This year, Soto channeled her struggles into a creative project. On March 15, she posted a powerful video called “The Shame of the Nursing Mother.”
“After being shut out of holiday dinners because of my breastfeeding, I asked nursing moms in my town to share with me instances when their families made them feel bad for breastfeeding,” Soto told The Huffington Post.
Fifty-four moms responded to the callout and shared the hurtful things they heard from their loved ones. The photographer compiled a handful of those responses to make the video, which reached over 23,000 views on Facebook.
“Hopefully this gives some perspective in terms of the isolation that breastfeeding mothers face,” Soto told HuffPost. “I hope that it encourages people to be more inclusive both among their loved ones and among strangers. With this video I wanted to shine a light on how asking mothers hide while breastfeeding really looks and feels.”
Soto wants to emphasize that she does not believe breastfeeding is necessarily the best choice for every family. “While there are many factors in why mothers don’t breastfeed, I don’t think fear of being shamed by society, or directed shame from their family, should be on that list,” she explained. “I believe that people who chose to feed their offspring at their breast deserve the same respect as if they were feeding their child any other way.”
As the video captioning notes at the end, “No one ever asked me to miss out of life when I was formula feeding. Breastfeeding mothers deserve the same respect.”