#PBAP2016 | St. Augustine Photographer

Every year I talk about #PBAP and I worry that I sound like a broken record, so this year I had one of our PBAP2016 moms fill in and write the annual blog. Take a look at what she has to say and enjoy this slideshow of all out PBAP moms! 

"For 6 years now, I've been pregnant or breastfeeding or both. It is an exhaustively beautiful phase of life, and sometimes, I wonder how I got here. Deep in the sleepless nights and never ending diapers you find the sticky kisses, sweaty hugs, tiny fingers wrapping around your own, and eyes that peer deep into your soul making it a truly magical time to be treasured. I'll never understand why our society ever tries to make this time any less perfect than it is, by judging people for their parenting choices and feeling the need to impart their opinions on every move you make.

I look up, and it's easy to see why I became a breastfeeding advocate. I've mentioned before how I ended up nursing my children, never having put much thought into HOW I was going to feed them until I was due to have my first child. The learning curve was strong with that one, and we had MANY struggles.
Well meaning friends, relatives, and even healthcare practitioners tend to offer tons of parenting advice, that ultimately perpetuate the spreading of misinformation. They never seem to know what is "normal" for a breastfed baby, nor what it is "really" like. I was determined though, so I kept looking until I found support through peer groups and trained lactation consultants. Once we made it through the hard parts, the grass was truly greener on the other side, and it has been ever since. It is not up to me to determine what is best for anyone else's child, but it is up to me to offer encouragement and support for other moms going through the struggle. Having "been there, done that" you fall into this role among your friends, and I love nothing more than answering all those questions that seem to be TMI for most, and helping them reach the "greener" side.

For 2 years now, I have participated in the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project. Why?

I think many of the misconceptions associated with breastfeeding come from it being done largely "under cover" or at home. For years, the societal norm was the bottle. Breastfeeding was stigmatized and formula was the gold standard. Now, science has proven otherwise and health organizations are attempting to get the word out. As long as it takes for new research to be publicized and health care practices to adapt, it probably takes even longer for society to adjust.

The truth is, it doesn't matter how "society" feels or what the "norms" are. Society is often wrong. That is why movements happen, to change things. Hence, the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project was born.

Part of that change is showing women in the act of nursing to normalize it AND allowing women to feel comfortable breastfeeding however necessary. For some a cover works, for some it's way too hot and fussy. Breastfeeding can be difficult enough as is until you get the hang of it. 

More truth: if you are OFFENDED by a mother nursing in public, be it covered, uncovered, in a trench coat or topless, the problem is within you. Work on getting over your own insecurities so you can feel more confident in your own decisions. Then you won't be so "bothered" by everyone else's. (Something like #toeachhisown or #liveandletlive should go here, lol.)

On a more personal note, I can't say that I ever experienced any negativity about nursing while in public. Those most "bothered" were those closest to me, and they also know that it is true Emily style for me to say "uh huh" and continue on with whatever I was going to do anyway.

We live in controversial and trying times. More than EVER, I wish people would practice a little more compassion and empathy. If people are repeatedly telling you there is a problem, then there IS a problem, whether you've seen it or not. Whatever happened to putting yourself in someone else's shoes? As a WOMAN, it is my duty to empower and uplift other women.

If you see a mom struggling with her kids or trying to calm a fussy baby or whiny toddler or nursing in public, the appropriate response is "Good job, mom! Way to go! You got this!" That's it. If you don't have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all. And if you've never been there, your opinion is null and void.

If my speaking up or sharing a photo or whatever will give someone else the courage to stand up for herself or go against the grain of what she's been exposed to, then it is worth it.

This project is to bring awareness to societal norms that need changing. We must remember that: WE ARE society, and CHANGE is long overdue. I #PBAP because I want to #BeTheChange."
- Emily



Want to take a virtual trip around the globe to see what other #PBAP2016 photographers captured  this year?? Follow our blog circle over to talented Vanessa Huey by clicking HERE! And make sure you check out the projects new official website! You can find that HERE!