What’s so scandalous about carrying/ feeding a human?

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I had posted one of these images from a series of maternity shots I had done with my favourite family photographer, Nicky Stowe (http://www.nickystowephotography.co.za) a few weeks ago on social media and was amazed at the range of reactions. A few people were very offended by me being in a bikini when 38 weeks pregnant.  Probably the same people who would now be offended if they saw me breastfeeding in a restaurant (which I often do – there’s no shame in breastfeeding my baby) and probably the same people who read magazines and take no notice of boobs being used to sell everything from insurance to burgers to cars.

Apparently, she felt that my child would be so embarrassed when she was a teenager that I posted the picture. I’m sure I’ll embarrass my children lots during their lifetimes by applauding too loudly at their school concerts after their small microscopic part in a play or hugging them when their friends are in eyeshot, but surely they would not be embarrassed by the picture? And if so, they’ll be strong enough to deal with it, I hope. Mom wore a swimsuit and won a pageant and fought for world peace 😉 But, in the process she learnt lots, became a stronger woman and worked hard to create a better life for herself and them.

Why does my pregnant body offend you? And why does feeding my baby in the most natural (and best) way for him/ her offend you? I’m not going to enter into the whole boxing-ring about breastfeeding in public (a debate which has been raging on for a while and which has become a huge topic of conversation lately). In my (not so humble) opinion, look the other way, if it offends you and allow me to comfort and feed my little baby. I cover myself and my baby while breastfeeding and the fact that you know what’s happening under my delicately draped scarf and that it nauseates you is your issue, not mine, nor my baby’s. The fact that your husband is staring is more indicative of an issue between you and him, not my baby and I. And the fact that I’m happy with myself and my body whilst carrying a human being and comfortable in a bikini at the beach (which is where they are worn by the rest of the population) is nothing which should upset you.

I breastfed our son for 20 months (yes, and I loved it!). I was very blessed to be able to and lucky that it was easy for me. Many people struggle to breastfeed and I am grateful that I was not one of them and I do sympathise with those who would love to and are unable to for whatever reason. Motherhood is a wonderful blessing. You learn a lot about yourself. And others. You accept people for who they are and yourself for who you learn you are and have become.

Lots of love and light,

xx Modern Mommy AKA MoMo AKA Jo-Ann 😉

P.S. I am giving away a BabySense Feeding shawl – it is a beautiful and practical piece – post your breastfeeding comment below and you can win one for yourself or gift it to an expectant mom.

 

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52 Comments

  1. Ariska Milne
    Tue, 03 May 2016
    Reply

    I loved reading this post! It’s so refreshing to see a mother who lives in the limelight stand up for something so important. I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding, anywhere and everywhere. I am also still breastfeeding our little girl (15 months old). Well done for speaking out and for encouraging other moms to do what feels right and natural to them.

  2. Heidi
    Tue, 03 May 2016
    Reply

    If I looked like that in a bikini at 38 weeks pregnant I would ware it ALL day EVERYDAY! You looked GORGEOUS!!!

    • ceejay
      Tue, 10 May 2016
      Reply

      So true Heidi! Those people are just Jelly ? and in the words of Tay Tay “haters are gonna hate” ? so u keep on rocking it!!!

  3. mantsane
    Tue, 03 May 2016
    Reply

    Enter Your Comment…believe me if I looked like that at 38 weeks I would go around naked.
    if we can eat in public what’s so different about feeding a baby in public.if they don’t like they can go an throw themselves over a cliff.. M going to breastfeed mine until their mouths get try..

  4. Ntsako
    Tue, 03 May 2016
    Reply

    Am on 27weeks and planning to have a kind of maternity photo shoot.I will be a first time mom and am proud to say i will be breastfeeding and running again since i would have missed my 4year comrades marathon this year.I cant wait for her arrival.

  5. carmen
    Tue, 03 May 2016
    Reply

    I absolutely love your post! Why cant people mind their own business and get on with their lives! The world is a cruel and messed up place ….someone pulled their noses up sat you performing a basic motherly function yet turns a blind eye to the homeless or poor….

