A photograph of two military moms in uniform breastfeeding their babies has sparked a degree of controversy, and the moms depicted in the image have spoken out about the debate.
The image was taken as part of the Mom2Mom Breastfeeding Support Group located at Fairchild Air Force Base. In the pic, Terran Echegoyen-McCabe, an Air National Guard member, is pictured feeding her twin baby girls in uniform alongside another breastfeeding mom, also in uniform. Posted to the group’s Facebook page, the seemingly benign pic has attracted attention due to the unfamiliar sight of moms in uniform breastfeeding.
Even on the page, the military moms breastfeeding are prompting a slew of comments- many encouraging, but some like this:
“Breast feeding in public is not illegal but public nudity is! Keep up the good work but please cover up the girls. I know my male children are confused by why some women have there girlie parts hanging out at the mall. Much classier to use a small blankie :)”
But not everyone clucks for the proud moms to “cover up the girls,” and a fellow serviceman comments:
“While I kind of understand the paranoid publics’ outcry over the two airmen in uniform, being a Soldier, I see no problem with it, and applaud the photos. True, I am not a woman, but I still have my own opinion and it is that the images are perfectly acceptable. So congratulations on being normal,, good mothers… the world could use more of you, in or out of uniform!”
Echegoyen-McCabe appeared on the TODAY show to discuss the controversy, and stood by her decision to appear in the pic despite the backlash- she explains:
“I have breastfed in our lobby, in my car, in the park, and I pump, usually in the locker room… I’m proud to be wearing a uniform while breast-feeding. I’m proud of the photo and I hope it encourages other women to know they can breastfeed whether they’re active duty, guard or civilian.”
Sadly, according to Yahoo Shine, no particular protections are in place to ensure that servicewomen are encouraged to breastfeed babies, and even goes so far as to indicate that female military members “are encouraged to pump and bottle-feed their babies while they’re in uniform,” a practice known to harm a breastfeeding relationship.