I’ve been reading a lot of articles and responses to the articles about the February 6th “Nurse-Ins” at the various Facebook offices around the world. I’ve noticed one question that people keep asking in the comments is “Why is it so important for you to post these pictures of such an intimate moment?” I’m going to do my best to try and answer that question here.
I want to start by changing one word in the question. I want to change “intimate” to “normal.” Intimate implies an done privately between two people in a closed setting in a cherishing way. For any mom who is trying to feed a screaming one week old at 2am and trying to find her nipple shield because he’s having latching trouble, and it’s dark and you’re over-tired, this act is anything but intimate. Frustrating is what comes to mind. For any mom who’s out and about and who has a hungry kid, and decides to feed him right there in public, while sweet, this is not intimate. Natural comes to mind. For any mom who is sitting for over an hour while her child nurses himself to sleep, but she knows he’ll wake up screaming if she tries to stop the nurse-nap, this is not intimate (at least not after half an hour). Lonely comes to mind (if no one else is there for her to talk to) or distracted (if she is watching tv or surfing the net). But all of these moments are normal. Because all of them happen in the normal course of a breastfeeding mother’s life. Are there private moments where she looks at her child and is overcome by love and affection and amazement at how she can feed a tiny thing with only her breasts? Of course. But in my experience they are a lot rarer than some literature would have us believe.
Now, why would someone want to take pictures of such a normal activity and why would we want to post it on the internet? Because it is a part of our normal activity and we want to share it with our family and friends. The quotes in this article explain it even more eloquently than I can, so I’ll pause for a moment so you can go read it. Done? Ok, let’s move on.
Looking back on it, out of the over 400 photos of LP I’ve put up on Facebook (this is what happens when you don’t live near your family and you have the first grandbaby) only about 16 pictures are of me actually breastfeeding LP. That’s less than 4% of the pictures. I’ve posted a large number of pictures of him sleeping blissfully post-nurse in a “milk-drunk” state, but very few (comparatively) of him engaged in the act of nursing. After the event on Monday I’ve posted two more.
I want to explain the story behind five of the photos, why they were taken, and why I chose to post them.
I believe this to be the very first breastfeeding photo I posted:
This is the very second time I ever breastfed my Little Prince. He was no more than 10 or 11 hours old. It was right before we were about to take him home from the Birthing Center. That look on my face is a look of relief that he is nursing at all. We had trouble with his latch and my nipples in the beginning, so this good nurse was a very important part of the day for me. As you can see, there are at least two other people around us (my sister’s legs are in the photo, so she must be watching, and someone had to take the picture). Plus right before this there was at least one midwife around helping us. And another midwife came in the middle of this feeding to say hi. So, not sure how intimate it is. Also is part of the “First Day” set of photographs, as it was something that happened on day my Little Prince was born. As you’ll notice from that set, there are a lot of times my nipple is showing in a photo and I either blurred it out or covered it up with a big purple dot. Why was my nipple showing in so many pictures? Because I gave birth naked in a tub (you can even see the edge of the tub in this picture). However, there is a lot less skin showing in this picture than in many of the others.
So why did I post it? Because it was a natural part of the day my son was born. Because it was a moment that happened in that day, along with holding him, making silly faces at him, bathing him, and falling asleep with him in my arms. I didn’t even think “should I or shouldn’t I post this.” It just made sense to, along with everything else.
As almost any breastfeeding mom can tell you, sometimes you end up nursing in really funny positions.
In this case, my little prince had just started to figure out how to sit up (he was just shy of 5 months). So what happens? He latches on while sitting up, without me having to hold him. I tell my hubby to grab the camera and do a “look-ma-no-hands” kind of thing. I think the look on my face is priceless. It’s a pretty far cry from many of those intimate breastfeeding images we see.
I posted it because, well, it was funny. At least I thought it was funny. Looking back now, I’m actually more impressed that I was willing to post a picture showing my post-pregnancy belly much more than I was at showing my child breastfeeding. In fact, most of the skin you see in this picture is a baby in a diaper and my belly.
This next photo was posted for educational/desiring for kudos purposes. It is of me successfully nursing in my Moby wrap:
While I love love love my Moby wrap, one of the things I’ve never been good at is figuring out how to breastfeed LP in one. Oh I watched videos and tried a bunch, but I never could get the hang of it. Until one day it all clicked. So once he was settled, I took a picture to prove that I could do it. I’m still not great at Moby nursing and now that LP is older, if I have to nurse hands-free, I tend to use the Ergo instead. But at least I can say that I did it.
I posted this picture because I was proud of the fact that I finally got something that had plagued me for so long. Also so that other moms could see how it was done. BTW, if I hadn’t told you he was nursing in this photo, would you have even known?
Ok, I’ll admit it, I do have one “political” picture that I posted before the Nurse-In:
This was taken back in August, during World Breastfeeding Week. I took it and posted it to show my support of breastfeeding and how important I think it is. Although all the caption said was “Happy Breastfeeding Week.” I like how LP’s nose is all smushed against my breast in this picture.
Lastly, this is my favorite picture I’ve taken (so far) of breastfeeding LP:
Ok, I’ll admit it, this looks a lot like an intimate moment. It actually started out as a funny moment. LP was nursing to sleep one evening and placed his hand on my other breast, as if to say “I’m using this one now, but I’m saving that one for later.” I wanted to get a picture of that. Then I decided that I should be looking at him and not the camera. Somehow I caught this. I think it’s absolutely beautiful. The composition is nice, the lighting is just right, and the look on my face is a cross between loving and amused. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I could have someone turn this into a painting for me to hang in my house, I would. It reminds me of many of the beautiful pieces of art of breastfeeding mothers that I’ve seen over the years.
I’ll also admit that I wasn’t sure about posting this one to Facebook at first. Because it is such an intimate moment. Because only for the grace of LP’s hand is it within their terms of service. Because I’m naked and my boobs look huge. But I did it anyway, not to make a statement, but because I thought it was so beautiful and would make a good painting. I was actually nervous that I’d get some negative comments, of the type I am seeing in the comments in news article after news article about the Nurse-In, after I posted it. I guess I’m lucky that my friends and family are so supportive because I got nothing but “lovely pic” and “it would make a good painting” comments from them.
And just to prove a point, here is a picture of my Little Prince falling asleep at the dinner table after sort of eating avocado:
Other than I’m not in the picture, I’m not really sure how this is any different than one of him nurse-napping or dream-feeding from my breast.