Breastfeeding is beautiful. But that doesn't necessarily mean it always looks beautiful. I appreciate the gorgeous photos of women breastfeeding, modelled in an attempt to normalise the natural way of feeding our children, but seriously, that's just NOT what breastfeeding looks like. Unless you are particularly blessed, which undoubtedly some of you are. The rest of us however, aren't so lucky. The beauty of breastfeeding does not have to be portrayed by half naked, perfectly posed filtered shots. Its beauty comes from the act itself, not the way we look when performing that act.
There's beauty hidden within the rawness and vulnerability of sitting upright at 3am, with blurry eyes and disheveled hair, looking down at your feeding baby as they curl their tiny cold hands round your finger. Beauty lives in the eye rolling awkwardness of your baby needing to feed at the exact moment you sit down to eat, resulting in you eating one handed and spilling crumbs on your baby's head.
Beauty can be seen in the mum who sits with cabbage leaves stuffed down her bra, googling further tips to relieve tender breasts, with determination on her face to keep going, even though at the minute she has never felt more like giving up.
As wonderful as some of the trending breastfeeding photos are, they don't always portray the reality of breastfeeding, and the various relationships and journey each woman and child takes.
It's important that breastfeeding in its entirety is illustrated, in all its beauty. All of its gloriously awkward and inconvenient beauty.
Women do not sit naked, in a graceful position, with perfect hair and size 6 bodies, breastfeeding. If we do happen to be naked, it's more than likely we've been dragged out of the shower, or were halfway through getting dressed when our baby has cried to be fed. Our bodies are rarely size 6 considering we've just spent the past 9 months being pregnant, and no one with a new baby has perfect hair. Ok?
Instead of donning tattoos like so many of the breastfeeding models that are popular of late, we are more likely to be in possession of stretch marks; and rather than full, pert breasts, chances are they are lopsided, with the free breast leaking and slowly making a damp patch on our Primark bought pyjama top.
So yes, let's share beautiful imagery. Let's celebrate feeding our children in the most natural and wonderful way. Let's support each other as women and mothers and continue to freeze frame these moments in our child's life that will soon become a distant memory.
But let's share reality.
I don't breastfeed to follow a fashion, or because I'm influenced by the latest pin up mum model. I breastfeed to nourish my child, to provide warmth and security, and because it's who I am. And you don't get much more beautiful than that.