The Art of Breastfeeding

I was recently sent a book called The Art of Motherhood from Getty Publications. I love this book. I love art, modern or classic, painting or sculpture. I especially love paintings of people and trees…I love how an artist translates facial expressions to canvas. Sometimes I get chills.

Anyway, back to this book. I really enjoyed flipping through this book. It’s a collection of paintings depicting motherhood along with some fantastic quotes. It’s really lovely. I will likely be running a spread about it in an upcoming issue.

So I was working on an article about breastfeeding, and I immediately thought of this book. I started flipping through it and tagged every page featuring a mom breastfeeding her baby. It made me excited to do this, I mean it’s obvious to say that breastfeeding has been around since the beginning of time – otherwise we wouldn’t be around today to talk about it, but it made me excited to wonder if anyone expected this mom to cover up:

La Charité 1518


© Musée du Louvre/A. Dequier – M. Bard

I was excited, but it also made me kind of sad to think of what our society has done to breastfeeding. How it’s such a controversial issue for some. To breastfeed, or not to breastfeed? Is her milk good enough? Can a mom breastfeed in public? If she chooses to breastfeed in public, should she cover up? Is that baby to old to breastfeed? I don’t get it.

I’d like to see someone try to tell this lady that she shouldn’t be breastfeeding, and these babies most certainly are walking, eating solids & they probably speak in full sentences:

The Republic 1848

Honoré Daumier

Paris, Musée d’Orsay ( donation by Etienne Moreau-Nélaton, 1906© photo RMN, Hervé Lewandowski

You’re baby is hungry, feed your baby. Your baby is fussy, hold your baby to your breast. It’s such a beautiful thing really. Why anybody would have a problem with a mom feeding her baby – no matter where she is, or no matter how she chooses to do it – is beyond me, it’s a good thing people!

In the Land of Promise, Castle Garden 1884

Charles Frederic Ulrich

I understand that breastfeeding does come with its downsides, but so does everything. I understand that sometimes it’s hard to get started, but if you persevere – in most cases – it will be easy. We’re quite lucky to have lactation consultants to help us, and to have access to so much information.

One of my favourites is this sculpture from sixth century BC – she doesn’t have a head, but she’s breastfeeding twins:

Mother Goddess

Sixth Century B.C.

Paolo Orsi Museum, Siracusa, Italy

I like how this book brought it back to basics for me. Do you have a favourite piece of art depicting breastfeeding or motherhood? I’d love to see it.

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