It’s time to share these honest portraits of Sam nursing her baby girl Cara. Sam kindly agreed to take part in my breastfeeding photography project titled, Mother Nurture. This breastfeeding photography project has been a love of mine for three years and I am so grateful that wonderful Mothers like Sam trust me to help share their story.
Usually when I arrange the sessions for my breastfeeding photography project Mothers ask to have their images in beautiful scenic spots. Luckily living in South Wales means we are spoilt for choice for those spots. When arranging Sams breastfeeding photography project session we talked about the beautiful gardens and castles in our town. But eventually Sam decided she wanted to document hers and Caras breastfeeding journey in a way that felt real to her, in her own home. She wanted to show the truth of what life with a newborn is really like and I’m so glad she did.
Sam also shared her incredible heart breaking story of her breastfeeding journey with all her children.
“My journey into breastfeeding hasn't been plain sailing. It started with the birth of my eldest son who had several complex medical issues which meant he was unable to swallow. I expressed my milk for him to be tube fed for the 5 months that he was alive. When my second son was born I was determined to feed him at the breast but we struggled right from the start with a poor latch and a fast milk flow. We kept at it and eventually after months we finally settled into our own little routine. I never found feeding particularly comfortable or easy but through stubbornness (some would say perseverance) we breastfed together for 14 months when, because of complications with my then 3rd pregnancy, we had to wean early.
My 3rd son sadly arrived 17 weeks early but was offered my expressed colostrum on a cotton bud during his NICU “cares”. We decided after the death of our youngest son, that we wouldn't try for any more children. Roll on 4 and a bit years later and a surprise 4th baby was on the way. I was again determined to get breastfeeding right this time. I'd trained to be a breastfeeding peer supporter after the birth of my second son and had helped to run the Abergavenny Breastfeeding Group for a couple of years and had helped countless other mums to feed their babies comfortably. I knew what I was doing this time around. After a whirlwind 17 minute labour out popped my daughter and we had immediate skin to skin. I'd been very specific in my birth plan that I wanted our first 3 hours together to be uninterrupted and we got exactly that. My daughter went to the breast well and was able to suck for Wales! I'd never felt anything like it! I was careful to position her well, line her up and pop her on the breast how I had taught all those other mums but something just wasn't right. I ended up in excruciating pain and damaged nipples after the first few days. I would be crying out in pain during every feed and dreaded seeing those hunger cues from her. I was thankfully referred by my wonderful midwife to see the Lactation Consultant who helped us get things right. We're still seeing her now at 9 weeks old, things aren't perfect but they're so much better and we're sticking with it for the long haul. It takes time, my house is a little messy and I spend lots of time binge watching Netflix, but that's OK. It's only temporary.
My advice for new mums, breastfeeding newbies or experienced, It's OK to find it hard but make sure you ask for and accept any and all help offered to you. Don't get wrapped up in outward appearances. It doesn't matter about the piles of washing waiting to be folded or the breakfast things still on the table. I don't care if you haven't washed and brushed your hair for a few days, or even a week!
At some point we've all cried while feeding our babies, whether from pain, discomfort or feeling overwhelmed at the responsibility of caring for this tiny helpless person. You're not alone, it's just people feel the need to hide the hard bits from view and show the world a happy smiling face, with a perfect family, house and life. But we all know that simply can't be true 100% of the time so don't feel like you're failing if your life doesn't look insta perfect right now.
Finally look up wonky winding. I promise you it's a game changer!”
Thank you so much to Sam for sharing her story with us all, I’m so grateful. If you would like to see another session from the breastfeeding photography project click here.
The breastfeeding photography project, Mother Nurture, is an ongoing project so if you would like to be involved and document your own breastfeeding journey, please get in touch.
We’re always celebrating and supporting breastfeeding Mothers over on my instagram so please come say hi!