This Mom's Tandem Breastfeeding Photo Sparked a Heated Debate

This simple family moment of a mom breastfeeding her two daughters at once spurred a debate online.
Image by Mae Burke

Mom Chelsea Craig wasn't trying to make any kind of statement in the moment she decided to tandem breastfeed her two daughters, ages 3 years and 8 months. The girls simply got hungry during a photo shoot, and Craig decided to feed them. The resulting images, however, have caused a stir online after Texas-based family photographer Mae Burke shared them.

One comment to BuzzFeed's coverage of the photos reads, "Most people aren't anti breastfeeding, it's natural and we get that. What annoys people is the exhibitionism and sense of entitlement attached to it these days."

Another commenter said, "Why would you get a photoshoot of breastfeeding? For the record, I'm not against breastfeeding. But a photoshoot? Is breastfeeding glamorous these days? Or an event that needs documenting?"

Here's another gem: "I don't care what you people say, breastfeeding a child that can already eat by itself is disgusting."

But Craig told The Huffington Post, "The responses from everyone who knows me has been overwhelmingly positive. As can be expected, the responses from the masses have been mixed."

She says she quickly learned to avoid reading the comments on the photo, adding, "Many people assume I am seeking out attention and that is why I had these published. Truth is, these pictures were never planned. It was an organic moment in a motherhood shoot that has memorialized a beautiful moment between my daughters and I. Like I have said, I am not nursing for any purpose [other] than to meet the needs (first nutritionally and now emotionally) of my daughters."

Still, Craig thinks it's a shame mothers are so readily criticized in today's society. "I believe the vast majority of us are doing what we believe to be best for our children, and that is what is most important. I am confident in my choices, and as I have said, I do not think they are best for everyone, but they work for us. Some women have found strength and confidence in their choices as a result of these photos and the conversations that have spurred. For that, I am grateful. We should be lifting each other up, and I am happy to have taken part in that."

For her part, Burke has said, "I take pictures that are very candid moments, and if their children happen to want or need to breastfeed, then I just keep taking pictures like I normally would."

In other words, moments like this really aren't that big of a deal. Yet, at the same time, they are everything.

Because as moms, we can't live our lives caring what other people think about our parenting choices every minute, whether they have to do with how we feed our children, or how and when we put them to bed. As this brave mama says, as long as we are doing what we feel is best for our own families, we are doing a great job.

I applaud Craig for unapologetically putting her mothering style out there; sometimes I wish I could be so courageously outspoken about the fact that I never breastfed any of my three children. So there you have it: the opposite end of the spectrum. And somewhere in between are all the parents and non-parents who will have an opinion about both of us. And no, I won't be reading the comments.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.

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