    My advice to them: direct your energies at changing the world for the better …each to their own!

  6. Carla
    Tue, 03 May 2016
    Reply

    I breastfed my son for 22 months and I’m looking forward to starting that journey again with the next one later this year. So nice to bring this topic up for the uninformed people out there, not everything is about them and that’s something you learn being a parent.

  7. Tanya Smith
    Tue, 03 May 2016
    Reply

    Wow! That was very powerful. I’ve been reading about the uproar of breastfeeding in public and I don’t understand why people waste their energy like this. I am, as of this week, 12 weeks pregnant with my first baby. The excitement and joy I’m experiencing is so overwhelming. I feel blessed beyond words. I would like to share my blessing with the world, be it by showing off my teeny weeny baby bump, or if all goes well in the future, breastfeeding my baby in public, respectfully. Thank you for this blog. I am learning a lot and becoming more comfortable to live the way I would like, not the way society wants.
    Congratulations on the birth of your angel baby. Xoxo

  8. Gaseenah
    Tue, 03 May 2016
    Reply

    I just came across your blog & love what I’m reading, I have a 18Month old Son which I adore & still enjoy breastfeeding,it’s something so natural & beautiful. I don’t & will never understand why ppl has issues with breastfeeding a little human gifted from Almighty. You completely Rocked your photoshoot & like I always pray to Almighty to keep all negatively away from Me & my Family. #Moma4life

  9. Sheila Baloyi
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    You looked super gorgeous in that shoot. From your le agents to being a proud mom, people just have too many expectations which are really unknown. You rocked that pregnancy for me!
    Pregnancy treat everyone different. I bet the people are insecure of themselves. We can blame society for so much hate, comparison& lack of education in self appreciation,esteem& positivity.
    I find your blog so interesting & hope every woman start appreciating the beauty in all of us. It’s shocking how recent pics seems to be most socially liked if they depict the women’s behind elevated/looking more fake than a life giving pic. Always remember what we do for our kids privately/ publicly doesn’t need anyone’s approval. Thank you for tackling such issues& standing for what you believe in. I’m for breastfeeding anywhere & shawl or not, I will do it. And yes I will continue hiding my kids faces from all public nudity that I find unacceptable. The teaching will be beneficial for my kids.
    Soon to be mom to my 2nd baby?

  10. Danelle Hess
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    Thank you for your post and positive stance toward this issue!

    I had to stop breastfeeding my little girl at six months due to health reasons and struggled a bit in the beginning but in the end was so grateful that I got the chance to try (because I know so many mom’s who battled with breastfeeding).

    Breastfeeding in public was a bit scary at first but I always carried a scarf and threw it over myself and baby when in public. I often found people stared a lot and depending on the restaurant I was in so did the waiters… I remember being at an upmarket restaurant in Cape Town and having the waiter gawk at me quietly breastfeeding my baby in the corner. I didn’t have a breastfeeding shawl so always had to match big enough scarf to my outfit;) I’m so looking forward to breastfeeding again should I be blessed with another little human! As we like to try and get pregnant this year.

    Keep rocking breastfeeding Jo-Ann and good luck!

  11. Zaza
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    I have 4 children and struggled with breatfeeding the older 3 and so they were only bf for 4-6 months. With my last child I am exclusively bf for 19 months and sometimes she wants boob… In the waterfront… In Puma…. and I don’t have a cover with me. So I give it to her because ain’t nobody gonna make me feel guilty for giving my child the best start to life! #normalisebreastfeeding #coveryourselfifyou’reoffended

  12. Weane
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    Hi Jo-Ann I believe in breastfeeding yo as a mommy thats yore bonding time with yore baby I am still breastfeeding my boy is now 5years and I still feed him and give milk 2 the hospital for the baby ward and many say are yo mad…Strong Breastfeedding Mommy.

