(RNN) – Photos of two military women breastfeeding their kids while in uniform have evoked strong emotional feedback.
The pictures were part of a series done for Mom2Mom, a support group at Fairfield Air Force Base in Spokane, WA. Photographer Brynja Sigurdardottir captured several women nursing their children on the base grounds, but shots of two Air National Guardsmen received national attention.
Terran Echegoyen-McCabe and Christina Luna both sit with their Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) jackets unbuttoned as they breastfeed their children. For the most part, people commenting on the pictures have been either strongly for or strongly against public feeding in uniform.
The photographer issued a written statement on Facebook, saying no one expected the photo to be "shared around the world and back twice over."
"This was going to be for the local airmen at Fairchild," Sigurdardottir stated. "However, we want everyone to realize that we never meant to cause commotion, disrespect or attention. These are just two beautiful women, who are in the military, breastfeeding their babies.
"We do not regret what we have done, we just hope the military and everyone else sees that just because you are in uniform … you can breastfeed your baby without shame. We have done nothing wrong, and we hope this will make changes to protect all women to breastfeed in public, in uniform or out."
Echegoyen-McCabe told the Today show she was proud to wear a uniform while breastfeeding. She also hoped it would encourage others to know they can breastfeed, whether they are active duty, guard or civilian.
"There isn't a policy saying we can or cannot breastfeed in uniform," Echegoyen-McCabe said to Today. "I think it's something that every military mom who is breastfeeding has done. I think we do need to be able to breastfeed in uniform and be protected."
The images appeared on the website breastfeedingincombatboots.com on May 21. Robyn Roche-Paull, the blog's author, said the Air Force did not endorse them, but permission was given to the individuals to have their picture taken while breastfeeding in their uniform.
"Are you thrilled to see two military mothers breastfeeding their children (one a toddler and the other a set of twins!)?" Roche-Paull asked on her blog. "Or are you horrified that they would do such a thing and bring disgrace to the uniform they are wearing? Would this photo have the same effect if it was two civilian mothers?"
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