Attachment parenting, Babywearing, Breastfeeding, Cosleeping, Featured, Parenting

5 inspiring Breastfeeding Images that normalise nursing

1 April, 2016

I am always delighted when I stumble across breastfeeding images and attachment parenting in historical photos or art. It seems to affirm a strong belief of mine- that society’s discomfort at public breastfeeding and other intuitive forms of parenting is a modern phenomenon.

Allow these breastfeeding images to be a salve on the wound caused by the public shaming of breastfeeding mothers.

Some of history’s best artists and the world’s most sophisticated fine art deal with the beautiful act of nursing – try fitting the word “tramp” in to some of these situations.

Come and take a stroll through some of my absolute favourite natural parenting paintings by some of my favourite artists…Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

La Maternite
Auguste Renoir

I love the everyday scenario of a mother perched on a wall to respond to her baby’s need. I feel like her eyes have the oxytocin glaze, that relaxed kind of high breastfeeding can sometimes produce.

Artist Stella Mertens says “Renoir – eternal continuity- this flesh remains bound to this flesh; monument to hope and love created by your genius.”

This image challenges those who say breastfeeding should be kept behind closed doors, that it is not to be done in public. Renoir’s breastfeeding image says “Anywhere the baby needs to be fed!”

The Three Ages of Life: Detail
Gustav Klimt

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Oh, Klimt. A hero of mine depicting a passion of mine. Look at the connection between mother and child here! The vulnerability and the trust between them. There is a peace here in this deepest of sleeps; the contentedness of cosleeping.

The challenge here is for those who believe mother and child need to be separated at night. This is not “normal” for much of the world! Sleeping entwined, with ready access to breastfeeding is a beautiful thing for both mother and child, and has been for millennia.

Mother and Child
Jose Orozco

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

One of the first things strangers often remark when they see my large baby on back is “Gosh, you must have a strong back!” As if it is a hardship. I love this picture as it perfectly shows that babywearing is no hardship, no maternal sacrifice. There is pleasure here. A woman able to work, to create, while nurturing a child. The child is intrigued – mother is opening doors to the world and the child is in the perfect place to discover it all.

This mother’s breasts here feel like the tools that they are! The instruments of motherhood, rather than anything to be objectified. This breastfeeding image normalises the presence of breasts in everyday life.

Utamao Breastfeeding - Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Young Mother Giving Milk to Her Son
1753 – 1806 (Woodcut undated)

This baby is guzzling like a champion and he has that look on his face that nursing babies often get – a sort of pride at nailing this breastfeeding business. I love the delight on the mother’s face and I love that these are expressions that have crossed the faces of millions of nursing mothers and babies over the course of history.

There is something of an older child’s knowing in this rascal’s face, perhaps an agelessness. It isn’t historically, or globally, normal to constantly ask mothers after 3 months of nursing “when are you weaning him?” When the child is done, that is when! My own photos of breastfeeding my two older children are here.

Utamaro, what a legend.

Stanisław Wyspiański
19055 images that normalise breastfeeding

It’s that artist, you know, Stanisław Wyspiański, whose name just rolls off the tongue. Hehe.

The thing I love about “Motherhood” is the expressions on all the faces. There isn’t really much romanticising of breastfeeding here! (Which I would hate to do.) Breastfeeding for me was surprisingly painful. In fact, despite knowing many breastfeeders, having huge support, having been breastfed and having read billions of books about the importance of breastfeeding there was a day early on where I thought “I CANNOT DO THIS” – it was too painful. I was shocked and even a bit hurt, emotionally. It seems a common part of the breastfeeding journey. A deep need to concentrate, to work at it, to push through until you arrive at the place where it really comes naturally. I feel like of all the breastfeeding images I have chosen, this one sums that up! There is a sort of desperate hope in the mother’s expression, and an intrigue from her friends (or La Leche league support team) that could almost make this painting be captioned “That’s it, good latch there mama!”

I would love to hear about your favourite breastfeeding images.

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  • Elizabeth 20 March, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    A great roundup of breastfeeding artwork. I was not familiar with the works of Jose Orozco, so I’m really happy that you introduced me to his beautiful painting.

    And yes, I also have to follow the word phenomenon with the same tune in my head (at least most of the time it’s in my head, although it is a tune that lends itself to being sung outloud, isn’t it)

    Have a good day,

  • Yael 20 March, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    I couldn’t help noticing two things:
    1) none of theses babies wear a nappy.
    2) the baby in Utamaro’s painting is doing this nearly unbearable thing of playing with the other nipple…! How realistic.

  • Laurenne 20 March, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I love all of these, but particularly the last one because it’s just like my littlest at the moment. At 1 she loves nursing sitting up in the day so she doesn’t miss anything and she’s always trying to do a bit of that nipple twiddling! 🙂

    I need to get some artwork like this around my house, what healthy images for my girls to see as they grow up 🙂

    L x

  • ThaliaKR 20 March, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Oh, deLIGHTful!