  13. Nicky Goliath
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    I am so taken by this post. Incident one day where I was feeding my baby, now two months old, in Edgars (while well covered) and a lady came up to me and asked me if I should be doing that here. I told her that my baby was hungry and when I am hungry and have a sandwich in my bag I eat it where ever I am so why could I not feed my hungry child who was crying to be fed. If she had to cry and not be fed i would would have been looked at strangely for not knowing how to keep my child quiet.
    I look up to you Jo-Ann. Why should the world come to an end because you feel comfortable feeding your baby in public or taking a picture in a bikini with a life inside of you. Thank you for clarifying it for the all the box minded people

  14. Sam
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    Hi Jo Ann,
    First, congrats on your daughter! Second, I must admit (in a good & positive way) that I never thought you would breastfeed because of being a supermodel and the cliché that is attached to all that, however, you are such an inspiration to all the women across SA and the World. You are giving only but the best to your kids (that I don’t have to tell you) and a benefit to your health as well. I breastfed my daughter for 24 months until she self-weaned. I breastfed my almost 3 year old boy for well, almost 3 years – his only starting to wean now and I’ve learnt to ignore the comments/remarks about how old he is. Deep down I knew he’d self-wean. Continue to empower women with this blog of yours and I salute you for not being shy and making it known that you breastfeed.
    My comment related to breastfeeding is “when in public and family, friends or strangers saw me breastfeeding, they’d ask ‘geez when are you going to stop breastfeeding”….I’d peep and smile at my baby, look up and say “mmmmmm in about 2 to 3 minutes or so”
    Would love to win this blanket for one of my closest friends due in June 🙂

  15. mbalenhle ntuli
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    I’m a first time mom and i remember the first time i breast fed my baby in public.I did not even think about it,i just did it instinctively when she started crying in the mall.I love doing it.It’s the most enjoyable time i share with her.Congratulations on your beautiful family Jo -ann!

  16. Lauren
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    I am pro breastfeeding and showing off ones preggy belly there is nothing to be ashamed of! I struggled to breast feed when my baby was born so I am very appreciative of the ability to give my baby the best nutrients possible. She will be 1 tomorrow and I still breastfeed. #normalisebreastfeeding #probreastfeeding #promodernmommy

  17. Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    i once breastfed my son at pick n pay whilst walking! (he was 2 months old and never allowed me to walk unless i did so.
    The stares i received where astounding, Birth is a miracle and so is breastfeeding the little miracle. its shocking how society views it as TABOO!

  18. Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    Thank you for your inspiring post, Jo-Ann. I am 18 weeks pregnant, and it is an endless debate within my circles. I don’t see anything that is offensive re breastfeeding. The baby HAS to eat. And I refuse to hide in a public toilet to breastfeed. Besides, I always ask the question – hoekom kyk jy?? I cannot wait to give birth to this little soldier and best believe, no person should come and give me dirty looks or make remarks my way. You will hear it from me 🙂 Those very people who are offended also enjoyed their breast milk from their mama’s boobs. Hulle moet net stilby en deal 🙂

  19. Jill
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    breast is best…. the only opinion that REALLY matters is your own.

  20. Candice Gain
    Wed, 04 May 2016
    Reply

    Go Team boobs! Unfortunately my 19 month old son self weaned at 12 months 🙁 I think he knew that I was pregnant with his brother before I did. I would long for a look or a side eye from someone while breastfeeding in public but either I never took note of people or no one bothered. It’s never been an issue for me, even before my son was born and I always try to rally and raise awareness about how natural it is amongst my friends and family…People need to get real, it’s been happening since the beginning of time and will continue forever…

  21. cassandra
    Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    Absolutely loved this post! My favourite part – “The fact that your husband is staring is more indicative of an issue between you and him,” People are so quick to project their insecurities onto others!

  22. Tshepiso
    Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    I love what you wrote on your blog about breastfeeding. I have a son who is turning 3 in June. One of the things I enjoyed doing was breastfeeding him. For me it was so fulfilling seeing enjoying being fed and also knowing that Im spending time with him in the whole process of breastfeeding. I have always encouraged my friends who gave birth after me to breastfeed. Im expecting my second baby in September and im looking forward to breastfeeding my angel.

