This is what love, health and motherhood looks like.

Wiki: "The breast is the upper ventral region of an animal’s torso, particularly that of mammals, including human beings. The breasts of a female primate’s body contain themammary glands, which secrete milk used to feed infants."

Tata's, fun bags, tits, boobs, whatever you call them, they are still just fatty tissue that contain sweat glands and milk ducts with a nipple on it to deliver the goods. So, what the hell us up with the whole "offended by breastfeeding" thing? Are we seriously so conditioned to think of breasts in an only sexual (and therefore apparently obscene) manner that we can not wrap our brains around the fact that we can and do use our bodies to feed our young? Why aren't we questioning why this is...and why this is more prevalent in the United States more than in any other country? In one argument, the bible was brought into it stating that God declared Adam and Eve indecent and made them cover up because of the whole apple incident. This article sums up my answer to that better than I ever could as it is actually from their perspective while still exactly what I would be trying to communicate. I am not religious so I am not confined to the rules and the ideology behind it, and therefore I am free to make up my own mind. MY mind and heart tells me that our bodies are beautiful and that we have nothing to be ashamed of when using them to create life or sustain that life with the milk that we produce for our young. Or bodies do this for a reason. The one thing that makes us mammals is the fact that we have mammary glands. To deny breastfeeding or call it indecent is to deny your humanity. I say yours because I have nothing to do with other people's problems with nursing....it's not my problem. My humanity is doing just fine, thank you very much. 

Recently I did a photo shoot with a friend of mine, Paul Petersen. He's someone I am very comfortable in front of so I asked him if he would be comfortable doing some nursing shots. It wasn't like I wasn't going to have to nurse while I was there anyways, and I think that the imagery of breastfeeding is just so beautiful. It's about so much more than the breasts. It's about sharing our bodies with our babies, sacrificing ourselves to give them the very best. We did it for 9 months and all we are doing is continuing that when they get out. It is just as natural as the pregnancy itself and should be considered an essential part of it. Looking back on Renaissance art and the beautiful depictions of nursing these babies is something I wanted to channel during this photo shoot.

I wish my hair was pushed back, but I still love this.

The bonding that takes place during breastfeeding your young is unbelievable - I know because I was unable to nurse my first (although I was very young and did not even know that there might be some outside help like a good lactation consultant) and the bonding was very difficult. When he refused to nurse from me I felt rejected and this and other components of the situation led to a severe case of Postpartum Depression. I believe that had I been able to nurse Calvin I would have had to have taken better care of myself, but more importantly I would have not been able to run off and let him stay with my foster parents so i could party and try to forget everything. I was very young, I had been 17 for 2 months when I gave birth to Calvin (naturally, by the way - so if a 17 year old girl can do it you can totally do it too). It wasn't pretty and I was already a foster kid who was in and out of lock up and on probation since I was 12. I had NO idea how to be a mother because I never had one. I had no idea what love was let alone how to love. This was all learned and Calvin had to go down that hard road with me. A HUGE part of what brought me towards healing myself and becoming a better mother was having my second child, Kiyra, and nursing her successfully. Today I am happy  to say that I am not only a good mother, but a GREAT one. Better than most I would even dare say. I can't give breastfeeding all the credit, but I know it was still a great contributor.

THIS is why I wanted photo's taken of my nursing relationship with Zander - which has been a dream. We have been compatible from they very start. I experienced very little discomfort, which was a nice contrast from the cracked and bleeding nipples I experienced with Kiyra (which I think had a lot to do with putting the nipple butter on after every feeding right from the very start). I wanted pictures that were not only artistic, but realistic to what we go through together. What women all across the world go through to nurse their children.

Yesterday baby beloved, inc. along with some other sponsors were doing a premier for the movie BABIES and I was manning our table while nursing Zander, uncovered but still fairly discreetly, and there were multiple women who said that they were envious of how I could nurse him so freely. I was called "brave", but I don't see it this way. What this tells me is that these women would love the freedom to feed their children comfortably and in front of others but they feel the pressure not to, so they don't. I am not brave, I just refuse to participate in what I disagree with. I find it interesting that people will disagree with something but will remain quiet and will even participate in what they see as wrong or unreasonable by altering their own actions for the comfort of others. What about our comfort? When are people going to start going out of their way to make YOU comfortable? As women we are naturally givers and we want things to be fair, we are often accustomed to sacrificing of ourselves because of this. We've got to come to a realization that our wants and needs are just as valid and important as anyone else's. The change starts with your ability to demand it.

