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10 Powerful Images Of Breastfeeding Mothers, From The Renaissance To 2011

By ceridwen |

Self-portrait by adult film star Madison Young, 2011

These paintings, sculptures and photographs of women breastfeeding have all stopped me in my tracks at some point over the last year or so. I started a file called “Multitasking Mothers,” where I saved these images. Some are inspired by Greek mythology– who knew Hercules got his supernatural strength from divine breastmilk? Others show nursing mothers as symbols of patriotism; some are comments on sexuality and the body. All of them deal in some way with a woman’s unique ability to nurture. It’s fascinating to see how ideas about breastfeeding shift from 1511 to 2011. Here are my ten favorites:

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10 Powerful Images Of Breastfeeding Mothers, From The Renassaince To 2011

"Abundance", Bologne, Italy, ca. 1500

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About ceridwen



Ceridwen Morris is a writer, mother, and certified childbirth educator. She is the author of several books and screenplays, including (Three Rivers; 2007). She serves on the board of The Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York and teaches at Tribeca Parenting in New York City. Read bio and latest posts → Read Ceridwen's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “10 Powerful Images Of Breastfeeding Mothers, From The Renaissance To 2011

  1. Nadia says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Breastfeeding is such a beautiful, natural thing. I love it! :)

  2. Puddintang says:

    It really boggles my mind how Madison Young can try to “mangle our associations about breasts, sexuality and motherhood”. Right after this picture was taken, she no doubt handed her kid off to the nanny so she could finish filming her latest smut, which pushes breasts as sexual objects and objectifies women. It’s because of women like her that young girls think breastfeeding is “yucky”. Because they’ve been fed the edict that breasts are strictly sexual objects and if you breastfeed, then somehow you’re doing something sexual to your own child. “Madison”, you’re a hypocrite!

  3. wendi says:

    i totally agree with you puddintang”. ? nice name.. weird. breastfeeding is one of the most awesomeist things a women can do besides give birth. that is so weird because i didnt know who the women was but i saw the picture and it looked like she belonged in porn just by her body language and how breastfeeding didnt look like it was an amazing bond to her. like there really wasn’t a baby that she was holding.. not a life but an object. kinda makes me sick..

  4. mccn says:

    I’m sorry to hear you think we can decide who “belong[s] in porn just by her body language” or how she feels about nurturing her child from a single photograph. I don’t know anything about the woman or how she raises her child, but work in pornography and sex work is work too, and I don’t see a reason to decide a human being is somehow less than the rest of us because of the kind of work she does. Thinking and speaking like this hurts all of us. I rather would support women who do all kinds of work standing up for all of our ability to make the choices that are right for them – and for braving nasty personal attacks like the ones Wendi and Puddintang have posted in order to do so.

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