Moms Take a Bold Stand to Normalize Breastfeeding
Eight Filipino moms have taken on the challenge of being photographed and filmed while nursing their children with little clothes on in a bid to encourage more women to breastfeed—even in public—without shame. Photos and video of the campaign dubbed #GoBreastfeedBoldly were published recently on GoBreastfeed.com, a recently launched website that aims to educate and empower parents to breastfeed and the people around them to support it.
“There is power in the image of a breastfeeding mother. It can inspire another mother to breastfeed her child. Or it can tell people that breastfeeding is normal. It is an act of infant feeding and not an indecent display of flesh,” Kate Delos Reyes, GoBreastfeed.com creator and editor said.
Delos Reyes is a trained breastfeeding peer counselor and a mother to a breastfed three-year-old. She is also the former country editor of Yahoo Philippines. She was among the women shot for #GoBreastfeedBoldly by photographer Apy Arevalo.
The campaign also included portraits of Katrina Ambion, Armi Baticados, Cheryl Chan-Wong, Bing Guevara, Vanessa Librero, Claire Mogol, and Kaice Romero with their respective children.
“I am happy to have been a part of this worthwhile project, which allowed me to creatively portray women who promote breastfeeding boldly. I believe these images can change society's negative perceptions about breastfeeding,” Arevalo said.
#GoBreastfeedBoldly was launched in time for the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August and amid slow-improving breastfeeding statistics in the Philippines. UNICEF and government data show that only 54 percent of Filipino babies are put to the breast within an hour after birth, and only 34 percent are exclusively breastfed during the first six months.
Delos Reyes thinks that wider breastfeeding awareness will radically advance child health. “Educating parents about its benefits is key to successful breastfeeding. But making the society more open-minded and supportive is just as crucial,” she said.
Apart from their photos published in the website, Delos Reyes and the other women who joined the campaign also shared personal stories of body acceptance as filmed by Javinchi Studios.
“Contrary to what I expected, there was no awkward moment while filming these women. Being a breastfeeding mom myself, I’m proud to be part of such an inspiring project. Brave women can truly be instruments of change,” said videographer Jacel Ann Chiu of Javinchi Studios.
“This campaign speaks to many women who feel insecure about their bodies, more so when they became mothers. It also reaches out to Filipinos who are inclined to judge women when they nurse in public,” Delos Reyes said.
A 2014 survey commissioned by a local beauty brand showed that 93 percent of Filipino women don’t like how they look. Meanwhile, a 2009 study published in the Philippine Journal of Science also found that six out of 10 poor Filipino women were not satisfied with their bodies.
“#GoBreastfeedBoldly champions breastfeeding in public and body acceptance, which go hand in hand. Women who feel confident about their bodies are likely to breastfeed in public without hesitation,” Delos Reyes said.