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Breastfeeding is certainly one of the most effective ways to keep your child healthy. In fact, breastmilk is not only the ideal food for infants but the antibodies present in it can ward off common childhood illnesses. However, breastfeeding in public is often contested and there’s always a discussion around it. Mothers are called “provocative” if they breastfeed openly and if they use formula, they are considered “bad mothers”.
Due to the stigma associated with it, combined with a lack of societal support, lactating mothers and caregivers are often in a dilemma. To break that stereotype, several celebrities across the globe have been sharing their breastfeeding photos on social media platforms in order to assert the correct way female breasts should be perceived in public.
Aditionally, the idea behind normalizing breastfeeding is that women cannot be accused of indecent exposure if their child needs attention or care beyond the privacy of the indoors.
In India, Bollywood actresses such as Neha Dhupia, Lisa Haydon, Kareena Kapoor Khan among others have always been vocal about breastfeeding their kids.
Neha Dhupia has often talked about breastfeeding in public and is the brain behind the ‘Freedom to Feed’ campaign, which brings together a community of parents to have conversations around breastfeeding in order to destigmatize it.
Kareena, too, has time and again emphasized on the importance of breastmilk. She mentioned in a blog, “We need to feed our newborn babies in the best way that we can: with our breast milk. To give your baby the best start in life that he or she deserves, start breastfeeding within the first hour of life – and feed the baby only breast milk, nothing else.”
Queen actress Lisa Haydon is often seen sharing pictures from her motherhood journey. During the World Breastfeeding Week 2021, she shared her breastfeeding photo with her son Zack. In fact, when he was born, Haydon has shared in a post, “Breastfeeding has been challenging+time consuming (literally hours spent every day trying to stimulate milk supply), but it’s such a beautiful way to bond and connect with your child plus all the nutritional benefits that your child gets from your milk.”
Similarly, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani actress Evelyn Sharma shared a photo of herself breastfeeding her baby girl Ava on Christmas last year.
Sharing what inspired her to share her breastfeeding journey on social media, Sharma told Health Shots, “I wanted to share my personal journey of motherhood with my friends and fans, just like I have shared all the highlights and milestones of my life on social media so far.” She, in fact, feels it’s great that most mothers are now normalizing breastfeeding rather than giving way to the society that tends to sexualise it. “It’s up to every mom to choose their own journey. Some women may be more open and some less.”
Towards the western world too, several known faces including Gwen Stefani, Pink, Natalia Vodianova, Alanis Morissette, Hillary Duff, and Teresa Palmer among others, have been posting their intimate breastfeeding pictures to celebrate the caregiving nature of mothers.
Recently, American model and TV presenter Ashley Graham shared a super-mom photo of herself as she tandem breastfed her twin sons, Malachi Ervin and Roman Ervin. She captioned it as, “double fisting (peep the wacky tan lines).”
However, these posts don’t always go well with social media users, who often term breastfeeding as a “private moment.”
Remember, in August 2021, when the film poster image of Penélope Cruz’s new film Parallel Mothers was taken down by Instagram’s algorithm as it depicted a lactating nipple? It created a social media frenzy and the film got huge support from the fans.
Clearly, the image was not provocative in a sexual way and Instagram later ended up restoring the image and claimed to be “sorry about any confusion caused.”
Reacting to such social media trolling of motherhood and breastfeeding, Sharma said, “I honestly don’t care about one or two silly comments, everyone can have their opinion. What stood out to me were the thousands of comments telling me how inspired and encouraged they were by the photo.”
Nonetheless, apart from breaking the stigma around it, let’s not forget that breastfeeding is a boon for the mothers too. “Clearly the mindset has to change. And I believe that starts with mothers and fathers educating their kids about sex and the natural body,” Sharma signed off.
So, to all the new mothers out there, it’s time to break the barriers and take care of their own health along with their infants.