Breastfeeding is something that has been done to feed and nourish babies since the dawn of humanity, but has started turning heads in the past few decades. Some blame it on the physicality of a woman's chest, some say that it’s simply become more of a private act in recent years. But for whatever reason, people have become more squeamish about breastfeeding in public.
Yet some women are breaking the mold and aren’t shying away from the topic of breastfeeding. Many celebs are becoming outspoken about a woman’s right to breastfeed. Several of them are speaking to media outlets, and many of them go even further, posting photos of themselves breastfeeding on social media. Whether or not you fall into the camp of wanting to breastfeed in public sans cover, or whether you’re a person who prefers to cover it up, or feed in private, the fact of the matter remains that a woman should have the ability to choose either option.
The stigma won’t change overnight, and it won’t change unless there are women who stand up to advocate for a women’s right to feed her child, in private or in public. In that respect, these women standing up and being leaders in the movement to #normalizebreastfeeding can benefit all women. At the end of the day, breastfeeding is a choice many moms make, to give their babies the nutrition they need. While it’s not for everyone, every woman should have the chance to do what they think is right, without the judgment or stigma that accompanies it. In that vein, you have to appreciate women like these who do make breastfeeding their children seem like a normal and healthy thing to do.
Chrissy Teigen, model and wife of John Legend, has been a social media superstar, giving an honest, real, and funny spin on parenthood. She hasn’t tried to sugarcoat motherhood as much as some others have and has even done things such as posting photos of her stretch marks. Way to keep it real, Teigan.
She’s posted messages about breastfeeding, where she captioned it “MY MILK”. Can any other breastfeeding mamas relate?
She’s also told Entertainment Tonight: "The feeding schedule surprised me a lot. If you kind of do the math, you're kind of breastfeeding for 10 hours a day total." Can I get a raise of hands of other moms who were surprised by the sheer amount of time you dedicate in those early months towards ensuring the baby is properly fed?
With each breastfeeding session having the possibility of lasting close to an hour, and sessions happening on a regular basis around the clock, it certainly adds up!
She’s also said, "It's very loving and sweet, but it's not easy. It's hard to work your entire day around getting her the nourishment she needs because they are just little animals." Thanks for saying what many of us felt, Chrissy!
Gisele, the beautiful Brazilian bombshell has done her part to break the stigma of breastfeeding in public, and within the workplace as well. In December 2013, she posted this photo showing how much it takes to become that vision that appears in an advertisement. This is a whole new take on “it takes a village”!
She posted with the photo: “What would I do without this beauty squad after the 15 hours flying and only 3 hours of sleep #gettingready”.
Now, there’s still the shock that any woman could look as gorgeous as she does on 3 hours of sleep, regardless of the beauty squad in place. But fans appreciated her showing the balance between motherhood and work, and that it might not all be as easy as she makes it look.
Not surprisingly, she is also an advocate for breastfeeding moms everywhere. Granted, she has gone about it in a slightly different way than most. She has sparked debate with some of her comments, having been quoted as saying:
"Should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months."
Realizing the reaction that her comment caused, she subsequently took to her blog to clarify. "My intention in making a comment about the importance of breastfeeding has nothing to do with the law. It comes from my passion and beliefs about children. Becoming a new mom has brought a lot of questions; I feel like I am in a constant search for answers on what might be the best for my child. It's unfortunate that in an interview sometimes things can seem so black and white. I am sure if I would just be sitting talking about my experiences with other mothers, we would just be sharing opinions. I understand that everyone has their own experience and opinions and I am not here to judge. I believe that bringing a life into this world is the single most important thing a person can undertake and it can also be the most challenging. I think as mothers we are all just trying our best."
Alyssa Milano has been a vocal advocate for breastfeeding. In 2016 in an attempt to normalize breastfeeding, she posted multiple “brelfies” on social media. She has also been outspoken on talk shows about a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. Specifically, on the Wendy Williams show in 2016, she said, "It was kind of shocking that we were that sort of opinionated about something that's supposed to be so incredibly natural". She continued the conversation around the sexualization of breasts, saying “biologically they're not made for sexual things," Milano said. "That's what we've done to them." She was confused with Williams’s preference to not see it in public, asking, “What about it upsets you?”
