Feeding a baby is a beautiful thing.
It’s a moment shared between a mother and child where a deep connection is formed. It’s intimate and it’s tender. But when we think of these incredible moments being captured in photos, it’s more often the breastfeeding mothers who are in the spotlight.
But a new photo by U.S. photographer Jessica Byrum is showing that formula feeding can be just as beautiful.
The image, which is being shared widely on social media, features a mother adored with colourful body art. She is reclined in a milky bath with floating red, yellow and purple flowers. In her arms rests her beautiful baby. They are clearly joined in a moment, snuggled together- skin on skin, in a moment where baby is being nourished and loved. In this case, it just happens to be with formula.
The image seems to have struck a chord with many.
Mothers (and non mothers) from around the world are commending Jessica on capturing such a touching moment of what some say, is often something they have felt shamed for. “Thank you so much for this profoundly beautiful photo. Bonding with your child through bottle feeding can be just as raw and intimate as an experience through breastfeeding. A mother’s unconditional love has nothing to do with the extent to which she can or cannot breastfeed. The photo has made such a positive and reflective impact on my day today”.
Another woman noted how she often felt like she was being excluded when celebrities posted touching images of feeding their babies because, almost always, the images featured breastfeeding only.
“Thank you for making this gorgeous image with your kind inclusion of my own reality,” she says.
Other people noted that the image was so powerful to them that it brought tears to their eyes. “I tried everything. I wore myself out and I cried so many tears but in the end, I just couldn’t breastfeed. I think some people don’t appreciate that sometimes we wanted to breastfeed but just couldn’t.”
The lady behind the image, Jessica Byrum, says that initially the feeding of the baby was not part of the session. “We were doing a milk bath session and when the baby got fussy at the end we gave her a bottle and I remember looking at her in that tub, surrounded by the flowers thinking :ya know, formula feeding is beautiful too.”
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Having experienced breastfeeding issues with both of her own children, Jessica says that she too turned to formula to feed her babies. While she never felt shamed for doing so, she understood that many other mothers had.
“I wish I had an image like this with my children,” she says. “I know people feel strongly one way or the other and I never intended for this photo to go viral or to offend anybody. All I wanted to do was show the beautiful bond between a mother and her child, while she nourishes her. I fully believe in living your life how you want, and doing exactly what works for you and your family.”
Did you breastfeed, bottle feed or mix feed your babies?