Should You Care About the Photo of Gisele Bundchen Nursing Her 1-Year-Old?

I am thrilled to feature the following guest post from Avital Norman Nathman, author of the anthology The Good Mother Myth coming out in January.

Gisele Bundchen Nursing

A few days ago, supermodel and mom Gisele Bundchen posted a picture of herself nursing her 1-year-old daughter. The photo, which Gisele captioned “What would I do without this beauty squad after the 15 hours flying and only 3 hours of sleep #multitasking#gettingready.” showed her sitting in a chair being made up by a team of stylists while donning a white robe and breastfeeding her daughter.

It’s no surprise, that the picture drummed up quite the reaction. Someone from showed up on Good Morning America, stating that breastfeeding is “a very personal choice” and that the photo is “obnoxious” and “a little outrageous.” Fortunately, not everyone felt the same way. Most people championed Gisele for normalizing breastfeeding, especially of an older baby and I have to agree. There is something incredibly powerful about seeing women going about their day to day lives while engaging in normal tasks of motherhood, like breastfeeding. It’s one reason that I appreciate seeing pictures of Italian MP Licia Ronzulli wearing her baby to parliamentary proceedings.

However, while I love the picture Gisele posted to her Instagram, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated that the average nursing mother does not have the same support or financial ability to make breastfeeding as easy or carefree. The reality is that most women head back to work due to the lack of paid maternity leave and are faced with jobs where there is little support when it comes to pumping or breastfeeding, despite legislation.

While our society can tout “breast is best” all it wants, the reality is that we lack the policies needed to ensure every mother who wants to breastfeed can. The reason this is so disheartening is that breastfeeding quickly falls into one of the battles in the so-called “Mommy Wars.” Women pit themselves against each other over who is the better mom. Did you breastfeed or bottle-feed? I have seen Facebook postings devolve into messy, heated arguments over this, and have heard of more than one real life friendship coming to a head over this debate.

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Unfortunately, in these types of battles, nobody wins, especially mothers. Instead of fighting each other, we should be fighting the system that holds us back and does not allow for equal access to the support needed to succeed.


Avital Norman Nathman, is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine, Every Mother Counts, The New York Times, xoJane, CNN, and more. In addition to her blog, The Mamafesto, Avital has a regular series for Ms. Magazine’s site, and a regular feminist parenting column for The Frisky. Her first book: The Good Mother Myth (Seal Press) will be out January 1st and is currently available for pre-order. 






About Brian Leaf

Brian Leaf is author of forthcoming parenting memoir, Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi: Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting as well as the yoga memoir Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness. You can find him online at

15 thoughts on “Should You Care About the Photo of Gisele Bundchen Nursing Her 1-Year-Old?”

  1. No, we shouldn’t be making a big deal of it. She’s feeding her baby human milk…Human milk for human baby, nothing shocking about that really.

  2. In Brazil majority of mummies breastfeed if they have the chance and conditions to do so. It is cultural. I am breastfeeding my 3years and 8months daughter and most people here say: still breastfeeding??? But in my home country I am not seen as an alien but as someone who had the opportunity to do what is right.

  3. Gisele is Brazilian and Brazilian women usu. breastfeed. It’s no biggie. I really don’t understand the shetstorm around this photo, really. It’s one woman’s reality.

  4. Great photo, but honestly my first reaction is, “Eesh, I’m glad *I* don’t have a bunch of people messing with my body simultaneously like that!!”

  5. I understood the controversy to be more about her using the hashtag “multitasking” in a photo in which she is being waited upon by three people.

  6. Breastfeeding is really common here in Brazil and is seen as the better option when feeding a baby. Of course, some women cant breastfeed and that’s ok too, but using formula it’s a last resource most of the times. All my friends breastfeed and it’s oh so normal to see women breastfeeding everywhere (buses, parks, restaurants, movies, etc.) that i find myself having a hard time to understand how this picture could generate shock. Brazilians are also really jokefull and i can see myself saying that i was multitasking if i where on her shoes. It’s a playfull and light way to comment on this situation!

  7. Forgot to say… nowadays every brazilian women has the right to 6 months of paid maternity leave. Many women put their babies inndaycare near their work so they can breastfeedmon their lunch time.

  8. Interesting that she doesn’t mention breastfeeding her daughter, she is showing appreciation for the team of people helping her to get ready for whatever she has to do, and most people missed the fact that she just flew for 15 hours and got 3 hours sleep.

  9. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival.
    If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 220 000 child lives would be saved every year. Globally, less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. Adequate breastfeeding counselling and support are essential for mothers and families to initiate and maintain optimal breastfeeding practices.
    WHO actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children. This fact file explores the many benefits of the practice, and how strong support to mothers can increase breastfeeding worldwide.”

  10. It’s good to see the community of are all pretty much in the same boat on position to this photo not being a big deal.

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