A group of black mothers have come together to pose for a stunning breastfeeding photo shoot that aims to normalize nursing in the African American community.
The nine women who posed topless for the powerful series of images are members of Chocolate Milk Mommies, a parenting group in Birmingham, Alabama, that aims to end the stigma surrounding breastfeeding.
‘It is taboo within the African American home to breastfeed your child, let alone to do it past the age of one,’ Rauslyn Adams, a 26-year-old member of the group, told People.
Powerful: Nine black mothers posed for a breastfeeding photo shoot that aims to normalize nursing in the African American community
Mother nature: Ashlei Goodwiing was photographed nursing her daughter Zoei Marie while they wore matching gold crowns
‘Breastfeeding has been seen by some African American women as reverting to “slavery days” when feeding a child by breast was the only option,’ she explained.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests black mothers ‘may need more, targeted support to start and continue breastfeeding,’ as black infants have the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration.
The Chocolate Milk Mommies group came to be after Angel Warren shared a Facebook open call looking for nursing mothers who would like to pose for a breastfeeding shoot.
The images taken by local photographer Lakisha Cohill see the mothers posing on rocks topless while breastfeeding their children, who range from infants to toddlers.
The moms are dressed all in black and wearing gold crowns to honor the shoot’s ‘goddess’ theme, and one photo sees Ashlei Goodwiing cradling her daughter Zoei Marie, who has her own tiny gold crown.
Strike a pose: The pictures taken by local photographer Lakisha Cohill see the mothers posing on rocks topless while breastfeeding their children
Although the purpose of the shoot is to encourage black mothers to breastfeed, Rauslyn pointed out that there is still a stigma for all nursing moms, regardless of their race.
‘Feeding a child in public from the breast is often seen as indecent and given a perverse sexual connotation,’ she explained.
‘The indecency claims of public breastfeeding generalizations make it hard for any woman, let alone an African American woman, to nurture her child through breastfeeding.’
She also made it clear that the group doesn’t frown upon anyone who has chosen not to breastfeed, they are just trying to raise awareness for the women in their community.
Mommy and me: The women posed for a selfie with the photographer during the ‘goddess’-themed shoot
Coming together: ‘This photo was for awareness, for all the women who don’t have support in breastfeeding,’ Rauslyn Adams, a 26-year-old member of the group, explained
Rauslyn told Yahoo that one of the mothers in the group is still feeding her two-year-old child and has been shamed for it.
‘This photo was for awareness, for all the women who don’t have support in breastfeeding,’ she said.
Meanwhile, Charity Moore, 26, offered advice to fellow mothers who have faced criticism for breastfeeding their children in public.
‘You have the natural and legal right to breastfeed your baby in whatever manner you see fit: covered, uncovered, in private, in public,’ she stressed.
‘Never let anyone else and their views dictate the choices you make for yourself and your baby.’