Award-winning newborn photographer Felicia Saunders’ inspiring message to mums is, ‘no matter how you choose to feed your baby, you are absolutely amazing.’
Her beautiful photos capture the loving bond mums form while feeding their baby — whichever feeding style they choose.
In honour of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month, Felicia is reminding us all that alongside the ‘breast is best’ sentiment – there’s the reality that ‘fed is best’.
Her poignant image captures three women, each feeding their baby in a different way – by bottle, by feeding tube and by breast.
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The pressures of baby feeding
According to Felicia, her inspiration came from her own experiences. She explains she felt pressure to breastfeed, or else she would be considered a failure.
Despite trying incredibly hard to breastfeed her baby, Felicia had no luck. Her baby had a condition that stopped him from latching properly. She tried all manner of methods and sought the help of a lactation consultant but still had no joy.
Being unable to breastfeed her baby left her feeling shame and guilt.
Finally, she bottle-fed her baby with formula and seeing her son ‘milk drunk’ and putting on weight was a delight.
The lesson she learned is ‘you do you’. What’s best for one mum or one baby might not be what’s best for the next person.
Indeed, as mums, we need to constantly remind ourselves of this. While social media can be wonderful for showing the reality of motherhood, we are also bombarded with idealistic images. And unfortunately, all too often, it’s these ‘perfect’ images that we feel pressure to live up to.
After Felicia let go of the stigmas associated with baby feeding she was able to enjoy her baby and motherhood.
Sure, she recognises that an incredible bond forms between a mum and baby during feeding but this happens in many forms. It’s not exclusive for breastfeeding mums.
Different stories of baby feeding
Like felicia, the three women she photographed each have their own baby-feeding story. And each tale is very different.
Pictured above is Mykel Cooper with her 10-month-old daughter, Marlee. Born a month premature, Marlee spent her early life in the Intensive Care Unit.
During this time Mykel was constantly travelling between her home and the ICU. Initially, she managed to breastfeed Marlee but eventually, she had to pump and bottle-feed her daughter.
She says that as a community of mums, we need to support each other in difficult times.
The mum pictured above, who wishes to remain anonymous, poses with her 19-month-old son. He was born severely premature and received donor breastmilk, which was given via feeding tubes, for the first nine months.
Still unable to consume food or liquids by mouth, he now has blended foods given through a G-tube.
Imagine the heartache you would feel watching your baby feed this way? With these photos gaining so much attention, his mum hopes that more mothers can be open and supportive of different ways of feeding. After all, not every mum has the choice to feed in the traditional way.
Courtney Espejo (pictured above) poses with her three-month-old son Isaac. While she has been able to breastfeed, her message is that if a mum nurtures and feeds her baby as best she can, the baby will have a strong bond with its mum no matter what.
In support of all baby feeding methods
These beautiful baby-feeding photographs have certainly been well received. On her Facebook page, Felicia wrote:
I wanted to say THANK YOU so much to all of those who have shared this Art piece! I couldn’t have even dreamed up the response I have experienced! You are all so SO amazing and I appreciate all of the kind words and I am so humbled. Thank you again to the 3 BEAUTIFUL Mommas and their AMAZING Babies! My heart is so full!
The Facebook comments show great appreciate from mums who have each had their different feeding struggles.
One mum posted:
Thank you SO much for sharing this beautiful photograph with the world. We had no choice but to tube-feed our ‘Tin Man’ once we finally brought him home from the hospital. He required open-heart surgery right after he was born (and has had two more since!) but it was the feeding issue that made me weep anytime I thought about it. This just reinforces what I learned a few years ago…feeding your baby is feeding your baby. No matter what form you use. It is something that is so personal for a Mama and I just love this so much for raising awareness of all of those babies that are fighting hard and those Mamas that didn’t have a choice between breast and bottle.
My daughter was trached and currently still tube fed and so many people think it’s “gross” or “weird”. I hope this picture helps with some of the stigma placed on tube feeding — Said another
This is such a stunning picture! I’m a mom of a tubie and your picture has made it seem normal to tube feed. I can’t thank you enough for this.
Thanks for being inclusive to all methods of feeding with your gorgeous photos.
As a mom who has breastfed, bottle-fed, and tube-fed the same child-this is amazing. Thank you for this.
We all have had a different feeding experience with our children and love how you’ve highlighted that!!
Thank you SO much for this photo I needed to see it. All the local photographers are doing strict breastfeeding pictures. I have twins with G-tubes who I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed.
The overarching response from the comments is ‘thank you for normalising the other ways of feeding baby.’
Both the amazing images and the honest comments and feedback are a true reminder that as a community we really need to support each other. No baby is the same and no two experiences of motherhood are alike. We all need to do what’s right for our families and encourage other mums to do the same.
Check out more beautiful mother and baby images at Felicia Saunders Photography.
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