Time's breastfeeding cover: behind the scenes

It was the cover that sparked debate as soon as it was released into the world: an attractive young mum looking straight at the viewer, her almost-four-year-old son standing on a chair to feed from her exposed breast while also looking down the camera barrel. Beside her the headline asked: "Are you mom enough? 

The accompanying article focussed on attachment parenting and Dr Bill Sears, the man who first brought the parenting style into the public consciousness with the release of his guide, The Baby Book, in 1992. The article spoke about the basics of the parenting philosophy - which include extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping and 'baby wearing' in slings - and how more and more parents are adapting facets of it to fit into their lifestyles today.

To illustrate the article, photographer Martin Schoeller visited four families who practice attachment parenting around America. He has said he used religious images, particularly pictures of the Madonna and Child, as a reference point.

Two of the 'attachment parents' featured in <i>Time</i>.
Two of the 'attachment parents' featured in Time

Jamie Lynne Grumet, the 26-year-old on the cover, is mum to Aram (on the cover), four, and her five-year-old adopted son, Samuel. She breastfed Samuel until he weaned himself after age four, but says she understands that the lifestyle "is not right for everybody".

"I grew up this way and never thought about raising my kids differently," Grumet said. 

I grew up this way and never thought about raising my kids differently

One of the other mums photographed, Dionna Ford, said she doesn't understand all the fuss. “It’s so funny that the women who ask breastfeeding parents to cover up wouldn’t write to Victoria’s Secret to ask them to take down their ads,” she said.

Reaction to the magazine was mixed. UNICEF's Australian patron for breastfeeding, Tara Moss, said she liked the cover photo but found the headline "really unfortunate, divisive and problematic". 

"I find [the photo] confident and brave, and I think breastfeeding should be viewed in a variety of contexts with a variety of women to normalise the sight of it. I commend Jamie for posing for the cover," she told Essential Baby.

"But ... motherhood is not a competition, as the headline seems to insinuate, and that cover line also positions 'extended' breastfeeding - and, by association, all breastfeeding - as freakish or a competitive sport of some kind. Breastfeeding older children is a taboo we need to overcome, and that headline is not helping."

Click through the gallery to read more about what happened behind the scenes of the Time article, which will be on sale in America on Friday May 18.