Her feature on The Huffington Post is going viral, and her e-mail inbox is currently overflowing with media requests. Caitlin Domanico of “United We Feed” is a World Mom on a mission through photography to unite mothers in how we feed our babies. We look forward to following the journey she has launched as she continues to capture the diversity of mothers feeding their babies around the globe. We are excited to bring you her guest post on World Moms Blog today…
To the mom who is feeding her baby,
You decided how to feed your child long before they were ever born.
“I am going to breastfeed.”, you said. Or maybe you said, “Nursing is not for me, I will pump.” Maybe neither of those were an option for you. Maybe formula was your milk of choice, or maybe, just maybe, your doctor informed you that it will be necessary to use a tube to help your child thrive.
I see you. I see you feeding your child every single day.
I see you feeding your child on very happy days, and on very sad days.
I see you feed while you sing and coo and gaze into your baby’s eyes.
I see you feed while you are filled with pain and sorrow, as you try to find a smile through the tears.
You feed at first thing in the morning, you feed in the wee hours of the night while the rest of the world is sleeping.
You feed while you are out to eat, and while you are on vacation.
When you are at work or at the store, you leave your baby with a loving caregiver and ensure they have enough to feed your little one.
One thing is very apparent while noticing you and your baby — the insurmountable amount of love that exists between you.
You smile and your baby smiles. You frown and your baby frowns.
Your baby holds your shirt, your hand, twirls your hair, and kicks her feet with joy and contentment.
Your baby loves you and you are smitten over him.
Maybe your bottle was filled with pumped milk, or maybe is filled with formula, but that doesn’t matter to me.
Maybe your baby gets her milk from you while breastfeeding, or maybe she nuzzles in close and as her pump delivers milk directly into her stomach so that she can grow and develop, but either way, it doesn’t matter to me.
I know it matters to you, and it should.
Please don’t take that to mean I don’t care, and that I don’t respect your choices as a mother, because actually, it is quite the opposite.
I care about you as a mother.
I care about your beautiful child.
I support and respect you, because you are a good mom. There are so many ways to be a good mom, and you are one of the best.
You see, I fed my first child with breast milk and formula, and now, six-years-later, she is a gem. We are close, so close that at times, I wonder how I ever lived without her. She had both types of milk and she is absolutely lovely, just like your little one. My second daughter only had breast milk, a decision she made when she refused a bottle. She is incredible, just like your little one. She loves her mama and takes every opportunity to snuggle in close, just like your little one. I know where you have been, because I had the cherished task of feeding my babies, too.
Motherhood is tough, and mommy guilt has worn-out it’s welcome here.
Tonight, when you hold your dear one close and feed them before bed, feel proud that you are apart of a community of women who love fiercely, protect feverishly, and support one another, no matter how they choose to feed their babies!
United We Feed
About the Author:
Caitlin Domanico grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on a small horse farm. Now a mother of two, Ava (6) and Genevieve (nearly 2), Caitlin resides in Montgomery County with her daughters and her husband. She operates a photography studio in the center of her town, where she focuses on capturing families and specifically, documenting motherhood. During the week, Caitlin can be found having dance parties with her daughters, photographing families, or part-time teaching as a special education teacher in birth-3 services. Caitlin’s photo series “United We Feed” had gained international recognition for empowering and uniting women and the many ways they nourish their babies. For more photos head to her photography site!
Photo credits to Caitlin Domanico. This has been an original guest post to World Moms Blog from Pennsylvania, USA.
Exclusive breastfeeding. Before I became a mother, I had never heard of it. I knew about breastfeeding, obviously, but not until I was seven months pregnant with my first child, did I learn it was possible to feed a baby only breastmilk for six months.
Most mothers I knew began complementary feeding with porridge and fruits around three months–which often coincided with their return to work after their 90-day maternity leave. Many mothers in rural areas offered their babies cow’s milk or porridge by two months. Certainly, almost all babies I knew were, by four months, happily indulging in fruits and porridge — regardless of whether they were breastfeeding, taking cow’s milk, or for the privileged few, drinking formula.
