PBAP, World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month 2016 – Austin Breastfeeding Photography
Another year, another round of PBAP photos taken in the Austin, TX area! I spent more time on the administrative side of PBAP this year (please visit our new WEBSITE) than I did behind the camera, but I still managed to capture some moms breastfeeding in some really “Austin” places! I also had a really fun lifestyle breastfeeding session which I will include in this post.
Every year I am blown away by the support of small businesses for this project. It truly is a testimony to what a breastfeeding friendly city we live in! We have a pretty incredible breastfeeding community here, too. In fact, this year I photographed 2 women who are on the Central Texas Breastfeeding Coalition Board! They work so hard to raise awareness and increase support for breastfeeding in our area.
Breastfeeding continues to be a hot topic. This year PBAP was featured on Scary Mommy, Babycenter, Huffington Post, People, and Babycenter Espanol… and the argument is always the same… WHY is it necessary to share these images? The answer lies in the question. The more you see something, the more normal it becomes. And the more normal it becomes the less need there will be to question it. The sight of a mom breastfeeding in public hasn’t normalized yet. We are still so hung up on the HOW and the WHERE and the WHY. And the shame. Oh, the shame. That is perhaps what I struggle with the most… the number of emails and messages I receive regarding the shaming of mothers who choose to breastfeed in public and without a cover. In many cases they are afraid to speak out about their experiences. They are afraid they won’t be heard, or worse, rejected. And they know the law – although for most states SAYS they are legally allowed to breastfeeding in public – will not ENFORCE that right. There is still no recourse for shaming, harassing or banning a mother for breastfeeding in public. PBAP sessions are not only a way to normalize breastfeeding for those who see the images, but also a way for the mothers being photographed to be heard. Having their photo taken empowers them and gives them more courage to breastfeed in public! So, our mission is two fold.
We will press on. We have come so far and yet are still in the thick of it. It gets discouraging at times but there is no turning back! Here’s to another year of impactful images that will help destigmatize something that is normal and necessary to breastfeeding success! Here’s to the brave moms who agree to be photographed and who share their stories to raise awareness. These are the 5 moms who I photographed this year. I’ve included some of their thoughts on motherhood and breastfeeding.
Kathryn, mother of 6, says of her session (which took place in a church she holds close to heart)… “I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes, as I gaze upon those beautiful photos you took.
Gianna weaned today.
I don’t even know how I feel about it, yet. But I do feel incredible gratitude. Gratitude that you captured our last few days together as mama and nursing baby in a place that is so very special to me and my family. She knew she needed to keep going until I had those beautiful images. I’m not sure a thousand thank you’s are really enough, but you have them all.”
Marisela (mother of 2) said of her in-home session: “The photos are beautiful and capture this time and these moments perfectly.”
Next up are Naya and Asia, members of the Central Texas Breastfeeding Coalition. Nay, Asia and I went to End of An Ear Record Store for our session! Naya says “We’ve worked hard in our two years of breastfeeding and have overcome a lot: medication that affected my supply right after birth, painful breastfeeding from tongue and lip ties, postpartum depression and anxiety. Making it to this point has been such a wonderful reward after the struggles. Breastfeeding in public has always been something we’ve always done. While I used to get that little bit of hesitation, I’d look down at the face of my hungry son and realize that it didn’t matter. There is virtually nothing anyone could say to make me stop feeding him right where I am.”
Asia says “Before I became a mom I was a record collecting, punk rock girl who hung out with the band after every show. After I became a mom everything changed and it was really difficult for me to find my identity and where I fit in as a mom. It took a while for me to realize that I can be a mom and listen to records too. As silly as that sounds, I just had this idea of motherhood in my head and records and punk rock were not part of it. Now, on a Sunday afternoon you’ll find my kids and I cooking food in the kitchen with the record player going and singing and having fun. I found my motherhood!”
I photographed Alissa at Symphony in the Park this summer. Alissa, mom to sweet little River, says “Breastfeeding in public is vital to moms to be able to get out of the house for more than an hour at a time. Can you imagine having to go home for every meal you eat? Leaving work or school to eat lunch because you are afraid of what your peers or boss might say? That would be oppressive and a huge hassle. Breastfeeding moms have to deal with that decision daily – risking the criticism of their peers, to feed their babies and toddlers. It shouldn’t be that way! I breastfeed everywhere I go, in part to show solidarity to moms who are hesitant about it. Babies deserve to eat in public just like everyone else, whether or not a breast is involved. moms deserve to nurse without worrying about how others feel about it.”
Thank you to all theses mamas for their contribution to PBAP! To see more PBAP photography, visit Laura Eckert, photographer of New Creation Photography.