Mind Body Baby is a beautiful Grand Rapids yoga studio that decided to honor National Breastfeeding Awareness Month by hosting a morning gathering bringing together postpartum moms & their babies. My contribution – a complimentary breastfeeding portrait series to each attendee. They also had some freaking beautiful flower arrangements for each attendee to take home from Tierra Colibri flowers. Other contributors were Suburban Madmom Custom Cookies, Daydreams by Paige and Terra Bagel GR.
A more accurate statement might be that parenting during all phases can be so isolating, but this day was about postpartum motherhood specifically.
How often do the moms who attended this event have the opportunity to gather like this? How many of us have an opportunity like this and how often?
I wonder what parenting through the postpartum phase would look and feel like if we got to do this more often? Would the load we carried feel lighter? Might it feel heavier for some of us? How do we create communities that supports parents and allows them to feel less heaviness and less alone?
I realize this is a lot of questions and not so many answers. My gut says that we are living lives that feel so ‘together but separate’ these days. We are more connected than ever but we are moving so quickly that we rarely get to pause and drink it all in because we must get to the next thing.
As a Mom whose babies are older now, maybe my perspective has either shifted or else I have more headspace than I did in the early years. Maybe I just get more sleep now? Standing in this Grand Rapids yoga studio and watching the babies were giggling, smiling, crawling & eating felt like something I could have used more of though. Parents finding space to share their struggles and their wins and how they’re finding comfort in the space between is something I’ll never tire of seeing.
“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”Brene Brown
We need to celebrate and weep and laugh together more. Ideally we need more of these spaces & that they need to be accessible for all parents. It would be amazing if we started creating different types of spaces for this to happen so that everyone has a place, instead of the ‘one size fits’ all approach for solving problems in our society.
While I’m a huge supporter of breastfeeding, it feels important to note that all parents cannot breastfeed their babies. Also worth noting is that all parents are deserving of finding communities where they can connect with other parents. This event focused on providing portraits to breastfeeding mom’s and that’s amazing because breastfeeding mom’s do need support. However, all parents need support. All babies need fed. Sometimes bottles are the answer, with either breastmilk or formula. Not all mother’s bodies are able to produce milk at all or able to produce enough milk. Being able to continue breastfeeding over a sustained period is sometimes a privilege that some mother’s have and others do not. For example, mother’s returning to work at 8-12 weeks postpartum and occupying jobs where they do not have the luxury of consistent opportunities and a private space to pump.
Choosing not to breastfeed or being unable to breastfeed is not a moral failure. All parents can bond with their baby during feeding time while they are nursed or while we give them a bottle.
“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.”Brene Brown
However, in doing so we deprive ourselves of connecting with incredible humans simply because they walk a different path. When we spend more time in community connecting with others we have the opportunity to see their humanity. This allows us to learn to appreciate that we are a diverse group of beings who all have very different experiences. It only makes sense that we achieve the same outcomes using very different sets of resources and skills.
I don’t usually spend my weekend photographing breastfeeding sessions at Grand Rapids yoga studios. My favorite way to spend a weekend is photographing families at their homes and on vacation.
I love finding the joy and the quiet in my clients’ lives and turning them into art. If this sounds intriguing to you, take a peek at what those sessions look like here.
If you want to share thoughts on parenthood or have questions for me you can head on over to my contact page. I love to hear from you.