The exchange became quite widely talked about, to the point of being interviewed specifically about that interview. She has spoken with multiple outlets about her beliefs on a women’s right to breastfeed. To Entertainment Tonight she has said, "Everyone's fine with [Miley Cyrus'] nipples being out, but if I post a picture of me breastfeeding it's like, you know, craziness.” She went on, “You know, I think people are more comfortable sexualizing breasts than relating them to what they were made for, which is feeding another human. It's crazy."
Here is another celeb who’s not afraid to show real life on social media. Actress Jaime King from such shows as Hart of Dixie, which she starred in with fellow mom Rachel Bilson, posted this beauty back in 2014 of her kiddo James Knight. She posted “#JamesKnight is now 8 months old! These are the moments a mother lives for. Breastfeeding should not be taboo- and bottle feeding should not be judged- it's ALL fun for the whole family:)”. Fans responded to her openness, replying “My thoughts exactly. Keep at it Mama!” and “Love Love Love this SO very much! Breastfeeding is wonderful!”.
When baby number two came along, King shared another breastfeeding photo to welcome the newest member of the family. She included this sweet caption: “We are SO happy to welcome to the world our new baby boy! Born Thursday, July 16th! Xx”. While they didn’t announce the name, it shows a real shot of a family expanding that’s far more unfiltered than birth announcements of the past. King shows that breastfeeding is a natural part of a baby’s development…and a family’s too for that matter. Fans responded with some posts about normalizing breastfeeding, a support to the new mom.
Rockers can breastfeed, too! Alanis Morissette showed her pride in two ways when she posted a photo on her social media account. One of her child, and the other of her doing her civic duty to vote. She wore her “I voted” sticker directly on her boob, just above where she’s feeding her kiddo. She captioned it “#evenwhenyoucantleavethehouse”, showing that it’s not always easy being a breastfeeding mom, but you find a way to make it work.
Outside of social media, Morissette has been a public advocate and supporter of breastfeeding. She’s spoken to Good Morning America, where she said,
“I'll stop whenever he wants. Some kids naturally stop at two, some stop at a couple of years later; it's up to the child. I will stop when he says it's time to stop."
She reiterated these sentiments on The Billy Bush Show, saying, "I breastfeed and I'll be breastfeeding until my son is finished and he weans”. Not only is she a proud breastfeeder, she’s also not shy about doing it into a later age, something some women shy away from, or become self-conscious about. Clearly, this woman has no qualms about keeping her son well fed and isn’t afraid to let the world know.
Kristen Cavallari, the reality star and mother of three shows what life on the road as a mother can be like. While on a book tour in 2016, she posted this shot of her pumping milk behind the scenes. She captioned it “The glamorous side of the #BalancinginHeels #BookTour”. There’s nothing like having all the accessories to the perfect outfit – little black dress, stiletto booties, and a pump on the boob. Many a woman who has had to be away from the baby within the first year (or beyond) can relate to doing whatever you need to do to keep that supply going. It’s not to say that it’s easy, though. She commiserated about the challenges to HollywoodLife.com ,"
It's hard. It was the hardest part of the whole thing and no one tells you that. I was a slave to pumping."
Many of us moms can relate. As natural as breastfeeding may be, there are few women out there that would say it’s without its challenges. Showing breastfeeding fitting in between the busyness of everyday life, and being real about the challenges that accompany it, can help others who have struggled realize that it’s okay.
But has it been worth it to her? She told People.com, “I can honestly say I owe it all to breastfeeding."
Brooklyn Decker has not been shy about posting breastfeeding pics online. She posted this one of her and her baby in January of 2016, showing how real it can get. This was during awards season, and she was in a slightly less glamorous position. She posted, “#notgoldenglobes, #mykidsuckinonagoldenglobetho”.
Decker has also been vocal about the supposed multiple benefits of breastfeeding. Some women have even joked that if your kid gets a broken bone, to put breastmilk on it (note – we do not suggest this as a cure!). Does that mean the benefits exist only for the babies, though? Well, Brooklyn Decker has questioned that!
She shared some of her thoughts, quoted by US Magazine, “I heard it’s a cure-all and it gets rid of zits and under eye circles,” she has said. “I was a little too scared to try it the first time around, but I might steal a little milk from this baby and see what happens.”
Here is one mom who knows the benefits of breastmilk, and goes so far as to even consider trying it out on herself! While there may not be significant medical proof to its beauty benefits, we certainly know the good it can do for the baby.