So, here are the photo's I can't post on Facebook because they *GASP* show breastfeeding and nipples! I am very proud of them and I hope that you can see the same beauty in this as I do. If you are a nursing mother, I hope that you can be "free" enough to breastfeed unapologetically as I do. I believe I have a responsibility to my children to do this so that they may know a world without such intolerance - at least I know they will not be contributing to it.

IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S THEM. Remember that. Carry it with you everywhere.


I'm {obviously} proud to be a breastfeeding mother - and I hope you are too. :)
Happy Mothers Day!


Tiny Footprints said...

Beautiful!!!! It saddens me that those wonderful photos can't be shared on facebook. It saddens me even more that there are people who see a beautiful picture of a baby eating naturally and NORMALLY and find it anything less than GLORIOUS!

Tiny Footprints said...

Beautiful!!!! It saddens me that those wonderful photos can't be shared on facebook. It saddens me even more that there are people who see a beautiful picture of a baby eating naturally and NORMALLY and find it anything less than GLORIOUS!

Betsy said...

I love LOVE your photos, especially the ones of him climbing on you. Jack nurses that way more often than not, and I can't tell you how often during the day my breasts are bared. My children don't bat an eye, and I hope that I am raising a generation of people who love and respect the breast for all its purposes. Happy Mother's Day to you, friend.

lumin said...

Awesome photos!

In public, amongst strangers, I have no problems whatsoever breastfeeding, probably because they leave me alone. It is when I am amongst our guy friends that I find I cover more and/ or find a quiet spot away.

I'm still not sure how I feel about that. I enjoy the quietness of the moments, the intimacy. I enjoy wrapping ourselves in the mystery that is the physical bond between mother and child. When we have friends over & it is time to nurse Anamaria, all of us girls go to the back room. And the conversations that happen in those moments are the most honest, bare, and close to the heart.

And so I wonder, if sometimes the act of BFing spontaneously creates a circle that is women-only. Whether public or private, whether 100 women, or just one. And I wonder if I even want men to be a part of it. Or if I'd rather they stand outside of it, averting their eyes, respectfully or uncomfortably, in the presence of the power that is motherhood.

I think most people who do not like BFers in public are uncomfortable with the quiet intensity of the moment. And it seems that when men & children get too comfortable with it, they no longer respect the moment. When I am BFing, I don't want to field questions like, "Do I have any clean jeans?" and "What time is that thing tomorrow?" At this point, I think that is why I prefer the sanctity, if you will, of the women-only moments.

gypsy_jewels said...

I get that, Jen. I think it's different when you are doing it out of the desire to do it. Like being modest - it's a personal level and choice of how modest we want to be...for ourselves. THAT is when things get sticky to me is wen we are doing it for other people's comfort.

Nicole @Team Pipkin said...

What beautiful photos. Thank You for sharing them. I was a young mother when I had my first child. I was 20 when I had my first and breastfeeding was so hard. When the second one came I was 22 so I didn't even try. They both were formula feed. Then I had my last one at the age of 33. I breastfed her and she was such a natural and made it so easy. I breastfed her until she was 3 1/2. I know...a little too long. But I loved the time shared with her. Seeing your photos brings back those memories. Happy Mother's Day!

Supermom said...

OMG!! I am totally in love!!!!!!! I take random pics of nursing my babes too!! I love them!!!!!!!

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Judy - MommyNewsBlog.com said...

What a a great post - thanks for sharing all of the fabulous pics!

paplawsky said...

lovely, Juliea. I wish these could go on facebook! I am going to forward your site on to my pregnant sister and a few friends. I am sorry I didn't have professional photos taken when my babies were nursing. Beautiful.

Mia said...

I just saw these and they really made me smile. ♥ Now you have me wanting to have some professional nursing shots done! :)