    I have a Pinterest board full of such things (hm, *we* have? are you a pinner to it too?):

    And I imagine many will have seen this BuzzFeed community post on historical images of breastfeeding? So eye-opening about how normal it must have seemed, even in days of lots of clothing and covering, for people to be happily photographing and photographed.

    I also love that paintings of Mary breastfeeding Jesus are common enough to have a name – Maria Lactans. Ooh, someone has a board devoted to these!

    And this is fascinating – sketch of an LDS church meeting in 1871, woman in front row feeding.

    • Lucy 25 March, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Gonna get busy 🙂

  • Leslie Kendall Dye 21 March, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Oh yes, playing with the other nipple! This one is driving me a bit mad with my two and a half year old now!

    • Emma Clement 25 March, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      Oh that other nipple tweek! I had that one for a while! X

  • Kevan Yates 21 March, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Thank you
    I must admit that reading your “posts” is a bit of a guilty pleasure. After all I missed the boat on raising my children in such a (what’s the right word) great, happy, positive way. Anyway they are old enough now to know that I always tried to do my best for them. With the granddaughter being 25 days old and now weighing 4lb 1oz (she was 8 weeks early, but doing well)I hope that my daughter will enjoy the journey ahead as much as I did.
    Which is why today’s post is so welcomed as it coincides with this headline and article in today’s Daily Mail (I know, should get a better paper but my dad likes the crossword) You can’t breastfeed here because it could offend other patients, nurses tell mother with newborn baby in hospital waiting room
    So please carry on the sterling work that you do.

    • Lucy 25 March, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Thank you for your comment, how lovely!

  • jessica 21 March, 2014 at 6:54 am

    Hi! This is my first time commenting on your blog! I read it all the time in my feeder 🙂 Love all your posts and especially this one! You’re fantastic! I’m a fellow babywearing, EC practicing, co-sleeping mom 🙂 Love your adventures! Much love!!

    • Lucy 25 March, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Ah, how wonderful thank you!

  • Anna 21 March, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Ah, these are all so beautiful, Thanks for sharing! x

  • Tasha Batsford 21 March, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    a) thanks for the brain worm

    b) modern phenomenon, or marketing phenomenon? ooOOoooooo!!

    c) I could never pic a favourite, but I adore the old photo that Beautiful Breastfeeding page on Facebook uses as a profile picture –

    There are just no words for the beauty in that photo, that mum is shining!

  • Emma Clement 25 March, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    I love the Renoir – just look at how juicy and plump those baby legs are! X

  • Natalie @ little Jam Pot Life 5 April, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    I’ve come across some of these before, along with some others too and it really is a beautiful thing to realise, and sad at the same time as it is modern day life/some societies that have somehow spiralled this act of love into something “not normal to do” which is a shame.
    Lovely round up and great post Lucy xx

  • Steph 7 April, 2016 at 2:54 am

    These are beautiful images. It always makes me sad that breastfeeding needs ‘normalising.’ 🙁

  • Cat Noakes-Duncan 9 April, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Hey Lucy, Cat here! Thanks for your lovely comment on my little blog post. I tried replying but it didn’t seem to work. So… I thought I would catch you on here.
    What a lot of beauty there is in your life, FABULOUS!
    I have at least 100 postcards of the Klimt print that I found in a garage sale once. It is one of my all-time favourite paintings and I have one framed in my bathroom to remind me of the beauty of motherhood and the immense love of God.
    It’s great to touch base after so many years and have sneak peak into your crazy life and see photos of your beautiful children and Tim too of course!!!
    Blessings from us here in Naenae. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood lets hang out!
    Cat xxx

  • Agnieszka 10 April, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Wonderful images indeed! A little comment on Wyspiański’s ‘Motherhood’: sitting for the painting were artist’s family. His wife, Teofila, is nursing their son, also Stanisław, while their daughter, Helena, is watching (she’s portrayed twice, in front and side view). A perfect depiction of setting good example

    • Lucy 10 April, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Thank you fr sharing that!

  • Tipsmom 19 April, 2016 at 2:16 am

    I think it’s the best feeling in the world, the moment that I completely contacted with my baby.
    So beautiful, thanks for sharing

    • Lucy 19 April, 2016 at 9:52 am

      Thank you!

  • Madeleine 3 June, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Just got reminded of this post when the swedish national museum made a pop up museum at the train with this photo:

    Omg, I got so happy about it and I got a free lunch aswell – told them that it made me so glad to see it. Hildegard Thorell is the painter.

  • Mads 3 September, 2016 at 4:48 am

    These images are stunning! x