Mother breastfeeds baby in graduation photo to show: 'You don't have to give up a career to have kids'

Candid photo was taken at graduation ceremony in Australia

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The Independent Online

A photo of a graduate in gown and mortarboard breastfeeding her baby has been Liked over 170,000 times on Facebook.

The University of Sunshine Coast posted a photo of Australian mother Jacci Sharkey and her six week old son Alek on its official Facebook page yesterday, alongside a message of thanks from the mum.

Sharkey says she was not trying to make a statement with the picture, but was pleased it received such a positive response all the same.

"I never expected it to go crazy. I thought I'd be really happy if it got 100 likes and then it's just gone out of control," she told ABC.

"There has been a sea of thank you messages from people. Some were saying they were really worried about starting university but that I've helped them through it.

"It was really heart warming ... you do come across your keyboard warriors but it's just nice to see the positive outweighs the negative."

Sharkey, who studied human resource management, said she hoped the photo would show mothers-to-be that childcare and academia can be juggled.

"It wasn't a statement [on breastfeeding] or anything like that. I would have sent the same picture to the uni had he [Alek] had a bottle or a sandwich ... it was just the fact that I'm a mum, it's not I'm a breastfeeding mum, just I'm a mum," she said.

"It was really a message of thanks and that other mums can do it as well.

"You don't have to give up the career to have kids and you don't have to give up kids to have the career ... you can have it all."

Alek, along with her 20-month old Ari, were both born during her three and a half years at university.

"Just because you're a mum doesn't mean you have to be cooped up in your house all the time," Sharkey added.

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