When you’re a working momma, you do what you need to do to make it work. For many women, this includes using a pumping room at the office. For others with less conventional jobs, like rocker Gwen Stafani, this means bringing the baby along on tour to ensure breastfeeding continues going strong. Stefani posted this photo, barefoot and breastfeeding, while in Switzerland with her babe. She didn’t make a big deal of it in the post, commenting with a simple “#Switzerland !!!!!” followed by an emoji of a bottle of milk.
Her followers seemed to appreciate it, posting replies such as “love this photo! She's the best.”, and “Thank you for sharing! It makes a difference!” Sometimes seeing a celeb do something so normal to parenthood can make others realize how normal it truly can be.
She didn’t have any set plans to stop just because a little thing like a worldwide tour was happening around her. She spoke to The Guardian about it, saying, “I don't know when I'm going to stop breastfeeding... I'll just keep going while I can -- like, he's getting his teeth so it is a little bit scary. He's bitten me a few times!"
So was she a fan of breastfeeding, biting challenges and all? When she spoke with USA today, she seemed in favor of it! "I didn't want him to [quit]," she said. "It felt like a total rejection. It was really hormonal, and trying to stop in the middle of the tour was insane."
Kunis, while not going so far as to post breastfeeding photos online, has nonetheless been vocal about a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. In a Vanity Fair interview, she had quite a few things to say:
“I support every woman’s choice in what she wants to do and whatever makes them happy, but for me, I did nurse my child and I literally breastfed everywhere. There were many times where I didn’t bring a cover with me, and so I just did it in a restaurant, in the subway, in the park, at airports, and in planes. Why did I do it in public? Because I had to feed my child. She’s hungry. I need to feed her whether it’s out of a bottle or out of my boob no matter where I was.”
Many a mom can relate to this situation. Why be ashamed of it, when it’s what the baby needs? She’s said more about breastfeeding in public.
Her best tip? If it does bother you, just look away.
“It always made my husband and I feel a little weird. It took us a little back because people actually looked at us in a shameful [way], and we were like, ‘Oh my God,’ because it’s so not a sexual act. It didn’t matter to me what other people thought. That’s what I chose to do, but I think it’s unfortunate that people are so hard on women who choose to do it and do it in public. In the States and in our culture, we sexualize the breast so much that there’s an aspect of it that people just don’t know how to wrap their head around the idea of showing your breast in public. But I respect the opinions on both sides. If it’s not for you, don’t look.”
Even Victoria Secret models are comfortable posting breastfeeding photos online. Breasts are not just for putting in fancy bras, after all. The reason they exist is to feed the next generation of humans.
Kerr posted this photo upon the birth of her kiddo, and isn’t shy to show the realness behind raising children. But how did she like the experience? She has written about the experience on KORA Organics, her skin-care website, "I intend to breastfeed for as long as I can. My breast milk will give our little Flynn the nutrition he needs for his continued healthy development, and to all the mums out there, I am sure you will make the right choice for you and your baby."
She seems to believe in the nutrition that breastmilk can provide to babies, yet leaves the ultimate decision up to each individual woman. Though she does believe that nursing your child is "the most natural thing in the world."
Wetpaint.com has quoted her as saying, “I just loved breastfeeding. It was something that came very easily to me and it helped speed up my metabolism,” she continues. “I nursed for a year and a half, and I pumped when I was at work.”
Liv Tyler is another celeb who wasn’t shy to post a photo of breastfeeding her baby daughter on social media. She posted this “brelfie” on Instagram in July 2016. She commented “Sunday morning snuggles with my baby girl. So grateful for this precious gift.” Showing the gratitude towards her daughter and their experiences together was definitely aww-inducing.
Fans seemed to rally behind her, with comments to the post including such gems as “So lovely to see you breastfeeding 💖 My warmest wishes !”, “Makes me so happy that you breastfeed!!!! So amazing. So much love to you”, and “happy to see a mother is breastfeeding her baby”.
She later admitted that the photo was originally intended for her fiance, but stood behind the photo. She has said to People Magazine,
“Honestly, I took that picture for David because we were in bed snuggling and he was at work … There should be no stigma — it’s a very beautiful and natural thing.”
She also seemed to be enjoying the new mom bliss, continuing her comments to People. “I’m completely blissed out. Sitting with all the children and David, I literally keep pinching myself, going, ‘Am I dreaming? This is amazing.’”
