My first daughter was born 4.5 years ago. She had a tongue tie, I had supply issues, I went back to work at 10 weeks, and she was in daycare full time. Pumping at work, counting 1/2 ounces, pumping in the middle of the night (hoping she slept through), nursing as much as possible on the weekends. It was exhausting. We added formula when she started losing weight. We'd go out to dinner with friends and I'd escape to the car to feed her when she started fussing, missing out on conversation and getting my food in a styrofoam container. But I was too nervous to feed her in public.
When she was six months old, we went "home" to St. Louis and went to the zoo with some friends of ours who happened to have a baby boy that was born on the exact same day as our daughter. I was so nervous to be out and about, knowing that at some point, our daughter would get hungry. I'd have to feed her. In public. I must have spent the whole morning scanning for hidden spots at the zoo where I could nurse with some privacy and feel comfortable. The time came, she cried and I tried putting it off knowing what she wanted. Finally, we settled down, and alongside my friend, we nursed our babies in public. Together. And we survived.
Fast forward 3 years and 2 more children. It was no longer possible to run to the car to hide and leave my husband with two kids while I fed the baby. Whether we were at a restaurant, the zoo, or a park - why would I want to miss out on those experiences with my other kids because of someone else's insecurities about breasts? I've come a long way in my level of comfort with nursing in public since my first daughter was born, but it has taken time, a bit of wardrobe adjusting, and a wonderful support network of seeing other women's stories about nursing their babies in public. Many times, these stories were from facebook posts in private groups, but nonetheless, I saw them and was inspired and relieved. If they could do it, I could too!
This is why I initially applied to be a photographer for the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project (PBAP; www.publicbreastfeedingawarenessproject.com), and I'm so happy that I was selected to participate. I believe that the only way to normalize breastfeeding is to see it. I have hope that someone out there reading this and seeing these pictures is inspired to stay at the table with their family or at least not watch their other kids play at the park through the mini-van window.
I was thrilled to have so many local moms who were interested in participating in this project. Thanks to them, I was able to share some great images for World Breastfeeding Week 2016. I met quite a few awesome mothers who had inspiring stories to share about their breastfeeding journeys. For some, it came easy, for others it was more difficult. Some have never heard anyone say something negative when they nursed in public, others have unfortunately been the recipients of nasty glares and inappropriate comments. But they are persevering and I'm thankful that they allowed me to photograph them to help other moms.
Here is a collection of the highlights from those sessions along with some words from the moms who made this possible!
If you are interested in a breastfeeding photography session in the Kansas City area, please click here to contact me! I offer public nursing sessions as well as more formal portrait sessions.