Capturing the joy of breastfeeding in public places

Neha Chopra and Deepak Verma, a photographer couple in the city, have started a year-long awareness campaign to normalise breastfeeding in public places through photo stories.

Their photography company, Out of Focus Pictures, holds the distinction of being the first from the country to be represented on the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project (PBAP) forum of worldwide photographers.

Ms. Chopra said they wanted to normalise breastfeeding by featuring mothers from diverse backgrounds feeding their children of different ages in ordinary settings such as public transport, roadsides and gardens. She said, “A week into the campaign, we wondered why not we extend it to a year-long one.”

She said that through her photo stories she hopes to give society more exposure to the act of breastfeeding and a sense of community to mothers. Ms. Chopra said, “We hope, over time, society will be more accepting of the fact that feeding a baby at any time and in any place is normal.” A birth photographer, Ms. Chopra has come across many mothers and their stories of breastfeeding. She said, “Capturing birth and breastfeeding is about focussing on a moment of truth, a moment that is irreplaceable and unique to every mother. Even though breastfeeding is an evolutionary act, it can be challenging too.” She said mothers should be given support so they can overcome challenges that stand in the way of breastfeeding their children. She said, “We can’t truly celebrate the joy of breastfeeding if our mothers continue to be shamed in public. I was able to breastfeed my daughter till the age of five only because I had an amazing support system.”

Ms. Chopra said while some mothers were reluctant to share their stories, some were happy to be a part of the initiative. Shubreet Kaur, the mother of a three-and-a-half-year-old child, said, “I have realised that people pass judgements all the time and the attitude towards breastfeeding needs to change. Judgements of any kind will hamper a mother’s journey. As a society, we need to empower mothers to freely make the best choices for themselves.”

‘Not a crime’

Vaishali Rangarajan, a mother of a two-year-old, said she first faced flak for nursing her daughter on her first flight. She said, “The number of glares and unsolicited advice I received from random people on the flight made me feel as if I had committed a felony. Through my photo story I would like to tell the world that nursing a child in public is not taboo.”

Lakshmi Wankhade, who is featured in the photo series feeding her three-and-a-half-year-old child while sitting on a divider amid traffic, said extended breastfeeding is not a crime. She said, “It is completely natural. Our culture is more tolerant towards breastfeeding. However, with western influence people have started to frown upon it. Instead of labelling it as extended breastfeeding, the correct terminology for feeding your child beyond the first year is and should be full-term breastfeeding.”

Out of Focus Pictures will be running its campaign across social media forums.

We hope, over time, society will be more accepting of the fact that feeding a baby at any time and in any place is normal

Neha Chopra

Out of Focus Pictures

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