A Year of Celebrating the Breast
Images by Blue Fitz Photography. Event co-hosted by Sage Beginnings Doula Services. Thank you to all who participated in this calendar!
Images by Blue Fitz Photography. Event co-hosted by Sage Beginnings Doula Services. Thank you to all who participated in this calendar!
To promote acceptance of human bodies as inherently natural, innocuous, and not obscene, I’m proud to share this project celebrating Women’s Equality Day, Go Topless Day and the “Free The Nipple” movement.
By expressing this vision through art, we aim to encourage a change in societal and legal censorship norms to view bodies of women as truly equal to others.
If a woman wishes to feel the warm sun on her skin at the beach like her brother… to lay in the grass, babies grazing upon her chest while she picnics with her partner… to pop out of her home to retrieve something from her car without fussing to scramble for an appropriate ensemble… to garden in her yard without needing to keep the neighborly peace by donning a button-down… if she wishes to do these things, why can’t she?
On one level, because of the law. Did you know it’s illegal for women to be topless in public in 35 states, including while breastfeeding?
In a few states, women have a legal right to go topless in the same areas as men, but even those women cannot properly enjoy the freedom (rather an illusion of equality) when faced with risk of harassment and humiliation. Protection from this risk is a privilege men have enjoyed for a long time without even realizing it.
Men have legally been allowed to be topless in public since 1936, a freedom they too had to fight for in ways similar to today’s Go Topless movement. Gaining this legal freedom finally secured their right to go bare-chested on public beaches, in parks, pools, and so on. Men don’t always want their tops on, which is why they fought for their right to choose toplessness without fear of stigma or lawbreaking. Read More
🌻 These two milk siblings, blood brothers, M and J. Just over 5 years and almost 2 years old, respectively — the former the same age as my nursing journey overall and the latter the same as my experience in tandem nursing. Such tiny numbers really. Hard to imagine we were nothing and growing and birthing and birthed and empty and nourished more than once over in that amount of time.
M and J don’t like to be separated. Though they annoy each other and feel overwhelmed with the art of sharing from time to time, as siblings do, they prefer each other’s close company. J learns a lot from his big brother (like how to get dressed and sing) and M never hesitates to include J in his activities.
Their bond began when J was in my womb, every day growing stronger until one day he’d feel ready for life Earthside. From age 2.5 to 3.5 years, M watched my belly swell bigger and bigger. He knew his little brother was inside ‘swimming in water.’ He knew J could hear him so he spoke to him often. He said “Good morning!,” and “Good night!” every day for months, with a morning kiss and night kiss (and lots of extras in between).
He saw J for the first time around midnight, about an hour after he was born. I was laying in our bed with J on my breast. M gave J a kiss — a real, live, salty, good morning and good night kiss — right on his freshly born little head.
M had the honor of separating his little brother’s cord. We chose a Sacred Severance ceremony involving quiet, meditation, and burning of the cord instead of cutting. M, his dad, and our doula held candles to the cord in gentle recognition of this significant alteration. M was not present for the birth so this was his special contribution to our welcoming of J into the land of lung breathers.
J has known M his whole life. Though M was Earthside 3.5 years longer, it seems he’s known J just as long. Read More
I just returned from a trip to Washington D.C. for Genital Integrity Awareness Week, which was March 28th-April 3rd. A week full of seed-planting, countless conversations with principled conclusions, minds changed, futures salvaged… This is my kind of activism!
The mission as stated on the web site is to raise public awareness of:
I’ll cut to the chase right now: the answer is both yes and (sometimes) no.
It’s been said that breastfeeding is an art. The art of photography highlights the importance of this honest statement about breastfeeding.
Here we begin to view it as the beautiful, innocent, inherently harmonious and peace-giving activity it is (if we don’t do so already). And we notice it’s more than an activity, really. It’s a relationship.
In this way breastfeeding photos (and other art forms) reflect the many nuances involved in the relationship between a mother and her nursling. One that can’t be negated even when a mermaid costume, computer-generated rainbow, endless fields of lavender, or fog machines help set a more surrealistic scene (I know you’re curious, so just go ahead and Google those already!).
The subject matter is the same regardless of the brand of camera that captured it, or whether natural or artificial lighting was used. What we’re looking at is simply breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding photos are always candid and improvised even if attempts are made to pose. If you watch a breastfeeding photo shoot happen firsthand, you’ll understand the only one directing the scene is the nursling! Read More
Thinking about sharing your birth photographs with friends, family, on social media, hanging them up in your foyer, perhaps printing them in a coffee table book for home visitors to peruse?
Here are a few worthwhile things to consider first.
Here we are simultaneously tandem nursing my 4-year-old and 9-month-old sons. I rarely nurse them together because it can be overwhelming and aggravating for me — I get touched out so easily.
My husband took a video and I wanted to share it because it is so sweet to watch siblings bond as they nurse together. Holding hands, laughing, stroking each other’s faces and hair… ❤
It is a much different experience than you might believe if you weren’t acquainted with child-led weaning, breastfeeding beyond infancy, or tandem nursing.
Nursing our children is incredibly important to us. We’re proud, grateful, sometimes hesitant, always brave. See how quickly we all LEAPED at a chance to share some of our most treasured breastfeeding moments?
That moment when our babies gave us the big ol’ doe eyes, thanking us from somewhere deep in their souls for nourishing them? We couldn’t ignore it. And we’re so happy about it, we want others to notice too.
An innocently cute brelfie (breastfeeding selfie) trend like this should go viral and incite mad passion — even the World Health Organization said so in a UN briefing for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week.
