The Feed Your Baby Project
Date – July 11, 2015
Breast is Best. We have all heard this saying at one time or another. While scientifically I agree whole heartedly, 100% with the statement, on the general term “breast is best” I have to disagree. Sometimes breast is not best for a situation or a family. Maybe mom doesn’t produce milk, or doesn’t produce enough milk. Sometimes mom is working shiftwork that doesn’t allow for a breastfeeding relationship. Sometimes mom can not mentally handle the stresses and demands of breastfeeding. Sometimes baby is ill and can not take breastmilk. The list goes on and on, and sometimes we get so caught up we don’t see whom we could be hurting.
I don’t judge anyone, or care what parenting decisions other parents make, as long as they did the research and make an informed decision on what is right for them and their family. The parenting decision you make, doesn’t effect me at all. And as long as your baby is happy and healthy, that is all that should matter to anyone.
I’m not sure at what point society started putting breastfeeding and formula feeding on opposite teams. Why it’s a one is good, one is bad kind of thing. It should be a “We are both feeding our babies the best way for our family” kind of thing. As parents we should never feel compelled to defend, or explain a parenting decision we choose to make. It is nobody’s business except yours, your partners, and your babies. Unfortunately society has created this culture where we feel it is okay to judge others and get involved in the way they choose to raise their children.
The biggest one I see constantly is “That woman is breastfeeding her baby. With no cover! Where everyone can see”. Which has spurred the #normalizebreastfeeding #breastisbest #supportbreastfeeding movement. This is fabulous for moms who are struggling and need that support. The first few weeks especially breastfeeding is all consuming. Then after a while when you finally get the hang of it you start hearing “When are you going to stop nursing” or “Isn’t that baby a little too old to be nursing?” The movement to normalize extended breastfeeding is a large and important piece of support for these moms.
However what we seem to forget is where is the support for mothers who have tried. Who sat up crying with their babies at 3 in the morning because they couldn’t feed their baby. Who are struggling to find donor milk to supplement. Who have to supplement with formula. Who have to formula feed their babies. Who chose to formula feed their babies. Where is the support for the moms who pull out a bottle to feed their baby and get looks of disappointment, and overhear remarks about having to bottle feed.
I want to start the #parentwithoutshame #suportallthemamas #feedyourbabyproud movement.
We should all support eachother because we don’t know the struggles someone may or may not have gone through. But most importantly, it’s really none of our business if a mom decides to breastfeed or formula feed. Nurse or pump. Supplement. Their decision doesn’t affect us. It affects them. Their partner. Their children. That is it. The only thing we can do is provide the information. But breastfeeding and formula feeding are both feeding your baby. Nourishing your baby. Comforting your baby.
No parent should feel shame in the way they feed and nourish their babies or children of any age. Period.
No parent should feel they need to cover up or hide what they are doing to feed their baby whether it be nursing or bottle feeding.
Feel proud that you made a decision that is right for YOU and YOUR BABY.
That was the goal of this project. I want to show that no matter HOW you choose to feed your baby or child. For how long you choose to feed your baby, be proud. Be strong. Be happy. Be loving. Be tolerant of others. And more importantly, be confident in your decision. Parenting is 1000 times harder than you can ever prepare for. Each and every one of us needs all the support we can get. Look out for you and your family and trust that everyone else is looking out for theirs; and for your fellow parents be a shoulder to lean on, an ear that listens… and a good friend to share wine with on those bad days (because we all have them).
For this project I placed a model call in a local parenting group. In 48 hours I had over 50 responses of people who wanted very badly to be a part of this project. Some of the stories had me in tears. Some of the stories made me laugh out loud. But EVERY story made me realize how important this was for me to do. It made me feel very confident that this would mean something to someone. It was by far the most difficult model selection I have ever had to make.
“With my son, breastfeeding was a struggle. It was 3 months before we got a good latch – lots of things were going wrong for us. We preservered and I still nurse him 1-2 times a day. With my daughter it was much easier.”
“I have been able to pump milk to send a donation to the Rogers Hixon Milk Bank and I am working on my second donation for them!”
“I am a single mother, single during pregnancy and still single. I have a ton of support around from me family and friends and I absolutely love my new role as a mother. Throughout my pregnancy I planned to breastfeed and spent an enormous amount of time gathering information and resources to prepare me for breastfeeding success. Never did I think that it was something that would not come naturally to both of us. When my son was born he had low blood sugar and ended up being admitted to the NICU for 5 days. He struggled immensely with latching as he was very congested after birth and had a tongue and lip tie. He even struggled to take a bottle. Once we were home we dedicated all our time to mastering breastfeeding with help from 4 midwives and 5 lactation consultants. No matter what we tried, he just wasn’t getting enough. After insufficient weight gain I had no other choice but to switch 100% to formula after 5 weeks. I cried giving him that first bottle of formula and felt so incredibly sad. After accepting it all and realizing that I did everything I could do I am now happy to say that formula feeding works best for us. I am proud that I am able to support my baby on my own and proud of the mother I am today.”
“I find the infant feeding topic very tough because it seems mothers are criticized no matter what”
“Being a parent has completely changed my life and promotes me to be a better person every day. I am soaking every moment in.”
“I had a very tough pregnancy”
“He is our lucky charm and my husband and I thoroughly enjoy every second raising him”
“I breastfed my son for 11 months. I loved everything about it; the closeness, the quiet, the convenience, the price, the dependance he had for me”
“He was 5 months when I became pregnant. Therefore when my daughter arrived, my milk came in fast and strong. By the second week I was becoming rather frustrated with how breastfeeding was going this time around. I spent more time fussing with her and cleaning up puke then enjoying the serene time.”
