“Are you breastfeeding?” That question may seem harmless, but to some moms who would love to breastfeed but couldn’t or wouldn’t, it’s like opening a free-for-all session on being judged.
Of course, we cannot deny the many benefits of breastfeeding and breast milk. "Mother’s milk provides antibodies to fight infection," says Joyce Martinez, R.N., M.S.N., C.L.C., in-house U.S.-certified lactation counselor for Best for Families Inc. There’s the bond that forms between mother and child.
Formula feeding, on the other hand, has never received as much love as breastfeeding. Pediatrician Rosanne Sugay, M.D., of the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, encourages breastfeeding but also adds that “certain medical reasons such as the baby's poor weight gain or infectious causes" could lead to supplementing with or choosing formula.
The thing is, whether you’re a breastfeeding mom, pumping-breast-milk mom or a formula-feeding mom, it should not matter as long as your child is fed and nourished. Judging or shaming moms by the way they feed their young needs to stop—and that’s exactly why these two moms are doing someting about it.
Moms Justine Temke and Staci Caspers are founders of Midwest Doulas, a Minnesota-based doula service, are just happy to see babies being fed. The two are heading the Judge Less movement, a campaign that aims to bring awareness to the shared experiences of mothers and parents—and, more importantly, overcoming the idea of pitting moms against moms.
In line with this, they collaborated with photographer Ashley Rick of St. Paul Photo Co. to make a calendar entitled: Judge Less: Fed is Best. The calendar is filled with empowering photos of moms feeding their babies in whatever way that works best for their families—breastfeeding, pumping breast milk, formula. Temke and Caspers believe that when people, especially moms, let go of judgment, and let in love, beauty is the final result.
See some of the photos featured in the calendar:
Photos by Ashley Rick of St. Paul Photo Co. for Midwest Doulas
Temke, who is also a certified lactation counselor, shares that they support breastfeeding campaigns such aws normalizing breastfeeding in public, where moms can nurse whenever, wherever, with or without covers. She herself exprienced first-hand how different baby-feeding "norms" are in France, her native country, and the U.S.
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"Fed Is Best, not because the alternative is to starve your babe, but because feeding your baby, to the best of your abilities, with the support, knowledge, and education you have, so that you are happy and baby is healthy, is best," Temke said in an interview with Huffington Post. This calendar tells mothers that they can feel strong and empowered by their choice, overcome the guilt, and ultimately feel fantastic about herself.
The calendars proceeds will go to the nonprofit Babies Need Boxes, which brings the life-saving Finnish baby box—a baby benefit box that contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress—less privileged babies.
For more about the Judge Less campaign, visit the Midwest Doulas' website or Facebook page.
Sources: October 30, 2015. “26 Photos That Show The Beautiful Ways Moms Feed Their Babies” (huffingtonpost.com) October 30, 2015. “Powerful Calendar Proves Whether You Breastfeed Or Bottle Feed, "Fed Is Best" (babble.com)