Moms in all kinds of circumstances breastfeed their babies, and photographer Vanessa Simmons has captured numerous amazing images showing the diversity of nursing mothers in her Normalize Breastfeeding project. Her recent photos of breastfeeding women in the Army, Navy and Air Force, which Simmons took while she was on tour in Washington, D.C., are especially powerful.
"I am inspired by their stories," she told us. "I am impressed by their bravery in the midst of mothering, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share the images that I have captured."
So are we!
But sadly, Simmons says many military moms are struggling to find support to continue nursing and pumping on the job. In fact, the first time she photographed an active duty mom nursing was back in March 2015. But when she posted a sneak peek of the shoot on Facebook, the haters came out in full force.
"The image got SLAMMED with hate and negativity from other servicemen," she told us. "Because the response was so disappointing and this active duty mama was on the verge of discipline for taking the photos, she decided to hold off on posting her breastfeeding story. Several months passed and I was then contacted for use of my image by our local ABC10 News."
The resulting spot showed support for the breastfeeding military mama. And soon others reached out to Simmons on social media and through her partnership with Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, a nonprofit that sponsors her tour and advocates for all military moms (active or otherwise) who wish to nurse while serving their country.
These images are nothing short of amazing, and Simmons says it is now her hope that by sharing them, people will see the tenacity and resilience of these women.
"I hope that others recognize the difficulty at hand for every mother to breastfeed their baby," she explained. "Yet I also hope that they see the strength of the women who serve our country while serving their families simultaneously."
We do, too.