'Judge Less: Fed Is Best' Photo Series Strives to Put an End to the Breast vs. Bottle-Feeding Battle (PHOTOS)

Michele Zipp | Nov 9, 2015 Baby
'Judge Less: Fed Is Best' Photo Series Strives to Put an End to the Breast vs. Bottle-Feeding Battle (PHOTOS)

fed is best Midwest Doulas founders Staci Caspers and Justine Temke are birth doulas and lactation counselors in Minnesota. They started the campaign "Judge Less" to help all moms -- formula feeders and breastfeeders -- feel empowered; they want to put an end to the guilt and shaming. They teamed up with photographer Ashley Rick of St. Paul Photo Co. for these powerful and gorgeous images featured in their yearly calendar. Monies raised go to a great cause. Staci and Justine also shared the photos with us -- you will feel inspired.

Justine says that she and Staci were in love with Ashley's work -- she was the perfect person to capture moms feeding their babies the best that they can. The images are raw and real and will take you back to those moments of feeding your own baby. Formula. Breast. Twins. All beautiful, all are full of love.

This year, the women chose to support the nonprofit Babies Needs Boxes with the calendar profits. Babies Need Boxes provides mothers in need with a box filled with necessary items for the first years of a baby's life -- the box also doubles as a crib. For these women, it's all about support, making sure other moms feel love and encouragement, and to end the mommy war on feeding babies once and for all. Fed is always best. We should all judge less.

Take a look at the incredible photos.


Image via St. Paul Photo Co; Midwest Doulas

  • Doing our best.


    "I was shamed for feeding my baby with poison," Justine shared. You must have not tried enough was something she heard from other mothers. She continued, "I have since educated myself, learned how to bypass some of the issues I had with my daughter [while trying to breastfeed], and most importantly, I have decided that my family was not up to judgment and that I and my husband were the sole deciders of what was best for us. It is freeing!"

  • Beauty.


    The campaign is called "Fed Is Best" because it's about feeding your baby to the best of your ability, with support, education, and knowledge. A happy and healthy mom and a happy and healthy baby are best.

  • Twins.


    "We believe in the absolute awesomeness of breast milk, but we are not about to judge anyone for the way they fed their babes. We do not know the struggles, the history, the trauma another mother might have lived through." -- Justine

  • Support.


    "Staci and I felt that we were being unfair and unsupportive to the mother who is being shamed because she is mixing a bottle for her babe. We felt the need to tell that mother to own her choice and feel strong and empowered by it, shush the guilt, stand strong to the nasty looks, and feel fantastic about herself! The point is, we are damned if we do, we are damned if we don't. Would it not be easier if we just stop shaming each other?' -- Justine

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  • Pumping.


    We don't often see images of mothers pumping -- but seeing this mother in this moment makes me really see the beauty in it.

  • Bonding.


    Both Staci and Justine want to empower families and give them the confidence to stand for their choices. No mother deserves passive-aggressive guilt.

  • Happiness.


    Isn't a happy baby and happy mama part of what's so important in life? We must embrace all mothers and accept their choices.

  • Lactating.


    "We have seen shaming of uncovered breastfeeding mothers, we have roared against it, we have stood for that mother and pushed for her to feel free to do what she wants, we have jumped on the #normalizebreastfeeding [cause] because it is important to remind [everyone] of the essential and normality that breastfeeding is." -- Justine

    More from The Stir: 9 Gorgeous Photos of Moms Breastfeeding Beyond 12 Months From 'The Honest Body Project'

  • Bottle-fed and happy.


    "One, if not the only, major source of frustration in our professional lives has been the so called 'mommy war.' We are constantly faced with its negative impact. It seems that everything is up for judgment. No matter the topic, no matter how you choose to do things, at some point, someone will tell you that you are doing it wrong and that you should do this or that. We are done with this." -- Justine 

  • Well fed.


    Photographer Ashley Rick's images capture these beautiful moments so well -- she's a mother and is able to really feature those milestones in life in an honest way.

  • Mom of two.


    At one point, Staci tandem fed her children. What's interesting is that she was shamed for doing that and then also for stopping breastfeeding when her one child was 2. Shaming must stop.

  • The calendar.


    Photographer Ashley Rick of St. Paul Photo Co. partnered with Midwest Doulas to create this beautiful calendar, which is available for $25 on the Midwest Doulas website. Proceeds from the sales are donated to Babies Need Boxes, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that brings the life-saving Finnish baby box tradition to vulnerable mothers in Minnesota.

    More from The Stir: 'Fearless Formula Feeder' Wants Moms to Know It's Okay Not to Breastfeed


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