United We Feed: 11 Images That Go Beyond the Breast or Bottle Debate

Judy Dutton | Jun 15, 2015 Baby

caitlin domanico

It's a fact: Babies need to eat. But how moms feed their kids -- by breast, bottle, or otherwise -- is a question often fraught with struggles, stress, and guilt. That's why photographer and mom of two Caitlin Domanico (pictured above) decided to do something about it with a photo project called United We Feed.

"This series was the result of watching friend after friend struggle with their feelings regarding their method of feeding," she says. "When you have a new baby in your arms, feeding them in everything. It consumes your days and nights -- making sure they are getting enough, checking to see if they have burped, you are recording ounces or times of feedings, and what side you nursed with, as well as washing and sanitizing bottles, pump shields, and tubes. If you are tube feeding, you are attending classes at the hospital. It can all be very overwhelming." 

In addition to this stress, many moms also struggle with guilt. "Maybe they felt guilty because they didn't want to or couldn't breastfeed," Caitlin continues. "Maybe a friend or in-law made a degrading comment about her choice to breastfeed, or maybe, due to various medical reasons, tube feeding was their option to help their child thrive and grow."

Caitlin's goal was to show the beauty of every way a mom feeds her child. "My mantra has always been the same, you do what is best for you and your child.  I support you, and you are incredibly nurturing, no matter how the milk is being delivered." 

And the response -- from the moms she's photographed as well as women who've seen these photos -- has helped break down barriers between moms and prove how we all want to nurture our kids.

"Bottle-feeding and nursing moms alike have told me the series has been a source of healing for them," says Caitlin. "I have spoken with women who tube feed their babies due to medical reasons, and they have thanked me for including them, too. I think these photos are powerful because they remind all of us that women are not the enemy. Life is so lovely when we can all feel secure in our decisions and respect one another."

Doesn't #5 capture how so many moms feel?

 

Image via Caitlin Domanico Photography

  • A Labor of Love

    1

    "This photo is from a series of self portraits I made documenting motherhood," says Caitlin. "My first daughter breastfeed for six months before switching to breast milk and formula by bottle. My second daughter refused the bottle, which made working very difficult at times. But I am fortunate that my photography studio is right near my house, so I could run home and feed her!"

  • A Mom's View

    2

    "I often photograph from the mother's point of view, and I love how sweet baby looks in this one," says Caitlin. "When I showed the mom this photo, she gasped and said, 'that is exactly what I see when I look down!'"

  • Bonding By Breast and Bottle

    3

    "This mom nursed her son, but thanks to a routine newborn screening she found out her daughter was not able to thrive off of her breast milk," says Caitlin. "So she bottle feeds her daughter, and always makes sure she snuggles each one close as they eat."

  • Safe In Mom's Arms

    4

    "Most of my photography incorporates the tiny details we experience in day-to-day life," says Caitlyn of this photo of a tiny baby's hand hugging mom during a feeding. "That way, one day, we can look back and remember what was once so prevalent in our role as mother."

    More from The Stir: 10 Beautiful Photos of Moms Breastfeeding Their Toddlers

  • Two Moms and a Baby

    5

    "In this photo, two moms share the responsibility of feeding their daughter," says Caitlyn. At first, mom Sandy admits she felt bad she couldn't breastfeed. "I did feel very guilty, and cried and cried," she says. "I kept asking myself if I didn't try hard enough or long enough. Was I just giving up? I really struggled with it." Luckily her partner was very supportive: "She comforted me and reminded me that I was doing the best I could, and as long as our baby was getting the nutrition she needs it doesn't matter how it happens."

  • Like Mother Like Daughter

    6

    "In this photo the mom's child is modeling the love and affection she has learned from her mommy while bottle feeding," says Caitlin. "There is nothing sweeter."

    More from The Stir: 10 Things Never to Say to a Formula-Feeding Mom

  • Tube Feeding Is Beautiful, Too

    7

    "Though this baby won't always require a tube to eat, right now, the tube is crucial in his growth and development," says Caitlin. "Mommy first offers a bottle so that he can learn to drink from it, and then when he is too tired to continue, he begins to eat with the tube. And it's beautiful!"

    More From The Stir: 8 Breastfeeding Positions to Make Nursing Easier on Mom

  • Breastfeeding At Its Most Raw and Real

    8

    "I really wanted to make an image that shows what happens when a woman is nursing and her milk lets down," says Caitlin. "It's raw and too graphic for some viewers but it's real life, and I'm so in love with it!"

  • Bonding By ... Sippy Cup?

    9

    "My sister Devon nursed and pumped with her son Landon, then switched to formula," says Caitlyn. "By the time I started this project, he was no longer taking a bottle -- he is 20 months old -- but as you can see, they are absolutely bonded and totally in love." 

  • Proud to Breastfeed In Spite of Cancer

    10

    This mom's breastfeeding journey was harder than most. "I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer during my pregnancy," she says. "Given my medical circumstances, I felt blessed to be able to nurse. I would have felt guilty if I was not able to breastfeed."

  • 'Every Baby's Different'

    11

    According to the mom of three in this photo, "I think the most important thing is every mother needs to do what works best for her and her baby, keeping in mind every situation is different. For my first child, I breastfed her until six months, then returned to work. I breastfed my second for three months because my mother passed away." For her third (pictured), "She was colicky and experienced discomfort after breastfeeding. I had planned to nurse her longer but stopped at 5 months and switched to a sensitive formula; her gas pains subsided almost immediately. My girls are my heart and in all aspects of mothering I do my very best for them. Feeding is no exception."

    More from The Stir: Photographer Fights to Prove 'Bottlefeeding Is Beautiful Too' (PHOTOS)

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