This Moving Video Reveals ‘The Shame of the Nursing Mother’

This moving video sheds light on breastfeeding shame. A birth photographer created a video to shed light on a problem that hits close to home for many moms — being shamed by family and friends for breastfeeding.

Although nursing is the most natural act between a mother and her baby, many people still view it as indecent — something that should only be done in private.

We’re all too familiar with the story: A woman is breastfeeding at a department store — her baby, clinging to her nipple, is having a mid-morning snack — while someone nearby glares in disgust. Maybe that someone asks her to “go somewhere private” or says something like “eww, that’s gross.” If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you might be familiar with this scenario.

Related: Kmart in Australia Target Of Breastfeeding Flash Mob

Luckily, many moms get support from their close friends and family members. Who cares what some backwards stranger at the supermarket says when you have your family rooting for you, supporting your decision to breastfeed whenever and wherever your baby is hungry?

But what about moms who don’t get that support from family and friends?

Birth and family photographer, Megan Soto, created this moving video to show audiences that many people, including family members, don’t always support the breastfeeding moms in their lives. Often these moms have to hide to feed their babies.

Soto, a mother of three, asked women to share their personal stories of being shamed for breastfeeding. Often these women were expected to hide in public washrooms, closets and bedrooms, separate from their family members.

Related: Mom Uses Beautiful Photography to Normalize Extended Breastfeeding

One women recalls. “I hid in the bedroom to nurse my daughter. When my nephew tried to come into the room my brother sternly stopped him and said, ‘Don’t look at that — it’ll burn your eyes out.'”

Make sure you have a box of tissues when you hit “Play.”


14 thoughts on “This Moving Video Reveals ‘The Shame of the Nursing Mother’”

  1. It’s ridiculous that a normal natural act would be considered pornography! I think the media has over sexualixed breasts somewhat in the last century. I don’t think our Great Grandmother ever went… “Cover Up! Hide” when her Daughter breastfed in those days. Don’t believe formula was popular then either so breastmilk was really the only milk available. And breastfeeding was a normal thing.

  2. I agree that it’s ridiculous and horrific what breastfeeding mothers are put through.

    I breastfed my 4 daughters for a total of 8.5 years. I didn’t care what anyone thought or said about it. I was reading your wonderful magazine 24 years ago and read lots of books plus had midwives with my last two daughters.

    Formula feeding should be banned unless there is no option, which there usually is through milk banks. Most formula is junk food for babies, unless you make your own at home, like one of my sisters’ who adopted 2 babies did.

    Breastfeeding is a normal part of life and what our breasts were created for in the first place. How can that be considered pornographic? There are billboard ads that show more than a breastfeeding mother.

    1. Formula should be banned?? I nursed all 6 of my babies, but I never would look down or shame someone for using formula. Women like you are why we have mommy wars and why people feel shamed for using formula

  3. Before I had kids I felt that my sisters were wrong to breastfeed so openly at the table or close by groups of people and should be more discreet. Then when I had my first child I was stunned to realize how isolated I felt and how lonely it was to have to leave a social setting to nurse privately.

  4. It’s not demeaning to go someplace private to breastfeed. Like it or not, the sight of a breast, particularly the nipple, sexually stimulates men. It’s how we’re made. All things “natural” are not meant to be viewed in public. It’s not the baby’s fault or the mother’s fault, but if the breast is exposed it should be done privately. A woman giving birth is also “natural,” but I wouldn’t want to see it done in public, would you? What’s wrong with using a blanket like a “curtain”?

  5. I’m on the fence about his one…
    As a nursing mother myself, I’ve been on both sides of this. I always used a cover for 2 reasons: my little one is easily distracted, and I’m shy ;). I had no one ever comment negatively on me in public, many people didn’t even realize what I was doing (I once had an older fellow peak down my cover to see the ‘sleeping baby’. He freaked out when he realized I was actually breastfeeding and ran away after apologizing profusely). I’ve had many positive remarks in supermarkets and stores, in fact, mostly from either very old women or 15-20 year old women. Now, my toddler doesn’t feel the need to maintain eye contact so much when feeding, so I just tuck her under my shirt and don’t use a special cover. No one sees anything but a ‘shy toddler hiding’.
    I have encountered issues with my in-laws, however. My father-in-law is squicked out COMPLETELY by breastfeeding, even with the cover. When they would visit early on, he would go hide in the other room if I breastfed. I was at their house for a holiday with much of the family there as well. I was told that I had to hide in a backroom to feed the baby, “because there are teenage boys here, they don’t need to see that.” Considering the use of the cover, all they see is a baby hiding under my shirt!! I stated I wasn’t going to miss the festivities just because my baby was hungry.
    I breastfed in the living room with several people around. No one commented or even seemed to notice, least of all the teen boys who probably didn’t even realize why I was ‘hiding’ the baby under her blanket. Ha, take that in-laws!
    Honestly, I can see why people have issues with someone feeding their baby without a cover. Breasts aren’t something you expect to see in the supermarket 😛 However, I can also understand that some babies despise covers.

