After photos from her Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project (PABP) spread widely across the Internet last August, photographer and mom of four Leilani Rogers is continuing to normalize the sight of nursing and support lactating moms.
In honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this year, Rogers recruited over 70 photographers in the U.S., Australia, Italy, U.K., Venezuela and Canada to take pictures of moms nursing their children in public places like libraries, parks, stadiums and grocery stores. She's also invited other parents and photographers to share their own breastfeeding images on the project's Facebook page or on their own social media accounts with the hashtag #PBAP2015.
Rogers was inspired by her own experiences with breastfeeding to launch the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project in 2014, she told The Huffington Post. Though she overcame challenges with mastitis, bad latches, low supply, plugged ducts, thrush, staph infections and more, she says the one issue she was never able to face was her fear of breastfeeding in public.
"I avoided it at all costs," the mom said, explaining that she feared stares and judgment from strangers so much that she retreated to her house and made life more difficult by planning everything around each baby's feeding schedule. "I wish I could go back and tell my former self not to care so much about what other people thought. Not to be ashamed of my body. Not to be self-conscious about openly doing what nature intended."
Rogers hopes the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project will empower moms by offering the support and community she wished she had. She also believes it may help break down the struggles breastfeeding moms face, not only in nursing successfully but also in overcoming societal barriers and expectations. "Society’s support is paramount to a breastfeeding mother’s success," she said. "Mothers are hiding in their cars, restrooms, sometimes not leaving their homes at all -- because they do not want to face the kind of public scrutiny that causes someone to file a complaint with managers and store owners about a woman breastfeeding in a public place."
By encouraging other moms to participate in PBAP photo sessions or follow the project's Facebook page, she hopes they will gain the confidence to nurse in public. Rogers would also like her images to reach non-parents. "My hope is that seeing these images will help desensitize them, or even reprogram their thinking that breasts are sexual and that breastfeeding is an extension of that. It's not," she said.
"Perhaps you haven't witnessed a mother breastfeeding in public before," she continued. "You're not sure what you would do if you happened to turn the corner in the grocery store and run right into a mother juggling her life with a breastfeeding child in tow. These images also serve the purpose of positive, gentle exposure."
Keep scrolling for a sample of the beautiful images of mothers nursing their babies in public from photographers across the globe.
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