Raincliffs Photography – Emily Schwank, Photographer
To celebrate human milk in a big way, we worked with talented photographers in Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri, to tell stories of breastfeeding in all it’s forms.
In Indianapolis, Emily Schwank of Raincliffs Photography, met with four families to capture this special time on film. Here are their stories.
Special thanks to CareSource for sponsoring this project. To see images from the entire campaign, make sure to follow us @themilkbank on your favorite social media channel.
Reaching out for help: ADEOTI’s breastfeeding story
The journey initially was hard because I felt like I wasn’t making enough. Then it became a little bit easier because my milk started coming in and I was able to feed her without the addition of donor milk. Now we’re in a little bit harder phase again because I’m back at work and I have to find a schedule to and remember to pump. Breast Milk is important to me-It’s as natural as you can get in terms of nutrients for my baby.
My hope is to breastfeed her for a whole year. Exclusively for 6 months. There have been so many people helping me with this – My husband, my extended family, and my colleagues who have been through the same journey. Also, I have a pretty awesome lactation consultant.
Having camaraderie and validation that you’re not crazy but when you cry over spilled milk is always great. Also having a lactation consultant who knows the science behind what she does is helpful.
I’ve been so surprised about how adamant I am about baby getting my milk. Even with donor milk, I always tend to mix it with my own milk. But most difficult thing has been the lack of sleep. Baby goes through waves of cluster feeding and those times are the hardest because I really do like sleep. Going back to work was also hard because I prefer direct breastfeeding to pumping.
I have learned that there is no shame in admitting that you’re having difficulty with the journey. Though I am an OBGYN physician I still had challenges and reached out to all those who can help me.
The protection of human milk in uncertain times: Jenna’s breastfeeding story
This is my second child that I have exclusively breastfed. I breastfed our daughter for 22 months before she self-weaned. My journey has been an over all rewarding journey. I have been sure to contact my local resources for help along the journey. WIC has been by biggest organizational/community support. I have been able to ask questions about my son’s weight gain and how to take care of myself nutrition-wise to be able to provide my baby with the best. With both children and any children we choose to have in the future the goal is to exclusively breastfeed until the child begins to naturally wean themselves.
My goal is to be open with my journey and to be able to provide others the knowledge that has been given to me. My biggest supporter with my breastfeeding journey has been my wife, Sidney, and an amazing friend, Ashley. They both encouraged me to keep going. They provide an open acceptance that I feel is very important for me to have especially being a woman of color.
I have found that human milk and the importance and benefits are beyond mind blowing. Being part of a group of individuals who provided human milk to their babies/toddlers during the most scariest and uncertain time in history; that is when the importance really hit me.
When the world was unsure we knew our biggest protection to our littles ones during a pandemic was human milk. What has been the most difficult about our relationship has been worrying about my supply and if my baby is getting enough.
Something to know about me is that I pride myself being an African American Lesbian who has breastfed past the 1 yr mark. Being a woman of color, I want to normalize breastfeeding especially with our sons. The benefits are amazing for both baby and mom. Breastfeeding is a journey that is worth every ounce.
Grateful for the experience: REBEKAH’s breastfeeding story
We’ve primarily breast fed. I chose not to pump because I wanted my supply to be dictated solely by Jorah’s demand and I just didn’t really feel like pumping. My goal has been to enjoy the bonding experience, to accept the ups and downs that coming with letting my body nourish another human and if it continues to feel good for us both overall to nurse until sometime between 2-3 years. After birth and at a couple appointments shortly after birth, midwife and her assistant offered support and assistance while I learned how to adjust Jorah’s latch. Beyond that I’ve sought the counsel of friends who’ve also breast/chest fed and lastly I’ve leaned a lot on my intuition and the desires of my heart.
People have been so inspiring and helpful in sharing their raw truth. Feeling reassured that it is not always easy, that sometimes nature is raw and challenging. That it is normal to struggle sometimes.
Breast feeding feels body and human empowering to me. That I can grow and nurture this life. That I can evolve and shift my focus to slow down and nourish my son and myself even in moments when it is challenging. The ebb and flow of eating patterns, of the ease and discomfort in settling into a role completely new yet something my body felt born to do. And yet, there are times this journey makes you want to crawl out of your skin. That while deep down you know you’ve the desire to nourish and provide for your child you might simultaneously feel over-touched and extremely tired and it’s okay for all of this to co-exist. And furthermore all those feelings can shift in a moment with coming into your breath, body and stillness.
I did not know it would become a form of meditation in my life but it has and I’m incredible grateful for it.
A bonding experience: BAILEY’s breastfeeding experience
My journey has been easier than most. Maggie is an amazing latcher. I don’t really have goals; I am just trying to nurse for as long as I can.
My husband has been an amazing support. He provides everything we need. Nursing is important because it’s a bonding experience unlike any other. The most surprising thing about my nursing journey is how much of a rockstar Maggie is. The most difficult thing is coming to terms with my lack of personal space, she is depended on me constantly.
A note from Emily, the photographer:
Visiting with Bailey and her family was an amazing interesting experience. For me, one of the things I loved about them was their space is that is was such unique space filled with art and the other creatures that live there, primarily reptiles who are an important part of their lives.
Bailey and her husband Damon have their daughter, Maggie and Bailey’s son Frank is from a previous relationship. Their family was also important to me to represent because although Bailey is currently in a relationship with a man, Bailey is also bisexual and that’s part of her identity.