Plenty of parents need to hang tight, block out the shamers, and develop a thick skin when it comes to feeding their babies (as if our weary postpartum bodies haven’t already been through enough). Formula-feed, and you face criticism from the “breast is best” camp. But breastfeed in public, and be prepared for everyone — complete strangers included — to have an opinion on where, how and for how long you should nourish your kid. Thankfully, plenty of moms in the public eye are using their celebrity to help normalize breastfeeding.
The stats speak for themselves: Nearly one-third of moms surveyed in 2013 stated that women who breastfeed in public are “attention-seeking,” or that the practice is “embarrassing” or even “wrong,” and a 2015 survey of public opinions about breastfeeding found that only 63 percent of people believed moms have the right to breastfeed in public. In 2015. Seriously?
Hadestown actor Amber Gray was breast-pumping (via hands-free dual electric pump, naturally) backstage during intermission last year while reapplying her makeup, because moms gotta multitask, when photographer Emilio Madrid-Kuser snapped this now-viral shot, among other pics.
“I realized he wasn’t planning on submitting them to his editor as pieces to actually put into the world and I was like, ‘This is what I do every single intermission, and have done since 2016,’ ” the Tony Nominee told People. “‘You can put this into the world, and this is just working motherhood.’ Lots of people do this. There’s nothing weird here.”
Gray added that she “would love a moment when that photo does not go viral — when it’s not empowering to people, it’s just normal. And people were like, ‘What’s your agenda?’ I’m like, ‘There’s no agenda. A quarter of the world are working mothers. It’s just normal life.’”
Kat Von D
Since giving birth to her first child, son Leafar Von D Reyes, in November 2018, Kat Von D has been open about her breastfeeding ups and downs. In one candid Instagram post, she revealed that while she and her newborn were still in the hospital, she had to boost his low blood sugar levels by feeding him with donated breast milk from fellow new mom and doula, Morgan Campbell. (Von D’s own milk hadn’t come in yet, which is normal for some moms.) “True sisterhood,” Von D wrote when paying tribute to Campbell — and she’s part of that sisterhood herself for sharing wonderful pics of her “magical boobs.”
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Getting some of that vitamin Double D! 😜 Sunshine party! We try and spend daily time with Leafar outside in our front yard — especially now that he’s hit his first mental development leap at age 5 weeks. His heightened sense of alertness, smell and touch make going outside such a treat for him [and for us]. So much magical bliss [and boobs]. 🖤
It’s true that most moms don’t breastfeed wearing Versace and Bulgari diamonds, but Rachel McAdams’ breast-pumping photo shoot certainly got people talking. Taken by photographer Claire Rothstein for the cover of Girls. Girls. Girls. magazine, and later shared by Rothstein on Instagram, it shows McAdams wearing a breast pump six months postpartum. But it was more than a unique accessory; Rothstein revealed that McAdams was actually pumping between shots.
“Breastfeeding is the most normal thing in the world and I can’t for the life of me imagine why or how it is ever frowned upon or scared of,” added Rothstein. “I don’t even think it needs explaining but just wanted to put this out there, as if it even changes one person’s perception of something so natural, so normal, so amazing then that’s great.”
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A million reasons why I wanted to post this picture. Obviously #rachelmcadams looks incredible and was quite literally the dream to work with but also this shoot was about 6 months post her giving birth to her son, so between shots she was expressing/pumping as still breastfeeding. We had a mutual appreciation disagreement about whose idea it was to take this picture but I’m still sure it was hers which makes me love her even more. Breastfeeding is the most normal thing in the world and I can’t for the life of me imagine why or how it is ever frowned upon or scared of. I don’t even think it needs explaining but just wanted to put this out there, as if it even changes one person’s perception of something so natural, so normal, so amazing then that’s great. Besides she’s wearing Versace and @bulgariofficial diamonds and is just fucking major. Big shout out to all the girls 💪🏽 #rachelmcadams for @girls.girls.girls.magazine .com cover shoot 📸 @clairerothstein #pleaseshare . . . Side note: I did not look anywhere near as fabulous as this when feeding/pumping. And that’s ok too. . . . Stylist: @alicialombardini 👠 #girlsgirlsgirlsmag #girlsgirlsgirls #bringingbackthewoman #nogrungejustglamour #independentmagazine #printisnotdead #normalisebreastfeeding #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeeding #life #women #versace #bulgari
In 2018, Teigen shared a cute photo of herself “breastfeeding” baby son Miles and daughter Luna’s baby doll at the same time, which caused a somewhat surprising amount of controversy. Of course, that’s something the famous mom is more than used to, and as ever, she took it in stride — responding to haters with the perfect clapback. “You make feeding a baby big deal because you got weird titty issues,” she tweeted. Amen, lady. Also, doll babies typically come with little plastic bottles filled with plastic formula, so why shouldn’t they be “breastfed” too?
We can always count on Alanis Morissette for a stellar World Breastfeeding Week photo. This mom has caused controversy for her views on extended breastfeeding, telling Good Morning America, “I know some children who have weaned naturally at two years, [and] some kids wean naturally a couple of years later. I mean, it’s up to every child.” She also told Access Hollywood, “I’ll breastfeed, and I’ll be breastfeeding until my son is finished and he weans.”
Jenny Mollen Biggs
Jason Biggs shared a photo of his wife, Jenny Mollen Biggs, breastfeeding their first son in the back of their car in July 2014. But she wasn’t just sitting in the back of the car — she was leaning over the car seat to get her boob in the right position to feed the tot in transit. Which requires contortionist moves, patience and a sense of humor. In other words, the ultimate postpartum toolkit.
Lakshmi’s throwback “working moms” post, showing her breastfeeding her daughter Krishna while putting on mascara on the set of Top Chef, went viral in May 2018. Proof that even the rich and famous have to multitask, and when it comes to breastfeeding, plenty of moms are facing the same daily struggles and triumphs.
Pink has been one of the most outspoken celebrity supporters of nursing. The mom of two has shared many photos of herself breastfeeding — and she pretty much nailed the only thing that needs to be said about the practice (during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017): “I’m feeding my kid. Would you rather him scream?” Try offering that clapback the next time someone questions your right to breastfeed in public.
And if that doesn’t silence the hater, here are some more wise words from DeGeneres, proving that you don’t need to be (or have been) a nursing mom to understand why breastfeeding is kind of important: “It’s a child, and it needs to eat.”
Jenna Wolfe and Stephanie Gosk’s kids are well beyond their baby days, but Today host Wolfe was fighting the corner of breastfeeding moms long before #brelfies were an actual thing. During maternity leave with her first child, daughter Harper Estelle Wolfeld, Wolfe wore a hidden camera to capture people’s reactions to breastfeeding in public. Overall, it was a positive experience, but unfortunately that’s not the case for all moms. “Before I had a child I had no idea breastfeeding could be such an emotional topic,” said Wolfe. “If I’ve learned anything so far it’s that while it’s not always easy, most of us moms are just doing our best.”
Celebrity moms can get a bad rap for sharing their nursing experiences, but they’re in a great position to help normalize breastfeeding. So keep the selfies, the discussion and the clapbacks coming. The nursing moms around the world don’t need to be pumping in Versace to appreciate your efforts.
A version of this story was originally published in March 2019.