This has been a true passion project for me. The roots of this project go back to my first baby, who I exclusively pumped for for 15 months. While he wouldn’t/couldn’t latch and transfer well, it was important to me that he still had breastmilk as I was able to provide it. But when people asked if I was breastfeeding I would sort of freeze- I didn’t really know how to answer, and it always was a little taboo to talk about pumping- let alone take pictures of it! While at the time the act may have seemed beautiful to me it certainly didn’t seem physically so, not until later after the fact.
While I have been able to breastfeed my second baby, we had some of the same struggles and still pumped in the beginning, used a nipple shield, and as a plus size woman we were (and are really) most comfortable nursing in football hold or with a pillow. Sometimes those things seemed daunting enough but- again, no one was talking about it. I struggled nursing in public in the beginning because I really didn’t see anyone else doing it the way I was, and was frustrated at the lack of photos and discussion about the things I felt represented ME. When I would ask in a Facebook group I would hear that yes, others had the same struggles and also used a pillow in public. But why weren’t we talking about it more, why weren’t we sharing photos of it?
And so this project was born. I worked with some amazing women to photograph them and their babies achieve the photos and videos you’ll see here. Everyone has a different story, but they are all valid and beautiful.
I invite you to read through the stories below. At the bottom you’ll find an instagram feed of the #ThisIsHowIBF hashtag. This is for you to join in! Share photos of your nursing relationship, whatever that may look like on instagram with that hashtag for everyone following along. If you have ever had the thought “I wonder how other people do this”, well here’s your chance, be the first to share and others will follow! If you don’t have instagram you can also join in on the Facebook discussion, find the post with this video on https://facebook.com/carissalynphotos
This is Amanda and her fourth baby, Willa. Willa was her third baby that she breastfed, and with all 3 she supplemented as well,- her own pumped milk, donor milk, and formula. She used a lactaid brand supplemental nurser to be able to supplement at the breast, which can save time over a bottle but also can have other advantages such as providing additional stimulation which can help supply.
Alana is Meryl’s second baby, and she was able to breastfeed both children for 16 months. With her first baby she lived in a foreign country and only her doctor spoke English- so they figured out breastfeeding without having the support system many of us are fortunate to have.
This is Mo and Karla, and their boys Mo carried their first baby, Rudy, and Karla was able to induce lactation so they were both able to breastfeed him. When Karla carried their second baby Linus, Mo continued to nurse Rudy so they were both able to breastfeed for Linus as well- including tandem nursing! Both boys nursed into toddler years.
McKenna is Kaleigh’s third baby. She exclusively pumped first for her twins for 5 months, and them pumped for McKenna as well after struggles with supply and anxiety. She was able to pump for McKenna for over a year! he says it was an exhausting but wonderful journey.
Maggie has 3 boys, and Gabe here is the youngest. She was not able to produce breastmilk, but still wanted him to have some so she sought out a donor. She was able to match with someone through one of the Facebook groups created just for that purchase. Gabe’s donor was able to supply half of his milk for months!
This is Meryl and her son AJ, nursing at 2 years old.
Well, this is me! This is Kimberly, my second baby. It was important to me to include a pumping photo, since I didn’t take any when I was actually EPing for my son. We overcame some initial challenges with a tongue and lip tie, and used a nipple shield for a while.We nursed with a pillow or in football hold exclusively for many months (and often at 14 months still do).
This is Jess and her third baby, Amelia. She was 19 when she had her oldest, and says she had never even held a baby before! She breastfed for a short time before switching to formula. When her second was born, she was a lot more educated and nursed him for 13 months. She calls Amelia her “barnacle baby” and she breastfed past her second birthday.
I want to add a special note here- the first photo here of Tiffany’s daughter Nadia when she was an infant were the first breastfeeding photos I ever took! And now a few years later she is nursing both Nadia and her son Olin after continuing to nurse through her pregnancy. She says sometimes it was hard for Nadia to share at first but now they’re “super sweet and supportive of each other having milky time.” She is proud of her commitment she’s made to nurse them both for as long as she has even though it wasn’t something she had pictured herself doing.
Jameson is Brianna’s first baby- but the second is on the way! They had a hard start with pain, supply issues, and conflicting advice from nurses. Though they had to supplement a while they stuck it out and Jameson nursed for 2 years. She’s proud of how far they came, and how it became an important part of their daily and nightly routine.
This is Brittany and her daughter Willa. Willa is 2 and they are continuing their nursing journey.
Here’s a photo that’s extra special to me. One of the themes as I’ve heard so many stories is that success often comes down to having a support system, and a good lactation consultant. These are just some of the amazing women in the group I personally attended, and Jeanette Frem, the IBCLC who runs them. Jeanette and this group are a huge reason I’m successfully breastfeeding, and also how I connected with some of the beautiful women in this project!