Are you a breastfeeding goddess or real life breastfeeder?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend shared with me news of the photography book “Breastfeeding Goddesses” by Ivette Ivens, due for release in conjunction with her forthcoming exhibition “I Breastfeed my Toddler”.  I haven’t got permission to publish the photos here, but you can take a peek at some of the photos found within here.

The idea of the book is that “Breastfeeding can be messy, uncomfortable, and even painful at times”. Ok so no big revelations there. So what’s my beef?

It’s the second part of its objective I have a problem with…

“….but the mother’s inner consciousness tells another story. The images in this book depict the way each woman feels while nursing…pure, beautiful, saintly, celestial. She is a beauty in an ancient mural. A powerful miracle in the snow. A golden ray on the snow.”

…..errrr come again?

Don’t get me wrong, once we finally got the knack of it, I absolutely loved breastfeeding my little girl, and the special deep-rooted beauty of it, but saintly? celestial? an ancient mural? These were definitely NOT things I felt during pretty much any of our feedings, no matter what time of the day or night. I was just lost in the moment. WHO ARE THESE WOMEN??!

My problem is, that if this book is supposed to make people realize that breastfeeding is a normal process of life – which is most certainly is and I can’t fault that – then perhaps the photos should look a little less like the mothers just fell down from the heavens?

Mothers have a hard enough time feeling totally unglamorous, especially when one of their breasts is spewing milk angrily like a geyser. In my view, what we need to see is more of are these kind of wonderfully, unstylised shots which were recently Tweeted to me by photographer Josh Ross of Josh Ross Creative, which to me, convey the message that breastfeeding is a natural part of life far more appropriately than the stylized shots found in Breastfeeding Goddesses.

With the recent trend for #Brelfies, there seems to be a newfound interest in the aesthetics of breastfeeding, and I say, anything that goes towards making mothers feel more comfortable breastfeeding openly in public can only be a good thing, but let’s just make sure we keep it real, rather than adding to any unnecessary pressure of looking celestial yeah?

So are you a breastfeeding goddess or real life breastfeeder? I am guessing I know the answer to that one…


  1. Love this Talya. Will be putting it on my facebook page ‘The Guilt Free Guide To Motherhood’ as this is such a worthwhile conversation. I am all for supporting breast feeding and making it easier. After all it is the most natural thing ever. However the idealisation of mothers in general does us no favours in the long run. We are normal human beings and we find some parts of mothering wonderful and others less so. Great post

  2. Absolutely not a goddess, here. Breastfeeding is normal, natural, wonderful…yes, but just as you said, we mamas have a hard enough time without also attempting to see ourselves as celestial or saintly! 😛 I’m not a fan of photography that makes nursing seem like something it’s not. Thanks for this!

  3. Interesting post. I didn’t really respond to the pics in the visceral way you did. I can see why you would feel the way you do – you’ve been very open in your blogs about the shock of expectation verses reality of lots of aspects of motherhood. To be devils Advocate: I see them as very beautiful and challenging art pieces that are exploring issues of feminity and motherhood and identity. As such I don’t feel their purpose is about undermining how mothers’ feel about themselves as breastfeeders. I do see your point about giving prospective mothers a false vision but equally, while the spiritual language you reference is not how I describe my own experience, for some that language IS appropriate and reflective of their experience. If all women’s voices as mothers count then so do the extreme ones whose experience is very positive and uplifting and perhaps is not representative of the majority. And any images of breastfeeding I feel are worthy as there are so few! Absolutely we need more normal, everyday images. These pics would then not be so challenging or controversial. I do feel frustration that there are those who experience great births or breastfeeding but feel they have to keep quiet because they’re upsetting others who compare there own experience against them. There should be room for all.

    • I really love what you have said about them being a work of art but I guess my problem is that it is often the more glamorous images, not everyday images that are shared. I agree there should be room for all but I find it all very disproportionate as it stands which is probably what fuelled this post!

      • I totally agree about disproportionate images. Ridiculous that so many natural, normal images of breastfeeding are censored on facebook, for example, yet highly sexualised images (page 3!) are an everyday occurrence. Maybe I should do a selfie of double breastfeeding my toddlers and see what reaction it gets…! But I’m not that brave nor want to expose my private life to that degree!

  4. I was a goddess! No, to be honest, I didn’t really like breastfeeding. I didn’t actively dislike it, it was just another thing I had to do for my baby and it was convenient. I felt a bit naughty for not having the whole celestial experience.

  5. I could not agree with you more. Breastfeeding is great now. My baby is 9 months and I feed morning and night. He knows what he is doing and because he is also getting food and formula I don’t stress about not knowing how much he has taken. The first few weeks in particular were really stressful. I spent hours feeding each day. I think i added it up one day and worked out that I spent more hours each day breastfeeding than I used to spend at my desk at work (8+). It was bonkers. I was anything but a breastfeeding Godness. In fact I was probably quite a stressed new mother with a sleeping baby latched onto my breast.
    I really don’t like this image that people portray of breastfeeding goddesses. The way to get more women to breastfeed is to paint the real picture: it is hard as hell, but it is good for your baby. The idealistic notion that breastfeeding was pure, saintly, beautiful made me feel like a failure (and I very nearly gave up). I was anything but pure, beautiful and saintly. I was stressed, tired, tearful and felt inadequate.

    Apologies for the ranty comment but this is #effitfriday

    Thank you for your post.

    • A brilliant well thought out rant in response to my rant. That’s what it’s all about after all? Yes I had such a tough time for 3 months trying to get the breastfeeding going, I was probably more like a possessed crazed woman than goddess but there you go!

  6. Real life breastfeeder. It was such a struggle in the beginning, I just wanted to feed my baby rather than look ethereal and beautiful. #efitfriday

  7. Real life breastfeeder here! Who is actually mid feed…

    They missed knackered off the list! Love this Rant. It’s already such an emotive topic I don’t see why people are pushing this even further It’s like creAting the chasm between formula fed and breast fed even more when in reality who cares as long as the baby is fed??

    Thanks for linking up with #effitfriday

    • I know, if people hushed down and just let everyone get on with whatever they need to do to make things work it would make this motherhood malarky a whole lot better! Goddess my ass. Loving this linky already thanks so much for hosting x

  8. uhmmmm… I have three children and I have known loads of breastfeeding mums and I can be honest I’ve never seen any of them looking like those pictures! I think the creative designer has taken just a bit of liberty in there as that is not real life breastfeeding as I know it! Thank you for linking on #effitfriday

  9. I haven’t seen the pictures, but I like the idea of being “celestial.” My favourite breastfeeding images are those of the Virgin Mary in Renaissance paintings where she’s squirting jets of milk across the room into some saint’s mouth. I was so impressed when I discovered that was actually possible.

  10. real life breast feeder…nothing celestial….gosh it was such a struggle in the beginning, the latching nightmare…..i was just happy to feed my child and move on….

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