Odyssey of Breastfeeding: Why I became a breastfeeding photographer
Updated: Mar 3
There are so many moments while feeding when you can gaze into your baby’s eyes and really get to know them. You smile at your baby, and while still attached they give you a little grin back which fills you full of love. There are moments when you are crying through the entire feed because the baby is having difficulty latching, but whenever you take them off they cry in a way that makes you feel sad and desperate. My passion for breastfeeding photography
started during my adventure through breastfeeding where I experienced the most amazing moments of my life, and I also experienced some of the lowest moments.
Some mums stroll through the breastfeeding journey. For most however, it is an odyssey. No matter how long or short the breastfeeding experience, it is an incredible shared journey. Personal to every mum, it can be empowering, make you feel very proud, joyous, and full of love. It can also cause physical pain, sadness, and feelings of hopelessness or inadequacy.
I have two children and have had two very different breastfeeding experiences, my youngest is still feeding today. Before becoming a mum I knew I wanted to breastfeed, I thought no further about it. I figured breastfeeding was something mums have been doing since the beginning of humankind, so surely it would be natural and easy to do.
Before you are actually ready to do it, breastfeeding is not something which is often seen or even much talked about. I naively assumed the baby would latch and away we would go. However, I had never breastfed before, and neither had my baby. It was a skill we would both have to learn together. The learning process was one which would continue to evolve throughout my child’s development toward her eventual weening.
I also had the preconceived idea I would be happy to feed in public without any difficulty or animosity. After receiving dirty looks, ignorant comments and rudeness, I began to feel embarrassed about something so natural. I vividly remember a day trip to Cambridge when my three week old became hungry and began to fuss. I knew I needed to feed her but was unable to find a place to sit in the crowded city centre. Her fussing quickly degenerated to a stressed cry which struck all my maternal chords, making me feel very emotional. In response to her now urgent need I just sat on the pavement and leant against a wall, because I had been made to feel that public feeding was somehow dirty I used a blanket to cover her. Since she was already quite hungry she was having difficulty getting a good latch. I ended up having to put the blanket over my whole body so I could see and help her to attach properly. After she finally attached I just stayed under the blanket, sitting on the dirty Cambridge pavement crying. My tears were wept from an intense mixture of emotions including helplessness and guilt, but mostly from frustration and a sense of anger that I was made to hide myself and my beautiful new born baby from public gaze simply because she was hungry and wanted to eat. Sadly this is still the most indelible memory I have of breastfeeding my eldest. It is also the only picture I have of breastfeeding my eldest. It is this memory and this picture which has made me passionate about breastfeeding photography. Mums should be able to have fine art portrait of this ephemeral time they have with their baby.
I am a family photographer, I find joy in capturing a portrait which shows a person’s character or freezes a moment in time which reveals the love between people. Through helping mums with breastfeeding, and going through my own journey I realised how I wished I had a picture of myself feeding my eldest which I could look back on. I am passionate about helping mums as a breastfeeding peer support volunteer and I have become passionate about sympathetically capturing breastfeeding moments so mums can gaze back upon this fleeting period of motherhood and their early relationship with their child and remember all the emotions of their special and shared experience.
If you are interested in getting breastfeeding portraits, please get in touch!
Originally written by Meg Cousins for The Baby Experts Suffolk in 2017