An Illinois photographer is shining a positive light on nursing through babyhood and beyond. In a series of photos titled "I Breastfeed My Toddler" (and in her forthcoming book, Breastfeeding Goddesses), Ivette Ivens beautifully captured the complicated, visceral side of breastfeeding, how it can make you feel powerful and nurturing and serene -- often all at the same time. Moms and babies were shot in windswept, ethereal settings and bathed in warm, natural light, but perhaps what's more striking is the look on their faces: tenderness, joy, love. It's not what many of us think about when we consider nursing past the one- or two-year mark -- which is exactly Ivens' point.
The inspiration behind her series, Ivens says, comes from her own experience. The 25-year-old breasfed her older son until he was more than 3-years-old, and is currently continuing with her 8-month-old. "I am trying to live as nature intended in many ways, and breastfeeding is one of them," she says. "However, I had to learn that there are a lot of ignorant people in the world. I don't blame them, they don't have the knowledge or never went through this. I'm just trying to find a beautiful way to go back to the roots, and to show what mother's inner voice tells her while she's breastfeeding."
In her series, which she describes as "very goddessy," women are photographed while sharing a moment with their children, ranging in age from infants to nearly four years old. With this project, she hopes that women will be able to not only be themselves and be the mothers they want to be, but that all women will have the right to breastfeed anywhere and anytime.
Check out a few of our favorites photos below:
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Photos courtesy of Ivette Ivens