As a mother of two young children, Ivette Ivens knows that breastfeeding can be difficult, but she also believes it’s a beautiful thing.
“My breastfeeding experience is wonderful now, but I’ve been through the tough times when it hurt or leaked, or when people weren’t happy with me nursing in public,” the photographer, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I had to overcome all this and it made me stronger, more confident and even understanding. I wanted to inspire other moms and show people the divine side of breastfeeding.”
She is doing just that through a stunning series of photographs depicting mothers breastfeeding in truly beautiful settings.
“I frame the mother’s natural beauty, surrounded by her inner bliss,” Ivens says. “I accent her confidence, strength and self-love, because I strongly believe that if you love yourself, you’re able to spread the feeling and do beautiful things.”
The Illinois-based artist thinks nursing is a time when mothers can focus just on being mothers, so she wanted to celebrate that.
“Breastfeeding makes us sit back and relax for a moment, no matter how crazy the schedule is, and these moments are much needed for a busy mom who often forgets about herself,” she says.
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Ivens hopes her photographs – which she is turning into a book called Breastfeeding Goddesses – will inspire people to be less critical of moms and their desire to breastfeed.
“My hope is for people to understand mothers more and stop questioning their instinctive parenting,” she says. “Breastfeeding is instinctive – it’s how babies grow, and it’s how babies grew before there were bottles.”