Could a child survive without even a drop of water? Impossible, I thought. Insane, actually. And even if it were possible, I imagined that the child would suffer from a nutritional deficiency of some sort. But, there was a mother and child on a television news program who appeared to prove me wrong.
I was confused as I listened to that mother and scrutinized her baby. He seemed to be the epitome of good health. He did not look famished or ‘deficient’ in any way. He was healthy to a fault. According to his mother, he hardly fell ill, not even with a common cold.
This mother encouraged new moms to breastfeed exclusively for six months. She was a career mother and had managed to do so. Interesting, I thought, especially because I knew I would be a working mother myself.
Included in the news segment were a peditrician and a nutritionist, both of whom affirmed that breastmilk only was best for baby for the first six months. They said breastmilk contained all the nutritional components needed for a baby’s growth for the first six months.
These people had to be kidding. Even professionals were in agreement with this woman?
I decided that additional research was necessary. I Googled and Googled and Googled some more. It was unanimous: breast milk is best. I began thinking that I would give it a try.
By the time my son arrived two months later in April 2011, I was sold. I exclusively breast fed him for six months, even after I returned to full-time work when he was three months old. I carried a breast pump to work, and expressed milk over my lunch hour. It was the first time my decade-old company had received a request for space to pump. The storeroom, filled with old newspapers, was the best they could offer me.
Suffice it to say that I also managed to exclusively breastfeed my second son, born in April, 2013.
The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding have been well worth it. My sons don’t fall ill often. We saved a significant amount of money because we didn’t have to buy formula, which I would have done if I had not succeeded in exclusively breastfeeding them both. Today, I use all channels within my disposal to campaign for exlusive breastfeeding because I believe it is the best start a mother can give her child.
Just the other day, I was happy to learn that the exclusive breastfeeding rates in Kenya have gone up from 32% six years ago to 61%. Meaning that I and all the other mothers I have managed to inspire through my blog and other advocacy campaigns are among the counted! Yaaaay! That has been the greatest news I have heard in a long while.
Higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding mean that more children get to survive their infancy, fall ill less often, and get to celebrate their first birthdays.
I believe that giving a child a healthy start to life through a good nutritional foundation is one of the best gifts you can offer your child. My sons appear to agree!
Is exclusive breastfeeding common where you live?
This is a post original to World Moms Blog by Maryanne Waweru Wanyama of Mummy Tales in Kenya. Photo credit to the author.
I want you to meet three women I know.
Mother A is a business woman, well into her thirties, who was bottle fed as a baby. She is a health nut who definitely wants her baby to get breastmilk, but doesn’t want to be tied down by the breast, so she hopes to do be able to do as much pumping as possible and to deliver the milk via bottle much of the time.
Mother B is an older woman who has finally conceived a long-awaited child with the help of a lot of scientific intervention. She has dreamed of being a mother for a long time, and wants to overcome her difficult childhood by showing her child the kind of unconditional love and care that she never received (more…)
When my daughter was 9 months I stopped breastfeeding her. When she turned one year, we moved from formula to cow’s milk and almond milk. Up until today, we haven’t had any problems with her “liking” milk.
About two weeks ago, I noticed that her daily amount of milk that she drinks is only half of what it used to be. (more…)
When the wee lad was born, we had read all about the baby’s development, up until that point. I mean, that I had read everything there was to read about the pregnancy, including what was happening to the baby and what was happening to me. There was so much to focus on, and it didn’t actually cross my mind that I should read the next chapter, i.e. what happens when the baby is actually there.
To be honest, I had also skipped the chapter that was focusing on the birth, as I found it too scary! I was just so caught up in the moment, and there was so much information to deal with that I didn’t have the capacity to read about the next steps. (more…)