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“I believe we made history”: female soldiers pose for powerful breastfeeding photograph

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Amy Lewis
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In a bid to support new mothers within the military, one Texan photographer has captured an incredibly powerful moment.

10 uniformed soldiers all on active duty, breastfeeding.

Formerly in the military herself, photographer Tara Ruby says she wanted to help support women who, like her, may feel forced to choose between being a mother and continuing as a soldier.

Serving in the Air Force while she had her first child, Ruby says that there were few provisions to help her through the experience, and activities like breastfeeding posed a number of problems.

So when she heard about the newly opened nursing room at the headquarters of Fort Bliss, an army post in El Paso, Texas, she decided to offer her services.

1st Armored Div Hdqtrs, Ft Bliss, TX

Posted by Breastfeeding in Combat Boots on Friday, 14 August 2015

Unlike the secret trips Ruby had to make to empty meeting rooms and bathrooms to express her milk, new mothers at Fort Bliss can now  sit in comfortable chairs in the nursing room, where there’s also a fridge to store bottles and a sink.

"I thought it would be nice to offer some photographs as an additional show of support," she tells CNN, noting that the walls of the room were somewhat bare.

With the support of Fort Bliss Ruby proposed her idea – female soldiers breastfeeding in uniform – and asked for two or three volunteers.

To her surprise, 10 women arrived at the photo shoot, and the Army has since shown its full support for the photograph too.

"Seeing a picture like that helps mothers understand they can be an active soldier and provide support to their children,” she says.

"Breastfeeding their babies doesn't make them less of a soldier, I believe it makes them a better one. Juggling the tasks and expectations of a soldier, plus providing for their own in the best way they possibly can, makes (these) ladies even stronger for it."

Though Facebook initially removed the photograph from Ruby’s professional page, with no comment or explanation as to why, the image has now been shared over 7,000 times.

“I believe we made history. To my knowledge a group photo to show support of active duty military mothers nursing their little one's has never been done,” says Ruby on Facebook.

“I was active duty a long time ago when support for breastfeeding mums wasn't even an option or a consideration. We have come so far.”

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Amy Lewis

Amy Lewis is a freelance writer and editor, a lover of strong tea, equally strong eyebrows, a collector of facial oils and a cat meme enthusiast. She covers everything from beauty and fashion to feminism and travel.

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