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27 Amazing Old Images of Breastfeeding Throughout History

Who doesn’t love a glimpse into the past? These old breastfeeding images from around the world prove that not only is breastfeeding a tale as old as time, whipping a boob out – even in public – isn’t a big to-do, nor has it been for a long time.

We partnered up with My Brest Friend because they too are timeless (and badass) by supporting breastfeeding over 25 years with their award-winning nursing pillows. They are the #1 choice of lactation consultants and millions of moms in more than 35 countries around the world. (Mine got me through many a long night feeding.)

Breastfeeding Images Throughout History

Old breastfeeding image of Victorian era mother nursing baby in a park
vintag.es

It turns out that breastfeeding photographs were popular with young mothers in the Victorian era.

Black and white photo with profile of mother breastfeeding baby
vintag.es

I feel like this woman is running down the list of bullshit chores she has to do later that day. This was taken sometime in the 1850s.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby

No doubt this kid peed on her.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Fulton, New York, circa 1910.

It’s amazing to see that those little grins are timeless.

Black and white photograph of dark haired mother smiling down at nursing baby
independent.co.uk

Just imagine the buttons they had to deal with. This photo is from 1898.

Color retouched vintage photograph of woman staring down at baby while it nurses wearing green robe with lace cuffs

This is from a card in France. It reads: “starting from the baby’s birth, good health for the mother prosperity for the baby.”

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
circa 1900

That sweet gaze.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Photographer: David E. Scherman. Time/Life Magazine.

Mothers nursing their babies while waiting their turn to see the doctor in Paris, France 1946. Check out the wimple that nun is rocking.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Mother and Child” Studio Shin-e-Do (Kobe, Japan).Photography. 19th century.

Everything in this photo is beautiful, although, the latch might make some lactation consultants twitchy.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
circa 1890s

Proof that the mom bun is also not new to the mothering scene.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
London, circa 1910

I feel like this toddler was given the blue cup instead of the requested yellow cup.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
circa 1920

That thousand yard stare tells me this kiddo is about 9 seconds from falling asleep on the job.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
circa 1950

Yes, we are focusing on her breastfeeding but I can’t get over how great her skin looks.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Village Madonna (Váci Mári, the winegrower’s daughter, and her child) Photographer: André Kertész, September 26, 1920. Taken in Szigetbecse, Hungary.

Check out the sweet baby feet.

Black and white old photograph of Indigenous woman tandem nursing children outdoors in Alaska
Alaska, 1904. Photo by FH Nowell.

Tandem feeding for the win!

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Dorothea Lange circa 1936

Dorothea Lange took this photograph while employed by the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) to raise awareness of impoverished farmers. This is one of six photographs taken of Florence Thompson. On being the very famous “Migrant Mother“. She was 32 years old in this photo.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
circa 1930s

Just a couple of guys not giving a shit that a woman is feeding her baby. Guess men can keep it together after all. Who knew?!

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Part of Social Hour audience at Shafter Camp (handwritten on reverse) b) Todd’s favorite picture of an “Okie Family” in Shafter F.S.A. Camp. Nursing babies was the usual thing at camp “Socials.” (typed and attached to reverse)

The only person who seems even mildly perplexed is the young boy in the far right of the photo. I like to think he’s more concerned about her stockings rolling down.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Photographer: Esther Bubley, 1943 for Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Collection (FSA-OWI).

A mother waiting in the Chattanooga bus terminal to travel from Louisville, Kentucky to Memphis, Tennessee on a Greyhound bus.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Photographer: Ralph Morse, LIFE Picture Collection

This photo was taken in April 1946 of a French woman nursing her baby whose father is American GI.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
circa 1940s

The only information I can find about this photo is that it is from an “outdoor meeting” in the 1940s. Once again, nobody in this photo seems to care or notice that this woman is breastfeeding.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Photographer: Kati Horna

Woman breastfeeding her child in Vélez Rubio (Almería) in 1937 during the Spanish civil war. I feel like all the women in this photo get shit done.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Photographer: Alfred Eisenstaedt, Time Life Magazine

Beautiful bonding moment. This photo was taking in Greenville, MS, in 1937.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
La Gitane de Sacromonte (Grenade) Photographer: Jean Dieuzaide

Romany woman breastfeeding in Spain 1951. High boob still gets the job done.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
circa 1977

This is a wonderful screengrab from an episode of Sesame Street where Buffy Sainte-Marie explains breastfeeding to Big Bird. “You know, that’s nice”. Yes, it is Big Bird, yes it is. You can watch the whole thing here.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Found on Facebook

Bedouin Arab nomad woman nursing her baby in 1974. Love the little hand hold.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
via 35 Photo

At first I thought this was a cool photo from the 40s. Turns out it’s from 2014 and it’s a thing in Russia to dress in uniform and take pictures of it. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. I think it’s still a cool photo.

Black and white photograph of mother breastfeeding baby
Found on Facebook

Multitasking at its finest!

If this walk down memory lane has shown us anything, it’s that breastfeeding proudly and publicly isn’t new.

It’s not immodest. It’s not rude. And it’s not by any stretch of the imagination some agenda being pushed by youngins’. Plus, it is legally protected by both federal and state laws in all 50 states. So there you go.

Which of these old breastfeeding images was you favorite?

Let me know in the comments!


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Our next recos: Breastfeeding Bingo – How many of these can you check off?

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