We’ve been patient. So very patient. But we’re starting to get antsy in our nursing gliders and uncomfortable under the paisley tent-covers. It takes this degree of overwhelming social media with Tree of Life brelfies to normalize breastfeeding by tomorrow, when it really should have happened yesterday.
It was perhaps the first beautiful day of the season and hardly anyone showed up. The morning was slow, and though I was grateful to spend a few hours outside without nearly fainting from the usually oppressive Texas heat, we had come here to talk to people… a lot of people.
The turnout did remain slight all day, but the conversations we had were meaningful. Even those who seemed to think they had no personal history with circumcision certainly had plenty to say… or plenty left unsaid, for now.
At the end of the day, though I did feel somewhat frustrated, confused and deflated, I walked away feeling mostly just thankful. The best part is, I know I wasn’t the only one.
The power of transformation is an inherent gift of woman. The spider, snake, and butterfly are just a few of many creatures regarded as manifestations of feminine energy and universal symbols of shape-shifting. A master of creation, woman’s body is the original 3D printer. When she nurses a child, as Mark Twain once said, “she has no equal among men.”
Somehow still, many of us know discontent with or hatred for our bodies, whether transient or persistent. What’s worse is we believe it’s normal. Accepted to the point of expectation. This is especially true at the moment we inherit our mothering bodies. Through literally all forms of media and outlets for opinion, we are told before anything else that mothering bodies are not sexy, therefore not valuable, therefore invisible.
It’s a dangerous trajectory for the postpartum woman who is vulnerable, open, and recovering — she is brainwashed to confuse these things with weakness, brokenness, incapability, and decreased desirability. Read More
We changed minds last weekend. I actually saw the process happen.
Sometimes like this: a pregnant mother walks up, admits she hasn’t researched circumcision and has no opinion on it, is told there’s no medical indication for routine circumcision, and walks off with her eyes glued to a handful of information she just received.
And sometimes like this: a mother of circumcised boys walks up, her attention caught by “117+ boys die” written on a frame, says “I didn’t know any of this when my boys were born,” is told “I’m so sorry,” and assures us “Don’t be sorry! You are doing a good thing. Tell EVERYONE.”
It was clear our message was supported, even by many of those who were hearing it for the very first time.
We wanted people to know about babies. That all babies want to remain whole. That babies of both sexes are equally “too cute to cut.” We wanted people to know about foreskin. That foreskin is normal. That its absence is a big deal.
We had a message about parents, too. We want to help you. We support you. We have answers.
Wondering whether you should take photos of your birth? The short answer is… yes, you should! If you’re against the idea or on the fence, you might think you’ll be too bashful, grossed out, or nonchalant to ever want to look at them. But wouldn’t it be nice to know you have the option, just in case you have a change of heart?
If photography is in your birth plan, make a point to designate someone responsible for charging the camera ahead of time and setting the time stamps correctly. They should know how to operate the camera (especially in low-lighted settings because flash might disturb your labor). They should be prepared with a list of moments you don’t want them to miss (whatever you think will be meaningful to you — the birth altar you spent an hour setting up, crowning, first latch, separation of the cord, any surprise events, get creative!).
This weekend I attended The Global Big Latch On as a mother, a resource person, and an advocate.
So what’s the point of women and their nurslings congregating to breastfeed together at 10:30 a.m. for sixty seconds? (Most of the kids were latched long before and after, of course). First, GBLO wanted to set a new world record for the most children simultaneously latched to breastfeed, and for the most moms simultaneously breastfeeding.
This popular World Breastfeeding Week event also spreads awareness of all the different ways mothers breastfeed (nursing newborns, infants and toddlers, older kids, tandem nursing, adoptive nursing, wet nursing, with various apparatus like nipple shields or SNS, restricted diet nursing, supplementing, and exclusively pumping mothers were counted for the latch, too).
It intends to encourage support networks for families within their communities during the breastfeeding years and beyond.
I know he is only three and a half. He’s still such a little kid. Next to me, he doesn’t look so little, being more than half my height and all. It’s like that 2012 TIME magazine cover, you know, when Jamie Lynne Grumet nursed her three-year-old, balanced with his feet flat on a chair, and everyone thought he must’ve been graduating elementary school.
MaiTai is an old soul, this kid. But he’s still just a kid, or transitioning to what most people imagine when they think of a school-age child (he’s not quite there yet), and only four years ago he was a floating fetus.
For whatever reason, child-led weaning is controversial in our society (the superstitions surrounding it are unfounded, of course). Many a mother is pressured with interrogation into why her child is “still” breastfeeding, “when are you going to stop this,” declarations of “at his age he shouldn’t be so dependent” and the classic “I’m all for breastfeeding BUT…”
At a wedding one year ago, MaiTai was 2.5 years old and I hadn’t yet encountered a situation when I needed to make him wait to nurse. Some of the messages/comments on the post I wrote about our experience nursing there said he should’ve been able to wait “at his age.”
Really? Are two-year-olds really all that great at waiting for anything? In any case, sure, he could’ve waited long enough for us to relocate to a dungeon or wherever they deemed more appropriate — but there was no reason for me to say “not here, not now,” therefore it didn’t even cross my mind.
There was no good lesson in making my child wait for something he felt he needed — in a moment when I was perfectly able and willing to give it to him — just to prove to overly-interested others that he can hold his shit together.
In this story of a mother and child forced to quit nursing to appease family, the author writes: “Those who had demanded that she wean her toddler didn’t even know what that breastfeeding relationship was; they didn’t know what they were asking; they were ignorant, and didn’t even know what they didn’t know.”
That said… Now that I’m tandem nursing MaiTai and his baby brother Julep, we do often find ourselves in situations in which MaiTai has to wait to nurse.
(Scroll to the bottom of this post for ideas about how to set boundaries).