Photographer Emma Shardlow Hudson of Lincolnshire, England, has spent the past two years using her considerable talents to end the stigma of public nursing through a powerful photo series she calls the Breastfeeding Project.
Emma, who currently nurses her two children, launched the project in 2016 after hosting a function for nursing mothers as part of the Global Big Latch On initiative. Realizing that most of the mothers she encountered at the event didn’t have a single photograph of themselves nursing, she decided to take matters into her own hands, and she began organizing breastfeeding shoots herself.
“I truly see the beauty in each moment you have breastfeeding your children, be it for a short while or a long while, and I really want to capture those memories for you for years to come,” Emma says on her website.
Emma said her project has received unanimous acclaim — “I haven’t had any negative comments about my photos,” she told the Daily Mail — but strangely enough, she’ll occasionally receive a negative remark for breastfeeding in public.
And that’s exactly why the artist and advocate has no intention of renouncing her passion project anytime soon.
Emma, who runs Hudson & Rose Photography, told the Mail that breastfeeding is “something I really enjoy photographing.”
And it sounds like her skills are much needed: “Some mums take breastfeeding selfies which is great,” she explained, “but you don’t get the angle to really see the way the baby is responding to it.”
“As a photographer, I can get right up close and capture the way the baby is looking at their mum, or looking over her shoulder to see their dad,” she continued.
Emma's photographs often elicit strong reactions from her subjects.
“When the mums see the photos,” she said, “they tend to get quite emotional and think it’s lovely that they have this record.”
“Breastfeeding is such a huge part of your life for a while but so many women don’t really think to document it,” she added.
Emma's experience at the Global Big Latch On event had a major impact on her.
The initiative invites dozens of mothers to gather together in a room to breastfeed.
“Because there’s so much support there, it’s great for people who haven’t fed before or have been struggling,” Emma said.
For many mothers, that support is everything.
“The amount of mums I have spoken to who feel guilty about not breastfeeding their child is crazy,” Emma revealed. “They say they stopped because they didn’t get the support they needed.”
Emma currently nurses her 5-year-old daughter Alex and 2-year-old son Ollie.
Emma believes her breastmilk benefits her children’s immune systems and practices natural term breastfeeding. In other words, she’s letting her children nurse until they decide to wean themselves.
“It’s impossible to put into words what it’s like to breastfeed your child — it’s amazing,” she gushed.
“[Breastfeeding is] a completely selfless thing to do, but it can be really hard,” Emma continued. “It’s really beautiful to be able to feed your baby yourself.”
Emma's never gotten negative feedback about her photos, but she occasionally gets criticized for breastfeeding in public.
Some strangers have had the audacity to say “urgh” to Emma while she’s publicly nursing her children.
“The contrast is strange,” she mused. “I’ve had maybe two or three negative comments while I’ve actually been breastfeeding in public. But I haven’t had any negative comments about my photos — everyone thinks they’re great.”
If you live in England, you can participate in a Breastfeeding Project session for free. (Visit Emma’s website for more details.)
Keep up the lovely work, Emma!
Be sure to follow Hudson & Rose Photography on Facebook and Instagram to keep tabs on the Breastfeeding Project and other projects Emma has in the works.