Photographer creates video featuring moms who have been shamed by friends and family for breastfeeding
Many breastfeeding moms have experienced being getting shamed by stranger for daring to feed their baby in public. Having someone try to make you feel bad when you’re just making sure your child doesn’t go hungry can be a painful experience, but it’s possible to brush off the comments of a loud-mouthed stranger. What’s harder to handle is when the person giving you grief over breastfeeding in public is someone you know and love.
Mom of three Megan Soto knows all to well what’s it like to be shamed by a family member for breastfeeding. This past Thanksgiving, her own aunt refused to support her breasting her now 22-month old son in view of the family. Soto shared the incident on Facebook, where it struck a familiar chord with many of her friends. “I had a lot of moms comment that they had family who were really hurtful too,” she tells Scary Mommy. “I decided to address the issue of family and friends making hurtful comments.”
Soto owns Megan Soto Photography, and decided to use her professional skills to bring awareness to this hurtful phenomenon. She put out a call for stories of women being shamed for breastfeeding by close friends and family. 54 moms replied. She complied some of them into a powerful video titled “The Shame of the Nursing Mother.” The video has been viewed over 35,000 times since it was posted last week.
The stories are heartbreaking, and Soto’s own is included in the video.”My aunt told my husband that if I was planning to come to the family dinner I was not to nurse my son in her home around her family. She said she supports breastfeeding, but doing it around others is like pornography.”
The video captures the isolation breastfeeding moms can feel when they’re not supported by the ones closest to them. There’s a mom missing out on a birthday celebration, a mom in a bathroom stall feeding her baby while her friends have fun without her at the splash pad, a mom who’s nursing in the car instead of on the sidelines of her older child’s game, and a mom who find herself breastfeeding in a closet as to not offend anyone during a family dinner.
Soto hopes the video can help people see what it feels to be a nursing mother who’s asked to leave a social gathering. “I really hope that people see it and see how isolating and hurtful their comments are. It’s easy to tell someone to just go to the other room, and when that mom is in hiding it’s out of sight out of mind,” she explains. “I hope that by showing the full journey people are more empathetic towards their struggles and put more heart into how they address breastfeeding mommas.”
Soto formula fed her oldest daughter and says she has no regrets over her choice.”She’s a thriving and wonderful six year old,” she gushes. She wishes people would react to breastfeeding the same way they do when they see a baby with a bottle. “I never had family make snide comments or had to try to hide my feeding choice when I formula fed her, which is quite the opposite of the experience I’ve had with many family members throughout my breastfeeding journey,” she says.
The final line of the video is read by Soto herself, and says it all.“No one ever asked me to miss out of life when I was formula feeding. Breastfeeding mothers deserve the same respect.”