On May 26, Amber Bowers graduated from Clary Sage College for massage therapy. The Oklahoma native and mother of three has been breastfeeding her daughter Luna, who was born in March, and almost skipped the ceremony to avoid having to find an alternative. Instead, she got permission from the college to bring her daughter to the ceremony. Bowers shared her graduation experience with the online community Breastfeeding Mama Talk and said she began nursing Luna backstage in her cap and gown before the ceremony began.
"I didn't feel like I was doing anything out of the norm, but as I was walking around backstage before the ceremony I started to get compliments as well as eye rolls from people who saw me nursing Luna," she told Breastfeeding Mama Talk. "Right before I was heading to the main floor, a few women were gushing over the sight of me nursing her and snapped a photo of me. I didn't really think anything of it and just enjoyed Luna's snuggles as I watched the ceremony begin."
Bowers told The Huffington Post she breastfed Luna for the entire ceremony, but because she wasn't allowed to take her onto the floor she walked across the stage alone and then returned to her daughter. She learned during the ceremony that the photo of her breastfeeding was posted online and soon received comments and messages applauding her as a mother and as a graduate.
"I have gotten so many amazing and supportive messages with such beautiful words," she said. "My heart is so full and I am beaming with joy at the women and men who are sharing their stories and kind words with me."
Bowers told HuffPost that she is grateful for the positive community that reached out to her, especially considering the many moms who have dealt with the stigma surrounding breastfeeding in public.
"That's what it's all about! Uplifting and supporting one another," she said. "It's a shame that so many women are made to feel uncomfortable doing what is natural."