It doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense that something like breastfeeding could be considered controversial (I mean, it’s literally what breasts are meant for); but it’s still a pretty polarizing topic. Women who breastfeed in public are often told to cover up, or to feed their kids in public bathrooms (um, no thanks). Meanwhile, women who give their children bottles of formula are told they should be breastfeeding them (because “breast is best”), even though that’s not always possible or realistic for every woman. And even though it really isn’t anyone else’s business how a mother chooses to feed her child, the reality is that one way or another, most women feel judged no matter what they do.
The stigma surrounding breastfeeding is totally unfair (and honestly, pretty ridiculous), but that’s also why one mom’s recent Instagram breastfeeding photo is making such a powerful statement. After recently giving birth to twin boys, celeb makeup artist Joyce Bonelli posted a photo showing her tandem nursing her sons, and let me tell you, it’s pretty incredible.
In the photo — which currently has over 67K likes and counting — the proud new mom can be seen sitting in a chair with each of her little boys nursing in a football hold on each side of her. Bonelli captioned the photo “GODDESS VIBES LIKE NO OTHER” and shared that, despite the difficulty of having two babies at once, she’s embracing it as much as she can.
“Pulling that inner most deepest strength while you feel as though you have none left to give,” she wrote. “Weak and tired, pain unknown, exhaustion unreal, and you still stand up. TWINS — this is no joke! I surprise myself in my own ability to adjust and rise to the occasion. While being still in my chaos I love so much and pull through for my babies. I as a mother will do anything to provide for my babies. No Matter My Fear. Never give up, Keep the strength. Dig even deeper if you must.”
Although Bonelli’s post is pretty inspirational in general, as a mom of twins myself, it feels so unbelievably important, and is definitely something that I wish I could have seen when I was pregnant. That’s because although I knew I wanted to at least try to breastfeed my children when they were born, the truth was I secretly felt uncomfortable with the idea. Like many women, I’d spent years internalizing the idea that breasts are sexual and that nudity is taboo — not to mention the overarching sense that women who breastfeed in front of others are making everyone feel weirded out. And even though I knew that none of that was actually true, I had a really hard time not letting it affect the way I felt.
When my twins were born though, they came so prematurely that I didn’t even have the option to breastfeed them for almost two months. When they were finally big enough and strong enough to feed directly instead of through a feeding tube, I was totally ready to breastfeed them, and decided to push past my own insecurities to do so (learning to breastfeed my children in the NICU meant pretty much every nurse and doctor saw my boobs at some point). But even though I was able to get over my initial hesitation, one thing I just couldn’t get on board with was tandem nursing.
Tandem nursing — aka, feeding one baby on each breast simultaneously — is totally awesome in theory. It’s super efficient, and, hey, I have two breasts, so why not use them? But feeding two babies at once is trickier to master than one baby at a time, and there’s really no way to even attempt to cover up or be discreet (not that anyone should have to). Plus, while breastfeeding one baby looks like little more than a blissful moment of cuddling and closeness, breastfeeding two babies made me feel like a cow with her calves, or like some kind of human milking machine.
So I gave up, and never tried it again.
The thing is, the fact that I even felt weird tandem nursing probably could have been avoided if it was something that I’d seen more often. Don’t get me wrong, breastfeeding in general still has a long way to go before it’s something that no one bats an eye at. But unless you or someone you know has had twins (or has breastfed more than one child at a time), you might not even realize tandem breastfeeding is a thing. And you also probably haven’t seen someone actually do it.
When I look at Bonelli’s photo, I feel kind of disappointed to think about how uncomfortable I felt trying to do what she did. She is totally owning tandem feeding — she even put it on Instagram! — and honestly, she has every right to, just like every breastfeeding mother does. I can’t say that if I could go back, I suddenly wouldn’t feel weird about it, but I might at least try harder to fight back against that feeling. And hopefully Bonelli’s photo will serve as a reminder to all the other twin moms or twin-moms-to-be that they can own their own breastfeeding experiences too; and maybe even share their own amazing breastfeeding selfies to help show other women that they have absolutely nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
The stigma surrounding breastfeeding might be totally unfair, but the more moms like Bonelli share their own experiences, the more it empowers others to do the same. And from one twin mom to another, I am so, so glad that she did.More On