Recently I had a chance to take a break from the flow of summer family photography sessions and newborn shoots to do something a bit outside of the box. Britt from Infinity Family Services asked if I wanted to donate time for a World Breastfeeding Week Photoshoot to raise awareness and a bit of $$ to help end the isolation that motherhood often brings.
At face value, this sounded like a fun opportunity, but I had mixed emotions. Why? Well, World Breastfeeding Week Photo Shoots often feel like it paints breastfeeding as this sunshine and roses, whimsical dresses, and smiling babies scene while primarily highlighting the longest breastfeeders, the happiest stories, and sometimes the person behind the Mom seems missing.
Why I decided to join in a World Breastfeeding Week Photoshoot
Please don’t hate me for saying that. There is nothing wrong with it if this is you. However, what contributes to motherhood’s isolation is our inability to hold space and celebrate everyone’s story. Those who breastfeed for two days or two years, exclusively pump, use donor milk, or despise and cry through feedings. Especially, still searching to figure out how the role of Mama marries with the person’s identity before kids.
When I go into a home for a newborn session, I notice what unites us as mothers/parents is the isolation we often feel from our stories.
That’s why after hearing Britt’s idea to shine a light on everyone’s Milk Story, I realized this was something I could wholly stand behind. The goal is to share the unique story and journey that we all have and celebrate the crap out of who we are as individuals.
Read on to see a few photos, along with the stories that accompany this group of parents.
What do you wish to say to others who are just starting on their breastfeeding/lactation journey?
“Give it time, don’t give up, but listen to your gut. Breastfeeding is a learning curve for two, so it gets easier, and so much is wild in those first weeks. However, when your intuition tells you that something isn’t right, listen to that, you are valid, and you know your body and your baby better than anyone.”Tess
“Your worth is not determined by your ability to produce milk or feed from your body. Each feeding story will be different. Reach out and have a consultation with a lactation consultant.”Aubrey
“Nobody has a perfect, obstacle-free Milk Story. You’re not alone. It won’t always feel as heavy as it feels in those early days. Don’t let the story you’re telling yourself inside your head about how it “should” be keep you from reaching out to receive the help you need and deserve.”Brittany
“Ask for help!”Alyssa
“Believe in yourself. You know you and your child best and will be the best judge of what will matter most for you. If you believe something is wrong, trust yourself and find the most qualified person to help out. If everything is going great, you don’t have to switch things up just because of someone else’s opinion. Finally, you are going to get through the tough times. Yes, they do end!”Alexandria
“Be patient with yourself and your baby. Meet with an LC if you have questions or difficulties. Breastfeeding can be hard at first, but it gets easier with good support.”Megan
How has motherhood changed your perception of your body/body image?
“It has been so much unlearning. I have always struggled with body image, and parenthood came to challenge that even more. My body experienced so many changes in size, shape, texture, etc., but that’s life, and much like parenthood, there are seasons to my body and even who I am. I am learning how to navigate that and be grateful for this exceptional body that’s carried me through life and grown four healthy, thriving children.”Aubrey
“Becoming a parent has brought me through a complex journey with my body. Feeling feelings of my body not being my own is complicated, but also realizing my body’s potential and strength has given me an appreciation for it that I never had before.”Kalix
“Motherhood has shown me that my body can do amazing things even when I feel the worst about myself and that my body can give life and I need to love it no matter how it appears to others”Lauren
“Motherhood has left me soft with marks like it has for most of us. I thought if I lost weight and got fit after my son that I would “look like I hadn’t even had a baby,” I lost 80lbs. still “looked like I had a baby.” I got pregnant again and ditched my diet and workout regimen. After giving birth a second time I decided to accept and embrace that I will always “look like I had a baby” no matter the number on the scale. I hope people look at my skin and “know I had a baby,” it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”Megan
“Motherhood has healed a lot of body image problems I’ve faced. My legs and arms are strong to carry my babies, my soft tummy is cozy for cuddling, my boobs are still full of nourishment. I feel like there is work to be done, but I’m able to love my body at every stage of its life.”Alyssa
What has been/was the biggest challenge/obstacle in your breastfeeding/lactation relationship?
“I have always struggled with oversupply, which comes with clogged ducts and constant leaking, often in public or at other embarrassing times. I had pumped in field conditions and been away from my baby early on, and spent more than my paycheck to mail milk home when I was in the military. My story includes through pregnancy and pumped through a NICU experience. All my babies have had oral restrictions, with varying latch struggles. There are so many little things that have made my story interesting and brought about lots of tears. My Milk Story doesn’t feel devastating or insurmountable, but I am proud of all the little speed bumps I have overcome along the way”Brittany
“The biggest challenge in my breastfeeding journey was filtering out all the different opinions and “rules” that I was told at the beginning. I received so many conflicting messages that I was overwhelmed and didn’t know who to believe. I had to figure out who was giving me sound, evidence-backed help and who was giving me uneducated opinions. Trusting in myself was also a big challenge for me. With so much doubt in what I should do, the doubt naturally turned to whether I could do it. Having the self-confidence to say, “No, thank you. I can figure this out on my own” has a huge step forward for me.”Alexandria
World Breastfeeding Week Photo Shoot Wrap Up
Proceeds from the World Breastfeeding Week photoshoot went to Spokane Mama to help end the isolation of motherhood. These stories are such a small piece of their stories. For the full Milk Stories of these amazing humands below, head to https://www.infinityfamilyservices.com.
Do you have a “Milk Story”? Share it below or send me an email. I’d love to cheer you on.
XO – MB
A Spokane based Family and Newborn Photographer