This blog post is for all the mamas and mamas to be out there. I’ve been thinking about this and wanting to write about this for a while. But then I’d worry how people would perceive it, and wonder if I was getting too personal and maybe even too “off topic” (this is a photography blog, after all.)
Then, last week, I asked a question that I ask all of my mamas at my newborn sessions and her answer touched on being apologetic and defensive. That made me realize that I need to get this out there. When I do my newborn sessions, I try to get all babies into a deep sleep. This allows me to safely pose them in all of those adorable positions that so many people love. I always ask moms (and dads) a few questions that help me gauge where the baby is at and what the next step is to getting the baby to sleep. The first question is: When did baby last eat? And the question that I follow up to that, is: Are you breastfeeding?
This one particular mama, answered “no” but then quickly qualified it with “because we tried and it wasn’t working.” This made me very sad – not that she wasn’t breastfeeding, but that she felt that she had to defend herself. A little bit of background on me – I am extremely pro breastfeeding and consider myself somewhat of a “lactivist”. I breastfed my oldest daughter and continue to breastfeed my two year old. I believe that there is a lot of misinformation out there, that not all pediatricians are giving correct advice and that formula companies are way too pushy. I also believe that breastfeeding is natural and normal and that women shouldn’t be forced to cover themselves when breastfeeding or be banished to a backroom. However, as part of a new breed of parents who have been fighting to educate people on breastfeeding, I think we’ve been isolating the parents out there who formula feed. Somehow, in all of our determination we’ve lost track of the core principal of our fight – helping mamas and babies. There are many mamas who, for many different reasons, cannot breastfeed or just choose not to. And as much as we want to promote that “breast is best” we also need to acknowledge that formula isn’t toxic waste and that every mama is doing the best that they can. All of us mamas have the same goal – to raise a happy and healthy baby/child. We all go about it in different ways. One of the best ways that we can help other mamas and babies is by supporting each other instead of turning it into a war of who is better and who is doing something better. I’m saddened that I do find other “lactivists” who shame mamas who formula feed. The only thing this shaming accomplishes is making mamas feel bad. As strongly as I advocate for breastfeeding education and normalization, I am also a staunch believer in building each other up rather than shaming and tearing each other down.
So to all mamas and mamas to be out there who might be formula feeding – I hope that in my enthusiasm to support breastfeeding that I never made you feel bad. To my client and all other mamas out there – whether you formula feed or breastfeed – never be ashamed. If someone asks you how you feed your baby – tell them with conviction. The only qualification you should add to your response is “and with love”.
Have you ever felt shamed for how you feed/fed your baby? Do you agree that we should be supporting one another rather than turning it into a competition? Though, comments are closed on my website (for security reasons), I’d love for you to comment on my FB business page or discuss on social media. Please be sure to use #missZphoto when you do.
Enjoy two equally beautiful photos.