As any parent knows, newborns need to eat a lot to keep fuel in those tiny tummies. For breastfeeding mamas, that can translate to nursing sessions anywhere, any time of day—which can make it feel like a full-time job.
These mamas have been super honest about their breastfeeding journeys, proving that while breastfeeding is beautiful, it can also be challenging, boring or require a lot of multitasking.
Ashley Graham is being shamed for sharing breastfeeding pics and that's not okay
Breastfeeding takes a lot of time and energy. We see a lot of stock photos of moms staring down serenely at their baby during nursing sessions but in real life, sometimes breastfeeding doesn't make for a perfect picture.
That's why we love the snaps model Ashley Graham posts of her breastfeeding journey. Sometimes she's looking at her phone and sometimes her baby is squeezing a little too tight (it happens!). Basically, she shows that breastfeeding can be beautiful...but also boring or painful.
She gets that sometimes in early motherhood, breastfeeding can feel isolating, and that's why she uses her Instagram account to normalize it. It's unfortunate that lately, commenters have been shaming Graham for that.
After Graham 'grammed some shots from a poolside nursing session recently one commenter wrote: "Nothing wrong with breastfeeding, but putting a intimate moment out for the gram is just completely unnecessary."
Another wrote: "I agree. Breastfeeding is such a natural gift. Putting it out for everyone to see isn't necessary."
The disapproving comments go on and on, and some get really mean.
Maybe for those commenters, breastfeeding isn't something they do in public or show online. That is a totally valid choice, but people can make that choice for themselves without tearing into a mama who chooses to be more public about breastfeeding's beauty and hardships.
Another commenter on Graham's photos wrote "It baffles me how many WOMEN are bothered by this", but the truth is almost 30% of women do not believe new moms should be allowed to breastfeed (or pump) in public.
People need to respect moms who choose to use covers or breastfeed in privacy, but since, legally, moms can breastfeed in public in every state, people need to respect moms like Graham, too.
Bekah Martinez is tandem nursing after supplementing
After Bekah Martinez welcomed her first child in February 2019 she quickly learned that added stress did not help her milk supply. So the busy mom just did what she needed to do to make feeding as low-stress as possible.
"I don't pump unless I'm at school," Martinez said at the time. "I supplement with formula on these days so I don't put pressure on myself to produce enough milk for when I'm gone."
It worked out great for Martinez, who is still nursing her oldest, Ruthy (who is only a year and a half old) and her baby Franklin, who was born in June 2020.
"In case you were wondering how the breast-feeding is going," Martinez captioned an Instagram slideshow showing her tandem nursing skills with her toddler and newborn.
From supplementing to tandem nursing, Martinez is proving a point that researchers have made in studies: Giving some formula doesn't have to mean the end of breastfeeding.
Caterina Scorsone breastfeeding on the set of Grey’s Anatomy
The set of Grey's Anatomy is a breastfeeding-friendly workplace, according to Grey's star (and Motherly podcast guest) Caterina Scorsone.
"Nursing my baby at work. This is what feminist infrastructure looks like; workplaces that support working women, families, children and their development," she captioned this post published on her Instagram feed in February 2020.
"While also beautiful, breasts are miraculous tools for nourishment and motherhood rather than solely sexualized objects of the male gaze. For any women who are hurting, I deeply and lovingly hope that you can release and heal any shame you have accepted or taken on as a result of your feeding choices. And for the women who want to breastfeed but feel self conscious about it, I hope you can feel free and excited to nourish your baby in a way that has fantastic health benefits for you both," she wrote it a previous Instagram post.
Christina Anstead's postpartum selfie is peak #momlife
Have you ever looked at a social media post from a new mom and wondered how she could look so put together and perfect despite having just had a baby? If so, you're not alone. The perfectly staged photos of new mothers posing with their impeccably dressed babies in their spotlessly neat homes are pretty common these days. And while they're lovely to look at, sometimes they can leave other new mamas wondering why their own realities don't look so idyllic. That's why we love when a new mother shows the messy side of new motherhood — and Christina Anstead just joined those ranks.
Christina, who welcomed baby Hudson London in 2019 gave us all a look at her new mom reality, and the unfiltered image shows something many of know all about: Leaky breasts.
