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'I post this to give mamas encouragement': Mom's breastfeeding photo goes viral

"I don't post this for attention. I don't post this because I think everyone should nurse uncovered."
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

“I don't post this for attention. I don't post this because I think everyone should nurse uncovered. I post this to give mamas encouragement. And to encourage others to make breastfeeding mothers feel accepted and supported; not alienated, ridiculed and judged.”

It's the breastfeeding quote — and photo — seen 'round the Internet. Ashley Kaidel, a 24-year-old mom from Florida, wrote the caption on a Facebook photo she posted of herself openly breastfeeding her infant son while sitting in a crowded restaurant. The photo has now been shared over 118,000 times and has gone around the world, appearing in stories in Germany, Australia, and the UK.

Kaidel — who blogs at Intactalactivist Mama — appears to be looking off into the distance while her son eats. “In reality, I'm staring into the eyes of a woman staring at me. She is looking at me with disgust and shaking her head with judgement in an attempt to shame me and indirectly tell me without words that I am wrong and need to cover myself,” Kaidel wrote.

Kaidel is a mother of two who had to abandon her hopes of breastfeeding her first child when her daughter struggled due to a lip tie that interfered with her latch. With her son, she has worked hard to overcome bouts of severe nipple trauma, mastitis, and his own lip and tongue ties to be able to breastfeed him.

“My sweet, patient boy and I have been through way too much to ever be anything other than proud of our breastfeeding journey and will never be shamed into hiding in a bathroom stall. We worked HARD to be able to breastfeed,” Kaidel wrote in a follow-up post on Facebook.

Kaidel says her goals with her posts are both to support and educate breastfeeding mothers of their rights. “My goal here is to let breastfeeding mothers know they matter, they have a right and they're supported by federal law AND by mothers like myself,” she says.

“I think what speaks so strongly to people with this story is the fact that I am willing to stand up and be the voice of all breastfeeding mothers with disregard to any backlash or negative feedback I may encounter,” says Kaidel of the post’s viral response. “I'm willing to (respectfully) go head to head with anyone that tries to condemn any breastfeeding mother. I think there are so many moms that have been in my exact situation… the only difference is I have been blessed enough to be heard. And now that my voice has been heard, I won't stop speaking out on this until breastfeeding is normalized again in our country, and all over the world.”

And though she is trying to encourage a movement to normalize breastfeeding, Kaidel stresses that she supports ALL mothers: “All that matters is the baby is being fed,” she wrote.

“We don't share this information to belittle or alienate anyone. We share this information because THIS is what needs to be spread to normalize what used to be an everyday occurrence,” Kaidel wrote. “We share this for the countless amount of mothers still hiding to nurse in their cars or in hot, unsanitary, public restrooms. We share this because we need to let them know it's ok AND LEGAL to nurse wherever, whenever, and HOWEVER you feel comfortable. Feed that baby, mama. We got your back!”