Erika Ray Photography » blog

The Other Side of Breastfeeding

Whenever you discuss breastfeeding, you should be prepared to discuss the other side of it: Mom’s who don’t.

This breastfeeding vs. non-breastfeeding is one of the first battles women engage with each other.  It pits woman against woman.  Mother against Mother.  It’s one of the first, but there’s plenty that have called women to find their swords and point them directly at other women.  Medicated vs. Natural.  SAHM vs. WM.  Crying out vs. non-crying it out.  Public vs. Private Schools.  Pinterest Birthday Party Moms vs. It’s Your Birthday AGAIN Mom.   You get it.  You’ve been apart of some.  It’s natural because we believe so deeply in our parenting choices. But those battles tear us down to the core.  It’s a true shame because we’re the most powerful when we’re on the same side.  That side should always be giving our children the very best of Us not the best according to someone else.

For a while into my Motherhood journey, I fell on the side of an obnoxious Pro Breastfeeder.  It’s the breast and it’s the best thing for any child!  You know the cry and you’ve seen the studies that lactation activist cling to.  You’ve heard it and maybe even experienced guilt, shame, and sadness because you didn’t breastfeed.  I’m sorry if you felt that.  I’m sorry if you continue to feel it whenever you see photos of mothers easily feeding their children.  I really am.  Anything that makes you feel less of a mother or woman is disgusting.

Here’s my position on most Motherhood-centric arguments: make the best choice for you and your family.  Some choose breastfeeding and others don’t for a variety of reason: adoption, lack of milk, work schedules, pain, had no plans to nurse their child, etc.  I don’t judge your reasons and I expect women to not judge mine.  Anytime  a woman is shunned or disciplined for nursing her child in public, I want to lose my mind.  A disgusted glance at me while I’m trying desperately and discretely remove my boob so my child stops screaming in the store?  “You aren’t going to whip them out here are you?”  Yes, thank you, I am.

And on the other side of the coin: A non-breastfeeder asking a nursing mom, “Hey did you see the study that proves breastfeeding isn’t that important?!”  That’s rude.  The snide comments from the nurse who says, “You know breastfeeding is what you should be doing” as she passes you the bottle you asked for.  Imagine hearing that hours after having your baby?  That’s insensitive in general, but extremely insensitive during an incredibly difficult time.

I know some Pro Breastfeeding Momma will cite all the studies and cling to the Breast is the Best battle cry.  But I’m more on the side of Moms making the best choice for their family.  I’m proud that I was able to nurse both boys.  Am I a superior Woman because of it?  Hell no.  It was the best my choice for me and my family.

Whether you nursed your child exclusively for the first year or decided that formula was your option, I don’t care.  You’re giving your baby the very best of you.  Your best.  Not what I or any other person deems should be your best.

The following women are giving their families the very best of themselves.  And for them it’s breastfeeding.

I remember the pain, the long hours, the frustrating latches, the hard boobs, the wet stained shirts, and the weary glances.  But I also remember the looks from my child, the encouragement I received when it was difficult, the sleepy giggles, the grasp on my finger, the tiny chubby and fumbling fingers blindly reaching to rub a soft blanket, the comfort I provided, and I remember the nursing.  These are the reasons I had to photograph these women.  Not because I’m shaming women who aren’t breastfeeding.

I’m celebrating these women giving their best.  Give me your best and I’ll celebrate that too.

breastfeeding 123breastfeeding 124

breastfeeding234breastfeeding 126

breastfeeding 125

  • Erin Chauvin - Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I breastfed my daughter for two weeks and pumped for another month. I had no support the first time around and no idea what I was doing with only horrible lactation consultants who never returned calls as a resource on top of post partum anxiety that went undiagnosed until my daughter was 4 months old and I finally realized there was something wrong. I switch to formula at a month old and dealt with leaking, engorged, sore boobs for four months afterwards because I couldn’t mentally make breastfeeding work. I was obsessing over ounces and dirty diapers and poop color/texture/smell. I was mentally exhausted. I felt SO guilty over deciding to switch to formula for SO long and now I look at my three year old and marvel at how smart she is and how well loved and realize that my life was started again when I chose my mental health over breastfeeding for her. Knowing now so much more about breastfeeding and what’s normal and what the first postpartum weeks are like now, I realize what happened and how to change it for my next babe. I’m thankful for the choice I had in how to feed my baby and glad that she’s just as marvelous and healthy.August 11, 2014 – 2:20 pmReplyCancel

  • stephanie - One of my greatest regrets is not having any images of me nursing any of my three children. I nursed for a combined 5 years, you’d think I’d have something to show for it besides beautiful, saggy boobs. These images are a gift for these families. Thanks for sharing.August 12, 2014 – 8:56 amReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared.