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This breastfeeding graduate is doing it right

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. She has one more published book under her belt and is currently a freelance writer for SheKnows, Pregnancy and B...

A graduation photo you won't forget

A young mother posted a lovely photo of herself breastfeeding her baby during her college graduation, and for some reason, some thought that was a bad idea.

If your baby is hungry, you feed her, right? Well, when a young mom posted a photo of herself breastfeeding her baby girl during her college graduation and it went viral, not everyone thought that was OK. And I have to ask, "Why?"

Breastfeeding at graduation

Karlesha Thurman, 25, recently graduated from California State University Long Beach, and nursed her baby girl during her graduation ceremony. Her amazing photo was picked up by the Black Women Do Breastfeed Facebook page, who reshared it. She later wrote to the page, "Thank you, I found out I was pregnant my last year of college, had my daughter one week into my last semester, she was my motivation to keep going, so me receiving my BA was our moment, so glad I captured the moment and so glad you shared it with the world so thank you again."

Once the photo went viral, she received plenty of compliments and love, and many were inspired by her accomplishment and that she was also nursing her little one.

However, not everyone agreed that the photo was all that awesome. And that's where the problem lies. Some of the responses the photo received were frighteningly judgmental and mean.

Some assumed that she was at her high school graduation (and really, if she was… so what?).

Some didn't really understand that, you know, babies need to eat.

In defense of the nursing mother

Her sweet baby looks really young, and likely needs to eat quite often. I'm glad that she was able to have her baby with her at graduation and was able to feed her on demand. I've said this before, that not everyone has success with a breast pump and not every mother wants to introduce a bottle to their baby. And really, you don't have to — nursing your baby is just feeding your baby. You've chosen to use your breasts for their intended purpose and if your baby is hungry, you can feed her. It's really quite simple.

Eilta from the Blacktating Blog agrees. "We don't see photographs of black women nursing their babies nearly enough," she tells me. "It's also a really beautiful testament to motherhood in general — the way we sacrifice in order to provide our kids with the best. Going to school full-time while breastfeeding is quite a feat and should be celebrated. I'm willing to bet this mom had to work through lots of barriers in order to keep her nursing relationship with her daughter intact while she went to school."

Fortunately, she is getting just as many defenders on social media as she's getting detractors.

The backlash towards this mother is alarming, both those who dismissed the importance of the nursing relationship she has with her baby, and those who slut-shamed her for having a baby in the first place. I'd like to congratulate her on her college graduation and for her decision to nurse her daughter and share a photo displaying both. You're doing it right.

More on breastfeeding

Why shaming women into breastfeeding doesn't work
Delta drops the ball on breastfeeding again
Pro-breastfeeding ads criticized for obscenity

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