  6. I am fully supportive of public breastfeeding. However, I personally don’t like to do it in public (usually) because I am shy/private, and when my babies get older they get so distracted if they hear or see anything while feeding. Going somewhere private to feed them is a nice break from the outside world and its really a time for us to have some one on one bonding.

    1. I’m all for nursing. But a break room is for ALL of the employees old, young, modest, liberal, men, women etc. I’m a woman who breastfed all of her biological children (4 out of 6 total) and would not want to take my break with someone sitting there, pumping away at her breasts in the middle of the break room. They could find a private place maybe an empty office or conference room or maybe the bathroom is the only available place to do this. But even as a breastfeeding advocate, I’d never agree to pumping in the break room.

  7. To the commentators who are talking about covering up or going elsewhere to nurse: you are missing the point.
    If you’re shy and prefer to nurse in private, please go right ahead. It’s our choice as mothers! But I think the video is showing cases where there is lack of free choice, where women have been shamed out of their choice to nurse where they please.
    It’s too bad that we have to consider the comfort of others, be it friends, family strangers, before we consider our own comfort and that of our baby.
    Would we send a friend to go eat lunch alone in a bathroom stall or a closet?

  8. To take this one step further. I operate a child care and encourage moms to breastfeed. To do this, most have to pump at work. I had a professional mom that had to pump in a bathroom stall! Wouldn’t it be great, if all break rooms would accommodate a nursing mom whether she is nursing her child or pumping in order to feed her child optimally.

  9. I have two children that I happily nursed well over the age of one and my third child on the way that I will nurse. Nursing is so wonderful for your baby and creates a special and deep bond. However as a very modest and Christian women I do feel that all of our body parts should be covered. Too many people walk around half dressed and to expose yourself in public while nursing is not Christ like and there is never any reason you cannot excuse yourself to go spend quality and private time with your child for them to nurse. Nursing in public had turned into a way for women to expose themselves and it is highly inappropriate and sad that we take something so special as nursing and pervert the idea and get so angry at others because they may be uncomfortable with it. We feel that those who do not support breastfeeding are harsh to us but we are no better by being so bold and harsh back. I pray that many nursing mothers will understand and be more modest and humble about the true meaning behind the special gift that God gave us to nurse our precious little ones.

  10. I am a mom who breastfeed all seven of my kids, and I just think it is something that should be done in private. Yes, it is a very natural thing, but to me it is a one on one bonding time between mom and baby only. Your baby will not starve as it would only take a very short time to go elsewhere if in the company of others. I never could stand when my aunt used to visit my home, and pull her boob out in front of the family to nurse my cousins. I always went to the nearest bedroom or bathroom stall. We can’t normally walk around naked as it is a crime(indecent exposure), so therefore I don’t feel it should be allowed. I would find it difficult to be able to do such a thing while everyone else is looking. I don’t feel everyone needs to see what I have, and private parts are called “private” for a reason.

  11. Maybe instead of continuously trying to “make a statement” women need to focus on WHAT they are doing. Feeding their baby. A baby has the RIGHT to eat in a calm, quiet environment while bonding with his mother. That isn’t happening when you are sitting in the middle of of a splash park “making your statement”. Not only are you being rude and inconsiderate of the children and parents who are trying to maneuver around you, you’re being awful to your baby who would likely appreciate getting away from the noise, hot sun, etc. for 10-15 minutes while he eats. This is true anytime your baby is hungry and you have the option to go somewhere quiet and relaxing so he can eat, both of you can relax and recharge. Yes, there are times that baby has to eat and it’s on a train, plane, playground, whatever. But when I nurse, I use a very light flannel blanket not to cover up for other people – but so my child can relax, have the lights and images and sounds toned down a bit and focus on a peaceful meal. He doesn’t get distracted the nursing sessions don’t take so long that it’s time to eat again soon after I’ve fed him, and I don’t feel chronically tied down to nursing and therefore nurse later into his life. His digestion is better (less gassiness and fussing) because again – peaceful. Stop caring so much about what other people are saying, doing or how they’re looking at you. That’s on THEM. Just do your thing and keep the baby’s comfort above your activism.

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