  23. Moroesi
    Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    Some people have normalised the crude and obscene & have turned something so natural, innocent and necessary as feeding your child into something to be offended by. With the societal ills that we are currently plagued by breastfeeding should not feature anywhere near the word offensive. People need to get off their warped sense of what is right and wrong and accept that some women will breastfeed in public. I won’t starve my child because feeding him offends you.

  24. Ronell
    Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    I breastfed my eldest son for 4 years, and I loved it. I fed him going and coming down the escalators at malls, I fed him standing in the queue at Checkers and Shoprite. I fed him in the taxi, which commuted 14 – 16 people, I literally fed him everywhere. I fed him on the beach in the sand and I had admires. I loved breastfeeding it was the best thing ever! And whilst some women senselessly sell the view of their breasts for almost any advertisement, music video etc.. and they do worse things … showing your boob in public feeding your hungry child —- is PRICELESS! Unfortunately, my second son was born prematurely and I only breastfed him for a month, as my milk production was also affected by the “arteficial birth” experience of an induced labour. I was and still am heartbroken, he is now four years old and I still wish I could have breastfed him longer, there is a part of him that misses it too – at times, he asks me to take out my boob and he just lays in my arms holding my nipple in his mouth. Love your breasts whilst they still have milk in them, you’ll never be able to do anything to reverse this time of your life. Breastfeeding is a precious gift to both mother and child.

  25. Lynette Peters
    Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    well done Jo-ann and you are such an inspiration. x

  26. Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    I am in full support of you! Our babies deserve the best, and that included eating whenever and when ever they are hungry. I breastfeed my 6 month old at will and its the most rewarding feeling in the world knowing that I’m not only comforting him, but nurturing and giving him nutrition as well. Ignore those who stare and do what feels natural to you. And now that I’ve been back at work for 2 months, I value those precious moments with him even more.

  27. Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    People need to shut their mouth and mind their own business. Why do women always feel the need to bash and diminish other women?

  28. Eleanora Naidoo
    Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    You looked amazing!I am actually jealous of all moms who could breastfeed so comfortably.I hated it because I may have and still am suffering some degree of depression.I felt guilty and inadequate because of it.Its one of my most saddest times in my life.Well done to you.And your family is beautiful.

  29. Robyn-Leigh Peregrino
    Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    Do what you have to do… you eat and drink in public so why can’t your baby have his/her feeding in public.. #breastfeedingiskey….one day if God allows that I have a baby I would do the same… u one gorgeous mommy!

  30. Leah
    Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    You write “In my (not so) humble opinion”. I love your honest way that you are normalizing breastfeeding. We all should be contributing to making breastfeeding the social norm!

  31. Intisaar Jacobs
    Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    Firstly I must say, you look stunning in the photo shoot. Why breastfeeding needs to be such a heavy subject I don’t understand. I breastfed my first child till age 3 & I am still breastfeeding my second one who is now age 2. Both my babies just hated the bottle or any sort of dummy even formula. I was blessed with small boobs that has an endless supply of milk for my kids. It is a God given gift & we as mothers have every right to put that gift to use. If my breastfeeding anyone in public, then maybe them showing their face in public is offensive to me.., just saying..

  32. Letitia Mouton
    Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    Hi Jo-Ann,

    Love this post, i never had an issue breastfeeding my baby, i loved it. From day one it was easy for us until i found out at 4 months that he is highly allergic to cows milk.protein and had to stop breastfeeding. I remember i went for a run amd cried as i still wanted to, buy had to think of whats best for my baby. We are planning nr 2, and i pray that he/she will not habe that allergies so i can breastfeed for longer.

    Do whay makes yoi and your baby happy.

    Loved this post.
    Ta
    Letitia

  33. sharonne
    Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    I have picture of me breastfeeding my daughter when she wasa baby,as well as preggie bellly pics these pics andher scans are all in a collage & hanging on her bedroom wall.. No shame in being a mommy!

