that we have breastfed our kids. To add to this, breastfeeding in public. That in itself has become a topic for discussions, sometimes heated. I believe it is a choice for mothers to do what is best for their kids. It's actually such a peaceful sight to see an infant nursing as compared to a cranky infant throwing a tantrum. My philosophy is pretty simple, don't like it... move along!" -- Kuldeep
"Like Ricky Bobby once said, 'if you don't like public breastfeeding then %!@# you!' Ignorance of others will not stop my daughter from the miraculousness of her mother's milk and God's design of delivery, it shouldn't stop any mother. It's beautiful, natural, and selfless for mothers to provide for their child, it's a bond that men will never have and we should give mothers the praise they deserve. My wife uses discretion with a cover up and most wouldn't even know a feeding is taking place, but Lord save the fool that feels it's their place to criticize or attempt to shame my wife or any woman breastfeeding in public." -- Justin
"Whether it’s caveman instinct or something that has been forced on us by the advertising companies who use breasts to sell us everything under the sun, the fact is when men see breasts in public they instinctively do a double take. However, as well as being a male I am also a husband, this means that whenever somebody ogles my wife in public I automatically get over-protective and jealous. The third and most important aspect of me is that I am a father, and as a father all that matters to me is my children’s wellbeing, so when my wife breastfeeds in public sure people will stare, and in all honesty I still get a little awkward and more aware of people around us, but that awkwardness quickly evaporates when I realize what a beautiful thing it actually is that my wife is doing. She is providing my son with the best possible start in life, and I am eternally grateful and proud of her." -- Iwan
"I don't care if my wife breastfeeds in public, and I will defend her to anyone who challenges her. Breastfeeding is incredibly difficult, and she has made some amazing sacrifices to be able to breastfeed our children. Due to our daughter's stomach issues, my wife has been on an elimination diet for over two months. That's two months and counting of no soy, gluten, eggs, dairy, citrus, alcohol, nuts, and caffeine. And with our son, she gave up dairy and caffeine while breastfeeding him for two years. I'm less worried about someone seeing her breastfeeding than I am trying to find something for her to eat. It's incredible what she has done to feed our kids, and I don't care where she does it. Our kids are thriving because of her strength and dedication. A happy FED baby is all the matters. If you don't like it, don't look!" -- Brett
"At first I was nervous about the whole idea for breastfeeding in public. I was so concerned about what people would say. But I'm glad I have a smart wife who loves to research everything and we found out that it's OK and legal to breastfeed anywhere. That made me feel much better, but what made me support her even more was that breastfeeding is the best food for babies and as a father I want the best for my baby girl." -- Jonathan S.
"When Cynthia first told me she wanted to breastfeed, I was pretty taken aback. At that point I had never really been around it. I was programmed to believe that formula was the norm, and the thought of it made me very uncomfortable. She was very adamant about doing it though, and I was not going to stand in her way. I remember one of the first times she fed in public. I remember being anxious. I remember people staring and giving looks of disapproval, including family members. I also remember my wife staring down at our newborn while she was feeding her and looking at her with such happiness and pride. At that moment, all my anxiety surrounding breastfeeding melted away. I was now an advocate for my wife and would support her any way possible through this journey. It isn't always easy for her either... I've seen ups, downs, all arounds. My job at this point is just to be as supportive as I can and reassure her that she can do it, and that she chose the right path. I'm so proud of her... I feel proud to be able to do my small part in supporting my wife, and I hope more people are able to find some clarity and see breastfeeding in a different light." -- Brandon
"I started out as one of those guys who didn't want his wife exposing herself in public thinking in my head that it is sexual, and I didn't want any man looking at my wife like that. She continued to educate me on the matter and teaching me that there is nothing wrong with nursing her child out in public, and it was still a little hard for me to watch... It finally hit me watching my daughter nurse. This is so important to her and so important to the baby I couldn't imagine being against it any longer, it's all about educating yourself! It was an absolute beautiful sight to see! Seeing the faces and words from other people was extremely hard even though my wife didn't allow it to bother her... She would just sit there and smile and continue to nurse the baby, and I always wanted to say something but she's not the type for confrontation. With our son the second time around I was fully supportive in everything breastfeeding! It's a beautiful, amazing thing that a mother can do to feed her child. " -- Hawk
"Knowing my wife nurses our 8-month-old daughter makes me proud. I enjoy knowing my daughter is being well-nourished and comforted. I feel it is only natural for a mother to breastfeed her child, and the bond between the two of them will benefit the child for the rest of their life. If a mother is in public and her child needs to eat, by all means, she has a right to feed them." -- Jeremy
"I don't really feel there is anything out of the ordinary with breastfeeding. I hate to say I support my wife for breastfeeding. That's silly. I am happy she breathes, but it's not something I support. It's natural and essential for us to breath. Breastfeeding is no different." -- Billy
"Shannon feeds our babies all the time in public and does it with ease. I'm quite comfortable for her to do this and it's quite natural in my opinion. Being the father of twins brings challenges that parents of singletons don't have and feeding is a greater challenge. Having the flexibility to feed the kids on demand versus bottle feeding is a huge advantage -- and it not only is convenient, but the health benefits are unparalleled. I think that some reason for a stigma on public breastfeeding lies in people's unfamiliarity of being a parent and the obvious relating of breasts to sexuality versus nurturing. As time goes on people's views continue to liberalize and I think and hope this concern will fade." --John
"When a woman is feeding her child, she's working... Mothers never get time off -- they are constantly meeting the demands of little ones, and when they pause to feed their child, they aren't thinking about who is looking or feeling some kind of concern about being seductive -- they are on a mission to simply and instinctively nourish their child the way God intended." -- Josiah
"I didn't really have an opinion about breastfeeding before my first child was born. My wife taught me a lot about the benefits and now I believe it's important to provide the best possible option to my children no matter where they are, home or out in public." -- Martin
"Growing up I was taught that we are made without flaw and created just as we should be. It wasn't until Megan and I had our first child that this understanding was stretched and given its full meaning. My wife was now a mother. And she, created without flaw, was made to care for our child by nursing. This idea was simple. Getting used to her nursing in public, however, was something completely different. Three kids and three Public Breastfeeding Awareness projects later, and I think this idea is finally becoming clear to me. My wife, and millions of moms just like her, are searching for something very simple: the opportunity to naturally care for their children without judgement, without discrimination, and without discomfort. A chance to be mothers just the way they are meant to be. I think it's just that simple." -- Milton (Megan's husband)