A mom has got to do what a mom’s got to do. For many moms, that means going back to work and doing what they need to do to support the baby. Rachel Bilson is no different. The working mom went into work with a new accessory – her breast pump. She wasn’t shy to post the photo online in December of 2015, with the comment “Back to work.....”.
Fans seemed to appreciate the behind-the-scenes shot. One commented, “You're awesome!!! I breastfed my daughter, Summer (yes, your character in the OC may or may not have influenced her name lol) for almost two years. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance but it is one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had 💗 keep it up mama!!!” It’s clear that she has made an impact on some of her followers.
In addition to posting the breast pump photo, Bilson has been open to trying to work breastfeeding into her life. US Weekly has quoted her as saying, "I needed to wear a dress that I could wear a nursing bra with—all [of my] clothes need to be able to [accommodate] a nursing bra. Plus, [I love] the colors. I was so happy to wear Jonathan Saunders. I've never worn him before, so I'm excited to be wearing it!"
It’s great to know that the struggles moms go through can even translate to the red carpet!
Hear hear, an advocate to breastfeeding mamas everywhere! Many a nursing mom has had to take her breastfeeding pump on the go, to help maintain milk supply and stock up on bottled milk for her babes. Think celebrities are any different? Kristen Bell took it the next step up and posted a photo of her breastfeeding pump while backstage at the CMT Music Awards. She commented: “My new backstage beauty routine: #pumpit #pumppumpitup #CMTAwards @CMT”
The comments on her post ranged from “you are an inspiration” to “Hearing that you pump, & did every 3 hrs shooting the vm movie is so awesome & encouraging! Thank you!”. That’s got to feel good!
And it was likely an encouragement to other moms that it’s totally fine to do what you have to do to be a mom and a woman at the same time.
She’s also been an outspoken advocate about breastfeeding. When speaking to Redbook magazine, she was quoted as saying "Get over it! They're just boobs! Calm down. They're under our shirt whether you're looking at them or not.” Clearly, this is one strong mama on a mission, and nobody is going to shame her for using her body to feed her babe!
Olivia Wilde has leaned into women’s empowerment over the past few years, and this is just one more avenue it’s taken her. Not only did she post a photo of her actually breastfeeding her baby, the shirt she’s wearing while doing so says “never underestimate the power of a woman”. It’s a hashtag in the post as well, where she says “My drinking buddy.” This photo generated over two hundred thousand likes, proving that there’s an army of women out there supportive of a woman’s right to breastfeed and not feel shy about it.
With comments on the post such as “Breastfeeding is the best and you look so beautiful!!” and “Heard about this photo on a podcast and I went hunting for it. It’s perfect”, it’s clear this tribe of strong women is growing.
Olivia was also open about her experiences with motherhood in the September 2014 Glamour magazine issue, where she spoke about her breastfeeding experiences with Otis, then a mere four months old. She was even photographed feeding him by Glamour magazine themselves. She was quoted as saying “'The picture grew out of a very organic moment. I was working, I was shooting the cover of Glamour, and I needed to feed my son, Otis. And so he came to work, and I had to feed him. And either I was going to do it off-camera or on, and I thought, You know what—shoot it because this is part of my real life.'"
Thandie Newton rounds out our crew of celebs that have shared breastfeeding photos on social media. She posted this raw, real photo on Instagram in July of 2016, making a statement. She commented, “Perfect happiness @latitudefest This is what my body is made for. And the rest is my choice. #Freedom”.
Clearly, Newton is not afraid to put it out there, both in a visual way, and in standing up for her decision to breastfeed in public. Many fans supported her post, commenting things like “The most beautiful picture that a person can see, beauty and pure love ... I will never forget those moments with my wife and our baby ...”. The photo did creative a divisive conversation online about what age is the right age to continue breastfeeding until. Some people criticized the post, saying she shouldn’t be breastfeeding a “preschooler”. Another said, “Nobody wants to see that!”.
Wherever you land on the “right” age to finish breastfeeding, at the end of the day, Newton wasn’t wrong. A woman’s body is made to breastfeed, and the decision of whether to do so or when to wrap it up, is her choice to make.
Sparking the conversation may not be the worst thing, to show women that it is, in fact, their decision to make for themselves, their child, and their family. Whatever your personal opinion might be, it’s hard to deny that fact.