  34. Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    Jo-Ann Thank you for this blog! As a breastfeeding Mother, this post is so close to my heart. I am expecting my 3rd child in July – I breastfed for 27 months (Exclusively No milk bottles) I plan to do the same with my little Princess for as long as is needed. Yes my boobs belong to someone else, they become saggy but they will remind me what a privilege it was to have been blessed with the gift to be able to nurture my children the way nature intended. Thank you for always keeping it real!

  35. Mari Carstens
    Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    Great article – I agree with every word and sentiment! My little one is 14 months and by choice (hers not mine) is still exclusively breastfed. Yeah I haven’t heard of it before either!!! 🙂 We give her food every day since 6 months but we choose self-feeding instead of spoon feeding and she plays with it. Since last month and 12 teeth later she nibbles but then feeds the dogs. She is in perfect health (confirmed by the doctor) – taller and chubbier than her friends and she ever stops laughing, jumping and playing. I still have enough “padding” to admit that she is not drinking me empty so I’m so glad that public figures like you are positively supporting breastfeeding without shame. Well done!

  36. Gezelle
    Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    Love what u wrote. Im a first time mom and planning on breast feeding my baby girl whom is only 6weeks now until she turns 2year?

  37. Nicole le Roux
    Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    This sounds fabulous! Just about to become a new mom and super net ousted for the comments that will be thrown when I feed my child!

  38. Rentia
    Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    Fully agree, one less thing to worry about. Everyone has issues and you can’t let theirs interfere with your baby’s well-being.

    That said, I spent hours in bathrooms or my car breastfeeding my daughter, purely because society just do not embrace something so normal and incredibly important as breastfeeding. *sad face*

  39. Ilana Strauss
    Fri, 06 May 2016
    Reply

    I loved reading your message and its about time that someone step up for us mothers. My baby is 11 weeks old. I use to go sit In the baby changing room to feed him. I felt so embarrassed by the dirty looks people gave me when I was breast feeding. What is the big deal with it. When we hungry we eat does not matter where we are so the same goes for babies they just can’t talk but they should also have the right to eat when they hungry does not matter where it is.

  40. Sat, 07 May 2016
    Reply

    Hi Jo-Anne. Firstly there are so many people that are against breastfeeding for various reasons which I am certain you are aware of. I on the other hand am ALL FOR it. I feel so strongly about advocating for the moms that are shy.
    I sincerely hope that I can get hold of you to join and be our breastfeeding embassador? I started a group a year ago called Breastfeeding Friendly South Africa and in a year we have just over 5000 members and mommies. Our goal is to make businesses and establishments accountable for how they treat bfeeding moms and employees. Also to change the culture of bfeeding in SA. I have spoken on SABC radio and am so passionate about this 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/groups/904053389612392/

  41. Melanie davids Du toit
    Sat, 07 May 2016
    Reply

    In the light of our society often frowning on this natural and beautiful act, I would like to say that I hope that as we process as humans that we will not fail to forget the beauty of what is natural and its this case breastfeeding. I salute all moms who breastfeed, try to breastfeed even it it is for a short time, moms that purpose to breastfeed and due to some reason are not able to. I also think of those who choose not to breastfeed, whatever their reason may be. Let us respect each other for the choice we have made in our feeding option remembering that it ultimately doing what is best for our child. As a second time mom to a 3 week old boy, who has breastmilk related jaundice, I also stood before that choice. To breastfeed or not breastfeed. Knowing the benefits there of and having to face the choice. Especially having breastfed by first born till she was 2 years old. So I had to choose as we all do.

  42. Martha Mapella
    Sat, 07 May 2016
    Reply

    I just love breast feeding it’s for me the closest bond a mother can have with her new born. When adults are hungry or thirsty, the natural response is to eat and drink, and breastfeeding is exactly that, responding to your babies needs. And the satisfaction of your little one fed and happy is just priceless and the best feeling ever. Having a baby does so many things to and for you, there are so many changes not only with your body but your life too. As you are responsible for that little one, guiding them,protecting them, loving them, feeding them. And whether it’s bottle fed or breast feeding, the babies needs are at any given time the most important.

