It’s one of the biggest struggles for new moms – returning to their careers while caring for a newborn baby.
After her photo of active duty military moms breastfeeding their babies went viral in September, photographer Tara Ruby had women from all over the globe reaching out to her about how much they connected with the picture.
“People would say, ‘I’m not on active duty but I have a full-time job, and when I look at that photo I see myself,’ ” Ruby, 37, tells PEOPLE. “There are other moms who are out there doing numerous other kinds of jobs, and I was like, ‘If you see yourself, then we should take a photo of you.’ ”
A friend of Ruby’s, who balances her career as a doctor with caring for her daughter, was the first in her new series, which features women of various professions nursing in the workplace. Then Ruby lined up another client, a firefighter, who had his wife pose in his uniform.
“That just got it going and it hasn’t really stopped,” Ruby says.
In March, she went to a convention in Las Vegas after people suggested finding a showgirl to pose, and quickly found a willing candidate.
“We did it outside, and she showed up in her huge feather headdress, and had the baby dressed up as Elvis!” Ruby recalls. “We had a lot of people who were supportive as they walked by. They were like, ‘You’re really putting out a message.’ ”
“Hearing the response there was really neat,” she continues. “We were definitely putting out something that people need to see.”
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Ruby is thrilled to see how many people the series has already reached, and hopes that it makes breastfeeding moms feel like they have support.
“It’s a global conversation because every woman is going to have that choice – whether she breastfeeds or not – because whether she wants to or not, if she has a baby she makes milk, so this is every single mother in the world,” Ruby, who herself faced the working moms’ struggle of having to breastfeed her son while an active duty member of the military.
“Are they going to go back to work? Are they going to continue to do this when they go back to work?” she continues. “This is a challenge for a lot of people.”
And while her inbox is filled with women who want to pose for her, Ruby has one dream client.
“Alyssa Milano. I have reached out to her every which way you can think of,” Ruby says. “She is just so pro breastfeeding. She was saying, maybe one day there will be a point where we can go out in the open and breastfeed and not have to worry about it, and I was like, ‘Yes! We should hook up.’ ”
Ruby believes getting Milano or another celebrity on board would really help other breastfeeding moms.
“You see them on TV, but secretly she goes home and breastfeeds, or she’s pumping during the day,” Ruby says of celebrity moms. “They’re still moms. It [would] just be such a sign of support.”