Breastfeeding can happen anywhere — even in a locker room in between periods of a hockey game.
Serah Small, a teacher and hockey player from Alberta, Canada, proved exactly that when she paused to nurse her 8-week-old daughter Ellie during intermission of her game. The new mom said that she signed up for the late-March tournament during her pregnancy because she expected to easily “bounce back.” But she quickly discovered it wasn’t that simple.
“This weekend I played four games with a short bench and really learnt how different my body really is,” Small wrote on Facebook. “I felt slower and lost at first on the ice. My body wasn’t doing the things my brain thought it could. But I have never been more proud of myself and my body.”
She forgot her breast pump at home, and started to feel her milk drip when she was out on the ice. So she decided to take off her jersey and gear between periods to breastfeed, and the moment gave Small a greater appreciation for her body.
“Being a mom is absolutely amazing and I’m so happy I got to do something I absolutely love while still meeting my babies needs,” she wrote. “Our bodies are amazing and this weekend was the first time I truly appreciated mine.”
Small’s mom also snapped a photo of the moment, which Small loved — but she was afraid to share the image at first.
“I have been so scared to post this photo that I absolutely adore. Why? Because society has made breasts sexual,” she said.
After talking with her lactation consultant from Milky Way Lactation Services, Small agreed to let them share it on their Facebook page where it quickly went viral with thousands of likes, comments and shares. That encouraged her to post another image on her own page, and Small tells PEOPLE that she was thrilled with the largely positive reaction.
“I would like to thank everyone for the supportive comments and messages,” she says. “When I read them I hear the empowerment in women, moms and families. I love hearing about those who have only covered for others and are now inspired to ditch the cover.”
Small says she wants to normalize breastfeeding.
“I just want all moms to know that they are amazing and inspiring in their own way,” she says. “Being a mom is hard and it’s amazing to see all these moms, women and men taking a stand and making a movement to stand up against mommy shaming.”
And as she added on her Facebook post: “the only way to normalize breastfeeding is to show that it can be done anywhere, anytime!”