Many Thanks To 12 INCREDIBLE Moms Who Helped Bring the Normalize Breastfeeding Tour to Life

When I started this project in June 2014, I had no idea the type of impact it would have on so many families around the world. I was asked very early on if we had local chapters for mothers to find support. At the time we did not, however, it was something so necessary yet also possible through social media outlets. Many of our followers were inquiring about starting a chapter to help support other families, locally. Two years later, these admins and community leaders have not only supported breastfeeding in their local area, but they have also either hosted me in their home or helped to coordinate the Normalize Breastfeeding Tour in their local area! This is incredibly significant to the diversity that has been displayed in the project, across cultures and delivery methods of breast milk — and THAT was the goal. I can only photograph so many San Diegans here before all of the images begin to look alike. I am so grateful for these leaders and admins because they have helped me to stay true to my mission and vision of the project. Because of their hard work and dedication they have helped this project to reach and support more than 50,000 followers across all social media, groups, and email service platforms. “Amazing,” doesn’t even come close to how this makes me feel. I have poured my life in to this project so it has been wonderful to witness the support of my story, my art, and my efforts to support breastfeeding families, which has inspired every aspect of this project.

While the Normalize Breastfeeding Tour is primarily funded by its participants – or the mothers purchasing a photo package, we recently were able to seek out funding for our most recent tour stop. I’ll be honest, the funding just made this tour stop so much easier to manage. We didn’t have to worry about hitting certain minimum goals to cover the tour expenses. The mamas involved were also given more opportunities to attend additional events throughout the course of the weekend. If this tour was able to receive funding like that for future stops it would make the process easier. That is our hope for 2017 to help reach international countries as well. Find out more about how you can get involved to plan a tour stop in your city!

I just want to send a special T H A N K  Y O U out to A L L of our admins (even those not pictured below) for their support of breastfeeding in their local communities. I also want to highlight these #NBFmamas who I have personally photographed because they either helped to organize their local #NBFtour or they hosted me to stay in their home while I was in town! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. <3

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B R A W L E Y, C A
58 Members

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betty_nbftour_normalizebreastfeeding“I am so glad that I had the opportunity to be part of this great movement . My experience with breastfeeding started eight years ago. Around that time breastfeeding was not on everyone’s agenda. Even doctors and other mothers consider it irrelevant or taboo. The only support I had was of my husband and my lactation consultant. We dealt with nursing strikes, and I dealt with having low supply because of  magnesium the I had to take after having preeclampsia. Reaching out for educational information for myself was hard, but I’m thankful for people like Vanessa who not only spreads awareness about breastfeeding, but also formed support groups. Now our culture is changing and the lives of Moms and their babies has been changed forever. Nutrition and protection, but over all a lot of love through breastfeeding. What a blessing in being part of NORMALIZE BREASTFEEDING!”

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A T L A N T A, G A
51 Members

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color_proofs_atlanta_faye-3800“All I ever saw was my mother breastfeed. I am honored to have had that example to help shape the breastfeeding experiences I had with my children. I am proud to say I never gave up in spite of my barriers. Oh and I had TONS of barriers. But I was determined to nurse my children off my bosom. It was excruciatingly painful to nurse my son and I cried during every feeding. I cringed when he would latch, I cringed when I bled, I cringed when it hurt so bad and would scream but I knew breastmilk was the best for him. I did not know he was latched incorrectly. I had no idea it wasn’t supposed to hurt. My left breast scabbed so badly by day 3 and by the time it healed all of my ducts were clogged and I only produced milk out of my right breast. I continued to nurse him out of one breast for 23.5 months. His pediatrician wanted me to supplement since he wasn’t gaining weight fast enough. I literally pulled my breast out of my shirt and dripped milk all over the floor. I told him no and fought with my husband about it all the way home. He didn’t take to solids –his choice—so I nursed him exclusively for 12.5 months. He eventually enjoyed food but nursed until he was ready to have solid food.My husband gave our daughter 3 bottles of expressed breast milk and a pacifier while I slept on her 3rd day of life for 9 hours. Though I asked him to wake me to nurse that caused her to have nipple confusion and she wouldn’t latch. For 12 and a half weeks I attempted at EVERY feeding to re-latch her. Every breast, during her early hunger cues before she got to being frustrated and crying. I’d have pumped or hand expressed milk waiting for her and would syringe feed just so she wouldn’t continue to have nipple confusion. I dealt with oversupply because I was up pumping around the clock and hand expressing for relief as needed. To this day my daughter is 2 and a half and nurses in the morning for 40 minutes like a newborn. I love it. I’ll nurse her until she doesn’t want to anymore.”