“She has a malformation in her lymphatic system which doesn’t allow certain fats to flow through (Breastmilk is unfortunately made up almost entirely of these fats)”
“We still have a very long journey ahead of us in terms of what her diet will be. All we care about is that we get to keep our girl and the cysts were not cancerous!”
“Breast or bottle, you need to do what is best for your baby. In my daughters case, unfortunately she will never be able to latch on to me again, for she cannot just have breastmilk again or the cysts will grow.”
“I hate how society portrays one against the other. As mothers we need to change this and support each other in whichever decision we make.”
“When my son was born he had low blood sugar and struggled to latch so was supplemented right away with formula. Eventually we weaned off formula and we discovered a tongue/lip tie. We got those fixed at 4 weeks and things were looking up. at his 2 month appt he weighed 13lbs 2oz, but at 4 months only weighed 13lbs 7oz. At this time I began supplementing again with formula and ended up weaning off the breast.”
“It gives me some freedom, but it was definitely an emotional time making the switch.”
“I was praised by family and the doctor for making it to 4 months, but I had desperately wanted to make it to 6 months”
“Thank you for the opportunity and for offering such a powerful statement. Breastfeeding vs bottle-feeding has always been a debate and has switched many times over which one is “better” for your baby”
“This is my first child and we didn’t have a picture perfect, magical start together as I had a not so fun battle with the baby blues/minor ppd as well as breast feeding struggles.”
“The meaning behind this project hits close to my heart because I fought for months to breastfeed from latching problems and lip and tongue tie to thrush. Finally at Christmas time I thought we were out of the woods as things were getting a lot easier for us. Suddenly in February my milk production plummeted and she started loosing weight and no matter what I did I could not get production back up.”
“I personally struggled with fighting the formula feeding stigma. And after a difficult and emotional decision she is strictly formula fed.”
“The formula feeding vs. breastfeeding wars really break my heart because no one knows the journey that mom took to the decision she made. A fed baby is all that should matter”
“Our parenting journey started 3 years ago with what was supposed to be an incredible home birth with midwives, but at 8 days late and meconium, I ended up with a quick hospital birth. I nursed him very successfully until 17 months when I got pregnant with my second and he quickly self weaned. We had no supply issues or latch issues.”
“Then our second came along! The midwives tried to tell me the second birth is faster and easier and nursing is easier the second time around… but they clearly didn’t know about my second. I had a successful home birth, but due to minor complications it was much longer than anticipated. Then nursing seemed okay the first week but I had some concerns about his latch. He was tongue and lip tied and it was making him gassy due to a bad latch.”
“I also mad major oversupply which made him choke. It was a terrible combination. He ended up having 3 nursing strikes before he was 12 weeks old. He had to have ultrasounds on his kidneys and bladder because he kept having pink crystals in his diaper.”
“Getting his ties cut = GAME CHANGER. Cranky boy was able to nurse much easier and started to gain weight more rapidly.”
“My son is my first. My birth traumatized me a little (a lot.. lol) and left me in a daze for a couple months, where I don’t feel I took advantage of that early time we had together.”
“Breastfeeding for me is something I’ve always wanted to so and I felt very lucky to be able to do this as it seems many women have a rough go.”
“I have been consistently breastfeeding for four years straight without any interruptions.”
“Before I gave birth I knew very little about breastfeeding. When I was pregnant I subscribed to the free formula samples. I had no idea what type of parent I wanted to become, or what choices I would make. As my son was born I embraced everything breastfeeding. I am currently breastfeeding through my second pregnancy being pregnant with our third child.”
“Nursing while pregnant is something I never imagined I would ever do… once, yet alone twice.”
“Two years ago I started volunteering with Breastfeeding Niagara. I truly value empowering women and moms in their choices and raising knowledge and confidence.”
“I have never encountered any medical or physical struggles in my journey which I am grateful. I have experienced plugged ducts but that does not pale in comparison to the hurdles some women experience. I take great pride in my volunteer role and the compliments I receive from the women who find strength in my posts. I breastfeed in public with confidence to help rid of the stigma and shame other women may experience.”
“I work shift work full time so maintaining a breastfeeding relationship with my working schedule has been an obstacle. My place of employment did not have a pumping room which I had to advocate for. Now other women I work with use the room as well!”
“I am very much a pro choice person all being said. I know what my choices are, but I do not discriminate against others. Prejudices are an easy thing for everyone to develop but being respectful is a choice.”
“My initial goal of breastfeeding was 6 months. Then I upped it to one year. Then to two years. Now I have decided to let my daughter decide when she’s done. My only struggle was that my cycle didn’t return until after two years which messed with my plan of my babies being two years apart. I am now 4 months pregnant. My new goal is to tandem nurse when the baby arrives in December.”
“My biggest surprise in my journey has been the constant support of my hubby. He has been my rock and helped me to persevere.”
“I was younger when I had my oldest son and our breastfeeding journey was very short (about a month). When he was about a year old I had a breast reduction.”
“Fast forward 9 years when I had my second son and was bound and determined to breastfeed. I was on herbal supplements and eventually on domperidone but we made it until about 11 months when I stopped all supplements and I would nurse when I could, and we supplemented with milk when I didn’t have enough.”
“Now onto my third. My milk has come in beautifully without any help. I am nursing her and she’s doing great.”
Every story, struggle, and situation is different and unique to you. It is my hope that through these images and stories everyone can see that all we are trying to do as parents is do the best we can for our children. We all parent differently. It would be a very boring world if everyone parented the same. We need to support each other. We need to normalize breastfeeding. We need to support extended breastfeeding. We need to support bottle feeding, combination feeding, supplemental feeding, exclusive pumping, and every other type of feeding.
As long as the baby is healthy, happy, and shown love and support, thats really all that should matter. Lets build each other up. Lets take pride in our decisions and be confident we are doing what is best for our families.