New mom Anna Young started pumping breast milk while running a half-marathon, and shared the photo online to support the #normalizebreastfeeding movement

By Julie Mazziotta
Updated September 19, 2016 03:05 PM
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Big Cottonwood Marathon & Half/www.runrevel.com/bcm

As new moms know, when the time comes to pump breast milk, it’s not really something you can ignore.

Anna Young, a mom to a 5-month-old daughter, was running the Big Cottonwood Half-Marathon Sept. 10 when duty called. Luckily, she had prepared for the moment and whipped out a breast pump to get her milk out without stopping during the 13.1-mile run.

“I originally planned on sitting at one of the aid stations or on the side of the course, but I’m a little competitive and was excited about how well I was running,” Young, 27, tells PEOPLE. “I decided to walk and pump at the same time.”

Young, a former collegiate runner, fed her daughter right before she left for the race at 4:30 a.m., but she knew that her body was used to nursing around 7 a.m., 15 minutes after the race start. So she practiced pumping in her sports bra the day before, and packed her pump in a Camelback. When the time came around mile 8, she pulled it out and kept going, and the race photographer happened to snap a photo.

“I remember looking up and seeing the photographer lower his camera so I thought he intentionally didn’t take a picture. So I was a bit surprised when I saw it uploaded with my race results,” Young says. “I don’t believe most of the people running past me could tell what I was doing, but I did have one woman look back and cheer me on because she knew exactly what I was doing.”

After seeing the photo, Young decided to share it on the Occupy Breastfeeding Facebook page to support the #normalizebreastfeeding movement, especially after her own struggles with nursing.

“I had a rough start and nursing was not going well for me or my daughter. I was in an immense amount of pain, my daughter was gaining weight very slowly and never seemed satisfied after feedings. I thought something was wrong with me and couldn’t understand why breastfeeding just wasn’t working,” she explains. “Because of the struggle I had with breastfeeding, I looked to my local Le Leche league group and the Facebook group Occupy Breastfeeding for support. Posting this photo was an attempt to thank the breastfeeding community and an effort to help normalize it.”

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The photo now has over 11,000 likes and almost 2,000 shares, and Young hopes that it helps other moms feel confident about breastfeeding.

“Even though I was nervous about pumping during my race, I hope it helps other mothers to not be afraid to nurse their children in public,” Young says. “I want other moms to see that you can still take time to do the active things you love and nurture your baby. My daughter’s needs come first, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the things I am passionate about together.”

“Breastfeeding and motherhood do not limit what we are capable of, and it can change your life in the best possible way.”