Chocolate Milk Mommies, a parenting group in Birmingham, Alabama, posed topless for a powerful series of images, that aims to end the stigma surrounding breastfeeding.
Their goal is to normalize nursing in the African American community.
‘It is taboo within the African American home to breastfeed your child, let alone to do it past the age of one,’ Rauslyn Adams, a 26-year-old member of the group, said.
‘Breastfeeding has been seen by some African American women as reverting to “slavery days” when feeding a child by breast was the only option,’ she explained.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study suggests that black mothers ‘may need more, targeted support to start and continue breastfeeding,.’ Black infants have the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration.
Angel Warren shared a Facebook open call looking for nursing mothers who would like to pose for a breastfeeding shoot and thus, The Chocolate Milk Mommies group was formed.
Local photographer Lakisha Cohill shot the images of the mothers posing on rocks topless while breastfeeding their children. The children range from infants to toddlers.
The moms are dressed all in black and wearing gold crowns to honor the shoot’s ‘goddess’ theme. One photo sees Ashlei Goodwiing cradling her daughter Zoei Marie, who has her own tiny gold crown.
The purpose of the shoot is to encourage black mothers to breastfeed. Rauslyn said that there is still a stigma for all nursing moms, regardless of their race.
‘Feeding a child in public from the breast is often seen as indecent and given a perverse sexual connotation,’ she explained.
‘The indecency claims of public breastfeeding generalizations make it hard for any woman, let alone an African American woman, to nurture her child through breastfeeding.’
The group wants to make it clear that it does not frown upon anyone who has chosen not to breastfeed. They are simply trying to raise awareness for the women in their community.
Rauslyn said that one of the mothers in the group is still feeding her two-year-old child and has been shamed for it.
‘This photo was for awareness, for all the women who don’t have support in breastfeeding,’ she said.
Charity Moore, 26, offered advice to fellow mothers who have faced criticism for breastfeeding their children in public.
‘You have the natural and legal right to breastfeed your baby in whatever manner you see fit: covered, uncovered, in private, in public,’ she stressed.
‘Never let anyone else and their views dictate the choices you make for yourself and your baby.’
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