  43. Cindy Moore
    Sat, 07 May 2016
    Reply

    What a beautiful post 🙂
    Even though it was one of the most challenging things to go through with my newborn I loved every minute of that encounter with my baby. I only managed to breastfeed for 2 months but if it were possible I’d do it for as long as possible, wherever possible and whenever possible BECAUSE #breastfeedingisbeautiful

  44. Zamahlobo
    Sat, 07 May 2016
    Reply

    My role model you are such a wonderful mother . Wow i am taken away by your story some other women has no chill instead of supporting each other we busy talking negative things about others your children indeed are so luck to have you may God bless you more and more .

  45. Adele
    Mon, 09 May 2016
    Reply

    Could so do with a breastfeeding shawl!
    Have absolutley no issue feeding in public and agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly: don’t make your problem mine.
    That said, I’m not terribly skilled at being all that discreet – getting that “delicately draped scarf” in place can be a whole lot harder than it looks! Oh well, practice makes perfect. ?

  46. Mon, 09 May 2016
    Reply

    Babies feed every 3-4 hours. Are we supposed to drive home from where ever we are every few hours to breastfeed so we don’t offend someone? We are a generation of woman who can multitask in our lives. We can enjoy doing our tasks and raising our babies. So if it means that i’m going out for dinner tonight at a time that will overlap baby’s feeding time, he/she will have a feeding where ever we are. Because life continues and the world can not come to a stand still because baby needs a breast at home. Enjoy life Jo, enjoy raising/feeding as you see fit and not what comforts society. Just because we differ as parents does not mean one is correct and one is wrong.

    • Fri, 13 May 2016
      Reply

      Thanks, Bianca! You are such an inspirational woman! xx

  47. ISABEL SHIKWAMBANA
    Mon, 09 May 2016
    Reply

    Lol we were just discussing this issue today with my workmates and they believe a women should breastfeed her baby in public and since I will be a first time mom. I was highly offended, whats soooo wrong breastfeeding in public???? #VivaBreastfeedinginPublic

  48. Lindi
    Tue, 10 May 2016
    Reply

    I Am so happy that more and more women speak out against being picked on when breastfeeding in public. I have never done that although I have breast fed all my children because I am very shy by nature. But I feel that is bonding between you and your baby and half the world would not exist if it weren’t for breast feeding mothers. And it is done so casually nowadays that with all the lovely scarfs and shawls it needn’t be a problem for anybody. Jo-ann You have hit the nail on the head – if men stares they are the one with the problem not the women breastfeeding you baby.
    Love you for standing up and saying out loud.!!!!!

  49. Gaynor
    Fri, 13 May 2016
    Reply

    Dear Jo-Anne

    Thank you for this post.although late forbthe giveaway. Nonetheless. My daughter will be 2 months on sunday and i honestly have not tried breast feeding in public. Not because im ashamed but because im afraid of the comments of some really uneducated people. I breasfeed exclusively so like many have said. You cant just up and leave where ever you are because baby needs to feed.
    I found that places like v&aa waterfront and canal walk and i guess many other public places are not so great. At v&a the feeding facility is in the disabled toilet. I mean would an adult enjoy having their meal in a toilet? I think not so why on earth should i feed my precious child in a toilet???

    This weekend i will definitely try to feed in public instead of having to excuse myself from the table and feed her there.

    Our society is sick. How is breast feeding in public offensive but its happy to allow urinating in public….i mean really.

    I honestly feel that all women should stand together whether they breasfeed or not instead of ridiculing others about public feeding.

    I love your posts and it gives me courage to go out there and be brave not just for myself but for my precious daughter.

    Keep up the good work!

  50. Carmen
    Wed, 18 May 2016
    Reply

    Just listened to you on heart104.9 and I have to say those pics of you are stunning and personally as a mom who would have loved to have done a photo shoot…. its just haters that cannot deal with a beautiful glowing mommy who wants to share the love with the rest of the world. Sad for some people. You look amazing and thank you for being an inspiration to women.

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