In the photo, Christina lies in bed wearing a nursing tank with coloring foils in her hair. She's holding her baby, and you can clearly see a wet spot on her tank top. We all know this is way too real — leaky breasts are par for the course for new moms, even though no one seems to warn you about this!
Christina captions the photo "#MOMLIFE". Both her husband and her followers are loving the image. "☺️👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼🔥🔥 love this! Love you! Cutest leaky boob mumma ever x," husband Ant Anstead writes. A follower adds "Out of all the pictures I've seen of you this is actually my favorite and you look the most beautiful! You're so in your element.!💜".
We're right there with them: This photo of Christina is real and relatable, and we love that she's showing the incredible multitasking moms do every single day. And she's practicing self-care by coloring her hair, which is wonderful to see (be sure to take care of yourself, mama! Whether that means sitting down to eat a nice, hot meal or having your hair done).
New motherhood is beautiful, but it's certainly not perfect. Unwashed hair, days-old clothes, serious under-eye bags, a messy home and, yes, leaky breasts are all part of the phase — and we love that this famous mama is showing that.
Jessie James Decker is a backseat breastfeeder
By the time her third child was born, Jessie James Decker had a few tricks up her sleeve when it came to breastfeeding on the go—including how to get situated in the backseat of the car to nurse her son while he was strapped into the car seat.
Decker doesn't recommend mamas go without a seatbelt like she did, but sometimes, a bad day out with the baby calls for extreme measures. When little Forrest couldn't stop crying on the way home from his mama's photo shoot, his mama did what she had to do.
"I hopped in the back seat with Forrest and fed him with boob out leaned awkwardly over the car seat to calm him down," Decker says. "On the way home I cried, I got stressed and anxiety, and I was just a mom trying to do my best just like we all are no matter the situation."
Ali Wong says “breastfeeding is a blast”
Some #breastfeeding posts on Instagram remind us that breastfeeding is beautiful. But comedian Ali Wong's breastfeeding posts remind us that (just like motherhood in general) there are times that it doesn't feel so beautiful (and that's okay).
"Breastfeeding is a blast," she sarcastically captioned a photo of herself during a nursing session.
In her Netflix special Wong joked that "Breastfeeding is brutal. It is chronic physical torture. I thought it was supposed to be this beautiful bonding ceremony… Breastfeeding is this savage ritual that just reminds you that your body is a cafeteria now! It don't belong to you no more."
Wong's humor is refreshingly honest and reminds the rest of us that it's okay if breastfeeding doesn't feel beautiful all the time.
Amy Schumer is pumping with no shame
When Amy Schumer went back to work two weeks after giving birth to her son, some internet commenters were quick to dish out mom shame, suggesting that she needed to "at least let the stitches dissolve first."
In the comments section of her Instagram post, Schumer joked "I've always wanted to be mom shamed!!!!"
The next day she posted a photo of herself pumping breastmilk and captioned it "sending out love to the moms shaming me for doing standup last night!"
Schumer went back to work because she loves what she does, but many moms go back to work and pump because they have to—and nobody should be shamed for that.
Some mamas pump at work, some nurse at home and some fill bottles with formula to send to day care. We may do things differently but we're all doing our best.
Tia Mowry nurses with love
Tia Mowry's breastfeeding story proves that mamas can have totally different experiences with different children. She wasn't able to nurse her son Cree for long, but found it easier with her daughter Cairo.
Six weeks after Cairo's birth Mowry wrote on Instagram: "Wasn't able to breastfeed Cree for long because of low milk supply! However, this time around I have plenty. Lots of teas, water, #fenugreek, and a high protein diet has contributed! More importantly, say no to stress!! I'm able to pump 12 ounces alone in the morning for my little brown suga!"
Hilary Duff knows her limits
When Hilary Duff announced that she was done breastfeeding her daughter Banks, we supported her choice.
"I am a working mom of two. My goal was to get my little girl to six months and then decide if I (and her of course) wanted to keep going. Let me tell you. Pumping at work sucks," Duff wrote on Instagram.
"I needed a break. I was going to break," she writes. "With the stress of a dropping milk supply and a baby that was getting bored or not caring about nursing when I was available to. I was sad and frustrated and feeling like a failure all of the time. When really I'm a bad ass rock star."
Deciding to stop breastfeeding is a valid choice and we appreciate Duff's honesty.
