Women share 'brelfies' for art exhibitions organised by student midwives

An exhibition celebrating breastfeeding proved such a hit at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) that its student organisers have presented a pop-up version to a national audience.

The DMU Midwifery Society show featured a variety of artworks and 'brelfies' - breastfeeding selfies sent in by women all over the world - aimed at normalising breastfeeding, especially in public.

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The students took selected pieces to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) conference in Manchester, attended by around 3,000 delegates from all over the UK.

Midwifery student Rebecca Telling said: "We are so excited to have held the pop-up exhibit and hope it will inspire others to do similar and greater things to support normalising breastfeeding.

"We hope it will inspire midwives to rethink the ways in which we promote breastfeeding. We also hope that anyone who attends is able to see the beauty of breastfeeding."

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Rebecca came up with the idea while on holiday, after seeing an image of a woman breastfeeding on the cover of a magazine.

The 21-year-old said: "I thought it was such an amazing photograph, but you would never see it in the UK.

"I knew I didn't have the capacity to get someone breastfeeding on a magazine cover in the UK, so I thought of other ways I could promote normalising breastfeeding, especially in public.

"That's when I had the idea of running an art exhibit."

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After receiving backing from the Midwifery Society, Rebecca contacted The Gallery at DMU, which gave space for an exhibition last month. Fellow student Alice Lacy put out a call for brelfies and Rebecca was surprised but pleased by the response.

She said: "We got pictures from women from all over the world. We originally asked people we knew and then we put it out on social media, and it went crazy. We received 484 photographs."

Originally running for three days on campus, the exhibition - which also included watercolours, sculptures and professional photography - proved such a hit that programme leader Moira McLean encouraged the students to take a pop-up version to the RCM conference.

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"The whole experience has been an absolute privilege," added Rebecca. "It has been a joy to interact with mothers and see them enjoy the exhibition.

"It was also fulfilling to see those who wouldn't otherwise have even thought about breastfeeding, start to be part of the conversation.

"My hope is that when people see it they are really inspired. I'm really passionate about women being able to breastfeed wherever they need to, not be told to go and feed their baby in a toilet because someone might be upset. I can't understand why it still shocks people."

You can see more of the artworks on the Instagram account - @breast_is_best18 - which the students created for the project.

Posted on Wednesday 10th October 2018

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