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L A S  V E G A S, N V

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#NBFtour“I gave birth to my first in August 2015. It was the most amazing and intense experience of my life because I decided to have a natural birth. After my baby girl was born my amazing doula Tori helped me figure out the beginning awkwardness that breastfeeding brings. Maybe it is just me, but I never thought I would need to learn how to hold my baby in order to breastfeed, but after several minutes and Tori’s help my baby girl latched like a champ! I was very surprised at how much force she had even though she was so tiny! I was told that the first two weeks would be tough because I would be really sore, but it took me a good 4 weeks to get over the pain, it was really discouraging but I’m glad I stuck to my guns! My baby girl and I are still going strong and I feel very blessed that I am still able to breastfeed my baby girl.” -Addie

#NBFtour“I feed my baby whenever, where ever. Parks, beach, restaurants, the beach. Everywhere. Public breastfeeding was probably the biggest issue we had. I had my cover and used it. But i was always afraid of the confrontation that might come at me. Which i have had none, thankfully. The more I did it, the more confident I became. Now, I have no issues feeding my baby where ever we are and without our cover. There have been times my husband has looked at me and asked if I was feeding the baby. He had no clue.” -Morgan

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W A S H I N G T O N, D C
17 Members

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“I am a Northern Virginia mother of two boys, ages 3 ½ and 2, who are both currently nursing. My breastfeeding journey began just about as well as it could; my mother (who works in Labor & Delivery and is knowledgeable about breastfeeding) stayed with me for the first two weeks after my first son was born and helped with moral and technical support. I found my first breastfeeding support community when my oldest was about 6 months old; they discussed delaying solids with moms at a library story time session, and one of the moms recommended I attend the local La Leche League meetings. My journey quickly included pregnant and tandem nursing, as I became pregnant with my second when my youngest was 7 months old. My milk supply fell and I  sought out donor milk while still continuing to nurse my oldest throughout the pregnancy. After my second son was born, I started tandem nursing successfully and haven’t looked back. I “fell into” breastfeeding activism after enduring demands to cover up or leave while nursing my children at my (former) gym facility when my youngest was only 7 weeks old. I was a key part of the grassroots effort to pass Virginia’s 2015 “Right to Breastfeed” legislation and gave my testimony at the capitol while breastfeeding. I gained international acclaim for organizing the Nurse-In at the Today Show and working with Normalize Breastfeeding to broadcast it live. My breastfeeding journey has been empowering not only for myself and my children, but to moms who benefit from my hard work and perseverance.” -Jill

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O K L A H O M A  C I T Y, OK
182 Members

This mama was gracious to offer to host me in her home after registering to participate and helping us with printing our new t-shirts! Unfortunately, neither of our admins (Brittney & Sara), from this location were available to participate on that date.

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#nbftour_okc_©vanessaasimmons-6402“It was never a question for me whether or not to breastfeed, I always just knew this is what I would do when my little was born. After a difficult labor that ended with an emergency c-section, I was overjoyed that my son knew exactly what to do and latched immediately, it was one of happiest moments of my life. We had a little struggle in the first few weeks with weight gain, as I know many do. This is when I learned how valuable lactation consultants were. I hadn’t realized there was a “way” to breastfeed before then but our lactation consultant quickly corrected our issues and we were able to avoid supplementing. From then on, breastfeeding has been “easy” for us. Yes, it is very demanding ( more so then I had ever imagined) and yes I am up ten times a night but I can’t imagine it any other way. I can see my son’s appreciation as I am able to not only nourish him with my breast but also provide comfort and warmth. I don’t often think about it, but it is truly amazing how we have been able to bond. Breastfeeding is not for everyone, and that is perfectly fine; but for us, it was just the way to be.” -Jillian

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C H I C A G O, I L
25 Members

S P E C I A L  T  H A N K S goes out to Abby, The Badass Breastfeeder, who not only supported the tour as a promoter, but also participated, sponsored two participants through her personal blog, hosted me in her home, featured the photos on her blog and even shared every mama’s story to all of her social media outlets! You ROCK mama!

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“I struggled to breastfeed with my first son. I struggled with the entire transition to motherhood! Once we hit our stride I couldn’t picture weaning him. At five years old it remains such an important part of our relationship. I breastfed through the pregnancy of my second son and currently tandem nurse. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.”
-Abby, The Badass Breastfeeder

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N E W  O R L E A N S, L A
34 Members

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wm_nbftour_nola_normalizebreastfeeding-7771-2“After formula feeding my 2 older children, breastfeeding my 3rd child wasn’t something I ever wanted to do. Little did I know, I’d love it. Over the last 18 months, we’ve dealt with lip and tongue ties, pumping issues, and grief from a local hospital. I never thought I’d be so pro-breastfeeding or that I’d even be as involved with breastfeeding education. But I am and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” -Adrienne

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P H I L A D E L P H I A, P A
85 Members