Pink takes a hike
Sometimes mamas need to stop breastfeeding, and sometimes they need to find a way to just keep on going.
When son Jameson was a baby, Pink proved that breastfeeding didn't have to mean sitting at home in a glider. With some assistance from a baby carrier and a perfect position for Jameson, the multitasking mama was able to go about her hike like it was no big deal.
Chrissy Teigen teaches the next generation
When Chrissy Teigen's son Miles was still in that newborn stage and breastfeeding constantly, her oldest, daughter Luna, decided that mama should breastfeed her doll, too.
When she wasn't holding babies and dolls to her breasts she was holding pumps to them, because Chrissy isn't just the Queen of Twitter, she's the queen of multitasking.
Jessica Alba juggled work and breastfeeding
Jessica Alba is another multitasking mama who made the most of every minute of the day and every ounce of breast milk when her son Hayes was a newborn. She brought the little guy to board meetings at the Honest Company offices, breastfed him in Target fitting rooms and, like Duff, eventually decided to switch to formula.
"I felt like he wanted to nurse 24/7, which was obviously really challenging when you're trying to go back to work," Alba told Motherly in 2018.
She wasn't just busy with the Honest Company in the early weeks and months of Hayes' life, but also shooting her TV series with Gabrielle Union, 'LA's Finest.' The timing of the opportunity wasn't ideal, but the project was.
"I was actually bummed about it, I really did want to take four months but I got the pilot offer and it just happened to be shooting, so it cut into my maternity leave," she said.
"Also my milk supply was challenged with him. I felt like I had the most milk with Honor [her oldest daughter] and then it got less with Haven [her middle child] and even less with Hayes. And so that was just tough for me," she explained.
Thandie Newton proves mamas can breastfeed anywhere
Mothers in America are often challenged about their right to breastfeed in public, but actress Thandi Newton's throwback Insta post shows that moms is a great reminder that mothers in America are free to breastfeed anywhere, whenever they need to.
American mothers "have the right to breastfeed your baby wherever and whenever your baby is hungry," according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Office on Women's Health.
"This is what my body is made for. And the rest is my choice. #Freedom," Newton captioned her nursing selfie.
Eva Longoria Baston breastfed while making TV
Eva Longoria has an amazing career as an actress, producer and director, and she's also a first-time mom who has spent the last year breastfeeding on set.
"Here are pics of me directing while breastfeeding Santi during filming of @GrandHotelABC," Eva captions her post. "Women multitask everyday & I was lucky to have an amazing crew & cast that supported my new motherhood + career goals!"
The fact that she shared this look at her life with her followers means a lot to moms everywhere who are struggling with endless feedings, taking care of a million things at once, and public breastfeeding in a society that doesn't always normalize the act.
She's totally right: Having supportive colleagues helps a ton. Research shows that support from colleagues is essential for moms when it comes to pumping and nursing at work.
Gisele Bündchen 'grammed her breastfeeding glam session
In 2013, the super model proved she's also a super mama by multitasking a full-on beauty session while breastfeeding. Recognizing what a team effort it was, Bündchen captioned the post, "What would I do without this beauty squad after the 15 hours of flying and only three hours of sleep."
Tess Holliday was inspired by her fellow supermodel mama
Tess Holliday followed in Gisele's footsteps after her youngest was born, posting this photo to Instagram. It that proves that breastfeeding mamas can not only multitask, but also don't have to conform to certain body ideals to look amazing postpartum. Any size, any shape, any time, anywhere—breastfeeding mothers like Holliday are normalizing breastfeeding and our bodies
Padma Lakshmi proves you don't need a team
Without a beauty squad on call, Lakshmi took her multitasking to "level 💯" by using a nursing pillow to free up her two hands. It takes a brave woman to attempt mascara while breastfeeding, but the Top Chef host clearly pulls it off.
Whether a mama is trying to feed her baby on the go or while she's getting glam, it isn't always easy.Motherhood is about trying to do your best even when it feels like 100 things are going on at the same time—and yet we manage, like the super mamas we are.
Whether a mama is trying to feed her baby on the go or while she's getting glam, it isn't always easy. Motherhood is about trying to do your best even when it feels like 100 things are going on at the same time—and yet we manage, like the super mamas we are.
[This post was originally published June 12, 2018. It has been updated.]