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For years, the Porcupine Health Unit in Timmins, Ontario has advocated for public breastfeeding and normalizing the practice in their community. They have a breastfeeding clinic which offers support and information to new mothers, a catalogue of ‘breastfeeding friendly places‘ in the community, and offer resources to mothers whose breastfeeding rights have been violated. Now, the unit has created a new normalization campaign that’s turning heads and starting a much-needed conversation in the community.

The health unit recently unveiled life-size cardboard cutouts of local Timmins moms breastfeeding to be put up in local businesses, government buildings, restaurants and other commercial areas. Over the course of the summer, the cutouts will also visit small surrounding towns that, according to a nurse at the health unit, are even less accepting of public breastfeeding.

Timmins breastfeeding cutouts
CTV

These cutouts are meant to be a recognition that breastfeeding is normal and natural, and that women should not be discriminated against for doing it in public. According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, women have the right to breastfeed in any public area without being asked to ‘cover up,’ move or be more discreet. This doesn’t stop people from trying though (or giving disapproving glances). According to public health nurse Meagan Potvin, that’s one of the reasons women might choose to stop breastfeeding or not do it at all.

Potvin told CTV that while breastfeeding is encouraged by nurses for its health benefits, many women will stop breastfeeding around six months for a variety of reasons, most notably, the social stigma. These cutouts aim to make that less of an issue.

So, major kudos to the moms who agreed to be featured on these displays. In a society that is still mostly squeamish about public breastfeeding, it’s incredible to see women who will not only do it with confidence, but are comfortable having life-size images of themselves posted throughout town. Is there really anything a mom can’t do?