Having sat on both sides of the fence I find it challenging to find the balance between celebrating and supporting women who breastfeed, while not excluding or offending moms who, for whatever reason, chose a different path.
My oldest daughter is turning five next month (WHAT?!). When I was pregnant with her everyone was adamant that I breastfeed. I didn’t want to. I tried it. I hated it. We stopped. She had formula. I don’t feel the bad for her having formula in the slightest - and if your baby gets formula you shouldn‘t feel bad either.
All that to say - The Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project exists for a reason. We all have it drilled into our heads that 'breast is best' from the second you start as much as thinking about having children. But we don’t see it. We don’t see people nursing their children out and about on a regular basis - and it’s not because babies magically aren’t hungry when they leave the house.
This year has been amazing for so many reasons. The project has gotten a lot of attention locally - far more then I could have ever dreamed. But my favorite parts? Meeting new moms. Forming new relationships. Watching moms on the project form friendships. Connecting a community.
I had moms walk into their sessions timid and walk away feeling strength. I photographed a mom a few months ago nursing her baby as part of a regular non-PBAP session. She picked a private location and didn’t want the images shared. Easy Peasy. But you want to hear something amazing? That mom reached out to me halfway into the first week of the project and said she shared one of her breastfeeding images and was interested to being a part of the project. How amazing is that? I had the biggest grin and happiest heart when I read that message - knowing and seeing the difference we’ve made in empowering moms.
That’s what it is all about. Reminding moms that what they are doing is normal, natural and OK. They shouldn’t feel shame. They shouldn’t feel embarrassed to feed their children. Showing moms that they are not alone in their struggles. That they are not alone in this journey. And showing the rest of the world that seeing a woman’s breast with a baby attached really is no big deal.
I’m a painfully practical person and I think there is something to be said for finding beauty in the daily grind. I love Leilani’s vision for the project for that very reason - showing, celebrating and normalizing moms breastfeeding in everyday life.
Rock on mommas!
*PART TWO IS LIVE! Find it HERE!*