August 1st-7th is World Breastfeeding Week. A whole week dedicated to celebrating the promotion and normalization of breastfeeding. And as a maternity, newborn, and baby photographer, I couldn’t let it pass by without a blog post, right 😉 ?!
I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, myself. I breastfed both of my babies. AJ until he was 15 months and Max until he was 18 months.
Breastfeeding my boys was my choice and it worked well for me, my babies, and our family.
And believe me when I tell you… I know how lucky I am that everything worked out the way I wanted it to. Both boys were born healthy and were able to nurse right away and neither one had any issues latching. My body was able to supply enough milk for them and once I returned to work full-time – I was able to take at least 3 pumping breaks per day to keep up with their needs while I was away. While the journey was slightly difficult and painful in the beginning… as a whole, the experience was relatively easy for me.
But, I know that it’s not that easy for everyone.
And I don’t want this week – this week that is meant to be a celebration – to bring on any feelings of guilt or shame for any mom out there who has had a different feeding experience. If you are an expecting or new mom, I want you to know that just because breastfeeding doesn’t work out – it DOES NOT mean that you are a failure. It does not mean your baby will grow up to be sickly or malnourished. And it certainly does not mean that you won’t have a strong bond with your baby.
How do I know this, you ask?
Because I’ve SEEN it…
I’ve seen new moms struggle with the pain. I’ve seen them struggle with the feeling of failure when it’s not working how it should. I’ve seen Moms so exhausted, they just can’t do it anymore. I’ve seen Moms who just know that it’s not the best choice for them. I’ve seen Moms who had every intention, hope, and dream to breastfeed their baby – suddenly become a better and happier mother when they let go of the guilt and give themselves the ok to feed their baby formula. And I’ve seen them all still be AMAZING mothers and still have amazing bonds with their children.
So, along with celebrating breastfeeding this week, I want to celebrate all Moms and all the ways we feed our babies…
I want to celebrate moms like Shannon.
At baby Lola’s newborn session, Shannon and I talked about her struggles with breastfeeding – about how desperately she wanted breastfeeding to work, but that it was so painful for her. We talked about how she felt like she must be doing something wrong. She saw lactation consultants. She went to breastfeeding groups. It still was not working for her. It was painful and it was exhausting. I remember talking to her after she made the decision to formula feed… and it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She was now bonding like she should with her daughter, she was getting the rest she very much needed, the pain stopped, and she was a happier and healthier mom because of it. She wrote a great post over on her blog about her struggle with breastfeeding and why she’s a better mom for not continuing with it (I would recommend definitely checking it out if you are having struggles with the breastfeeding journey). And the last time I checked in with them at baby Lola’s 9 month session… I can assure you, that the bond Shannon and Lola share is very strong and Lola certainly doesn’t look like she’s lacking at all in the nourishment or love department 🙂 .
And moms like Colleen.
Colleen had a rough recovery after her c-section. She was exhausted… emotionally and physically. But, she was also strong enough to know that she needed help… and that in order to be a good mom to baby Gabriel, she needed to be well-rested. And that wasn’t happening while she was exclusively breastfeeding her son. Colleen and her husband Zack made the decision to supplement with formula. This choice was not only good for Colleen, but it was also good for Zack and Gabriel as well. Gabe had a happy and well-rested mama and Zack was able to participate in the bond of feeding his son. I love this photo we captured of their bond at their newborn session. For the record, Gabriel is now a happy and thriving almost 6 month old 🙂 .
Let’s celebrate moms like Katelyn.
Katelyn’s daughter, Emma, was born with a birth defect called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. What is that exactly? Well, basically it means that Emma had a hole in her diaphragm. And that her abdominal organs were moving up through the diaphragm and into her chest cavity. The problem with this is that the heart and lungs are not able to develop properly. Not all babies born with this defect survive. When Emma was born, she was not handed over to her mother to bond, latch, and nurse. She was whisked away to a team of nurses and doctors who were fighting to keep her alive until they could repair her diaphragm. For Katelyn, the choice to not breastfeed was made for her by her daughter’s condition. She would not be able to form that breastfeeding bond with her daughter because Emma was on a ventilator for the first 2 weeks of her life. When she came off, Katelyn tried to nurse her, but Emma, being 2 weeks old already, just couldn’t get the hang of it. Katelyn then pumped breastmilk for as long as she could to supplement the formula. And Emma is now a happy, healthy, and EXTREMELY smart almost 3 year old (and a big sister!), who is not affected at all by the lack of breastfeeding bond with her mother.
And moms like Jessica.
Jessica’s story is much like mine. For her and her family, breastfeeding has been a wonderful experience and is working great for them. Jessica and Grayson’s breastfeeding relationship is at 10 months and is still going strong! For Jessica, when she started breastfeeding… she didn’t expect it to be the fantastic bonding experience that it has turned out to be for her and her son. During their newborn photography session, her photographer had asked her if she wanted breastfeeding photos with her baby – and at the time she didn’t think that was something she wanted captured in images. Well, 10 months later… as she thought about the fact that her and Grayson’s breastfeeding relationship was coming to an end… she realized she DID want to have images of this bond. And now, when she looks back at those images years from now, she will be transported right back to that rocker… and that precious bond with her son.
Shannon, Colleen, Katelyn, and Jessica. All so different, yet they all have at least one thing in common…
EVERY SINGLE ONE of them is AMAZING.
They are loving. They are kind. They have a bond with their babies. And they all have taken a different path in the journey of feeding their babes.
So, during this World Breastfeeding Week… I don’t want any mom to feel guilty or ashamed for pulling out that bottle to feed her baby. Or for nursing her baby in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Or for taking 3 pumping breaks a day at work. I want them to know that no matter which way they choose to feed their baby, I support them.
And I ask you to join me this week in celebrating ALL the ways we Mamas feed our babies.
We exclusively breastfeed, we exclusively formula feed, we breastfeed and supplement with formula, we exclusively pump breastmilk, we pump and supplement with formula…
We all have different paths and yet we all have had the same results. Happy and healthy children.
If you are interested in finding out more about me and my photography – Click on over to the about me page or check out more posts from the Cleveland mom blog! Also, be sure to check out my portfolio to see some of my work and contact me to book your session!
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