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wm_#nbftour_pa_©normalizebreastfeeding-8454“My name is Jabina Coleman, I am a mother of two beautiful children a 12 year old son and 2 year old daughter. I know, what was I thinking! My babies are 9.8 years apart and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Although always interested in breastfeeding after having my son, and returning back to school to finish my undergraduate degree, I didn’t have the support I needed to successfully breastfeed him. Fast forward, about 10 years later, I delivered a healthy baby girl N. Mae on April 22, 2014. N.Mae, did skin to skin and latched on within the first half hour of life-of course she did, her momma is a Certified Lactation Counselor who teaches breastfeeding classes.” -Jabina

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C H A R L O T T E, N C
628 Members

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wm_nbftour_chi_normalizebreastfeeding-9528-2“Our nursing journey began immediately after giving birth. We did the breast crawl and let Caspian find it himself which was amazing to watch. We haven’t had any major nursing obstacles in our three years of nursing so far. I was never able to pump and never had a excess of milk. I have always let Caspian nurse on demand. We share such a great bond from nursing. I wasn’t able to nurse my oldest son long and I always regretted that. Caspian is my rainbow baby and I knew I wanted to give him the best possible start by nursing him.” -Haley

wm_nbftour_chi_normalizebreastfeeding-9500“After a healthy pregnancy and beautiful, natural birth, I thought the hard part was over. Breastfeeding proved to be a huge struggle for us, though. Over the course of the first year postpartum I battled multiple infections, low supply, destructive advice from medical professionals, and unsupportive pressure from family. Through emotional and physical pain, and thousands of pumping sessions at work and home, I pushed through. Eventually I found a great breastfeeding community support group and the help from other moms made a world of difference. In my daughter’s 13th month we finally cleared up the infections, built a healthy milk supply, and ignited a passion and confidence to help other mothers avoid all the unnecessary breastfeeding struggles I faced. I earned lactation credentials in New York and joined a new local chapter of NormalizeBreastfeeding.org as co-admin when I moved to Charlotte two years ago. The group has grown quickly, as evidence of the huge need for mom-to-mom support. I’ve made dear friends along the way as we help each other with this complex, beautiful process of nourishing our children with our incredible bodies. At the beginning, I didn’t think I’d be able to breastfeed my daughter past a few weeks. As I write this, I’m nursing her to sleep at 4.5 years old while 32 weeks pregnant with my second. If I can do this, I can do anything. And every mother deserves the empowerment of knowing her body can do incredible things.” -Shelly

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To each and every one of the moms who have helped to start a group, “Thank You!”

This has helped our movement reach families around the world and for that I am truly grateful. I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season this year, full of love, joy, and hope. Let us all remember how far we have come to change the face of breastfeeding in the United States and beyond. Well done!

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Thank you mamas for nursing in public and helping to normalize breastfeeding!

Special thanks to all of the #NBFtour collaborators for helping to make this tour great!

SPONSORS:
Sarah Carp, 1st grade Teacher (3)
Kristyna Cleek, Studying for IBLCE (1)
Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coalition (1)
Nurse Nikki, LLC (1)
The Badass Breastfeeder (2)
Human Milk News (1)
Laura Corsig, IBCLC (1)

PARTNERS:
Indigo Willow Breast Milk Jewelry & Keepsakes
Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear

DONORS:
Bessie’s Best Lactation Cookies
Boob & Baby
Anchois Coffee Co.
Sakura Bloom
BooneOakley Breastfeeding Stickers
Earth Mama Angel Baby
SnugaBell: Mom & Baby Gear

PROMOTERS:
Lettering Express
Breastfeeding in Combat Boots
Mom2Mom Global: Military Support Group
Breastfeeding Mama Talk
Best for Babes

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Comments
  1. Jennifer says:

    It’s amazing and beautiful, your work is outstanding. The beauty and passion you posses is incredible. It was a pleasure being a part of one of your photo shoots and more of a pleasure to know you. Stay blessed and much love from this Phila mom. Fantastic work. 💖💖💖💖💖💖💖

  2. Karen Rasmussen Vlasaty says:

    WOW! FANTASTIC! THANK YOU, Vanessa Simmons! Wonderful photos. Can’t believe you and Nikki Lee were not seriously hurt in terrible accident. Brave you, got going ahead that day. Many blessings on you, your family, and your calling.

  3. Romina says:

    This is absolutely beautiful and inspiring. I appreciate your honesty and courageous vulnerability in sharing your story. Thank you for the work you’re doing. It’s incredibly important. Brilliant!

  4. Michelle says:

    The images are wonderful! Congratulations on your contribution to such an important project! I was just in Philadelphia and must have just missed them 🙁

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Founded by Vanessa A. Simmons, CLEC, Photographer