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5 inspiring Breastfeeding Images that normalise nursing

1 April, 2016

I am always delighted when I stumble across breastfeeding images and attachment parenting in historical photos or art. It seems to affirm a strong belief of mine- that society’s discomfort at public breastfeeding and other intuitive forms of parenting is a modern phenomenon.

Allow these breastfeeding images to be a salve on the wound caused by the public shaming of breastfeeding mothers.

Some of history’s best artists and the world’s most sophisticated fine art deal with the beautiful act of nursing – try fitting the word “tramp” in to some of these situations.

Come and take a stroll through some of my absolute favourite natural parenting paintings by some of my favourite artists…Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

La Maternite
Auguste Renoir

I love the everyday scenario of a mother perched on a wall to respond to her baby’s need. I feel like her eyes have the oxytocin glaze, that relaxed kind of high breastfeeding can sometimes produce.

Artist Stella Mertens says “Renoir – eternal continuity- this flesh remains bound to this flesh; monument to hope and love created by your genius.”

This image challenges those who say breastfeeding should be kept behind closed doors, that it is not to be done in public. Renoir’s breastfeeding image says “Anywhere the baby needs to be fed!”

The Three Ages of Life: Detail
Gustav Klimt

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Oh, Klimt. A hero of mine depicting a passion of mine. Look at the connection between mother and child here! The vulnerability and the trust between them. There is a peace here in this deepest of sleeps; the contentedness of cosleeping.

The challenge here is for those who believe mother and child need to be separated at night. This is not “normal” for much of the world! Sleeping entwined, with ready access to breastfeeding is a beautiful thing for both mother and child, and has been for millennia.

Mother and Child
Jose Orozco

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

One of the first things strangers often remark when they see my large baby on back is “Gosh, you must have a strong back!” As if it is a hardship. I love this picture as it perfectly shows that babywearing is no hardship, no maternal sacrifice. There is pleasure here. A woman able to work, to create, while nurturing a child. The child is intrigued – mother is opening doors to the world and the child is in the perfect place to discover it all.

This mother’s breasts here feel like the tools that they are! The instruments of motherhood, rather than anything to be objectified. This breastfeeding image normalises the presence of breasts in everyday life.

Utamao Breastfeeding - Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Breastfeeding images that normalise nursing

Young Mother Giving Milk to Her Son
1753 – 1806 (Woodcut undated)

This baby is guzzling like a champion and he has that look on his face that nursing babies often get – a sort of pride at nailing this breastfeeding business. I love the delight on the mother’s face and I love that these are expressions that have crossed the faces of millions of nursing mothers and babies over the course of history.

There is something of an older child’s knowing in this rascal’s face, perhaps an agelessness. It isn’t historically, or globally, normal to constantly ask mothers after 3 months of nursing “when are you weaning him?” When the child is done, that is when! My own photos of breastfeeding my two older children are here.

Utamaro, what a legend.

Stanisław Wyspiański
19055 images that normalise breastfeeding

It’s that artist, you know, Stanisław Wyspiański, whose name just rolls off the tongue. Hehe.

The thing I love about “Motherhood” is the expressions on all the faces. There isn’t really much romanticising of breastfeeding here! (Which I would hate to do.) Breastfeeding for me was surprisingly painful. In fact, despite knowing many breastfeeders, having huge support, having been breastfed and having read billions of books about the importance of breastfeeding there was a day early on where I thought “I CANNOT DO THIS” – it was too painful. I was shocked and even a bit hurt, emotionally. It seems a common part of the breastfeeding journey. A deep need to concentrate, to work at it, to push through until you arrive at the place where it really comes naturally. I feel like of all the breastfeeding images I have chosen, this one sums that up! There is a sort of desperate hope in the mother’s expression, and an intrigue from her friends (or La Leche league support team) that could almost make this painting be captioned “That’s it, good latch there mama!”

I would love to hear about your favourite breastfeeding images.


Kapow! Babywearing with the Snugiwrap Mei Tai

17 March, 2014

Steph from Snugiwraps sent me the coolest Mei Tai a little while ago. It has cartoon Whams, Bams, and Kapows all over it. I get comments on it every time I pop Juno in.

It has been interesting getting used to a Mei Tai after my long history with wraps and recently the Ergo. I am absolutely convinced that your back and core muscles adapt to support whatever baby carrier you decide to roll with which is why it is tricky to trial something and then tell everyone your decision. For example, after a year of using a long wrap with Ramona I tried my friend’s Ergo at a festival and found it immensely uncomfortable. However, I found a second hand one for a snip in Germany last summer and began using it with 6 month old Juno and totally fell in love with the ease of it and found it WELL comfty. Bizarre, eh?

The Mei Tai is sort of inbetween a wrap and a buckle Soft Structure Carrier like the Ergo. It has the super flexible and snuggly material of a wrap but doesn’t require quite as much demo watching on Youtube as a wrap! (I spent the first three months of Ramona’s life wrangling with my wrap and her limbs whilst trying to copy winsome hippy mamas on Youtube!)

Snugiwraps Sent me a Classic Mei Tai – although they have a huge range of different options.

Here is what I loved:
I absolutely love that you can hand pick your fabric from literally HUNDREDS of designs. Sometimes baby wearing can seem a little….earthy…. so being able to choose a fabric that really fits with your existing style is a massive bonus.

I also love that it is affordable. One of the most affordable carriers out there, a quick google tells me. They have Epic sales too – you don’t get to choose your fabric in the same way but you can save a lot of money.

I love that they are hand made in the UK, which makes them completely above board in terms of labour standards.

I love the hoods you can buy as an addition. A hood with a Mei Tai is an absolute MUST for being hands free. When they fall asleep you just clip up the poppers and their little heads won’t nod about. They have pixie style hoods that clip on, which are frankly just the most coolest thing.

It folds down really quite small – much smaller than a wrap for chucking in your bag.

It is really well made- with much nicer materials and much better craftpersonship then another, more well known, British producer of Mei Tais and Soft Structure Carriers whom I bought a pre-schooler sling from.

Here are some things I didn’t love:

I thought it was rather large. Juno only just fitted it at ten months old and it is meant to be from 6 months. It would be much better fitting for 12-18 month old baby. The body of it came up over Juno’s face unless I tied it with a double fold at the bottom.

I could only wear Juno it it for a couple of hours each day, where as I use my Ergo and Wraps for upwards of five hours a day. My back just didn’t like the Mei Tai that much- although, as I mentioned above this could be to do more with my back already adjusting to other carriers. Or perhaps I simply didn’t quite master the Mei Tai tying technique.

So, in conclusion, I would recommend Snugiwraps to people new to babywearing who want a beautiful, simple carrier for wearing their slightly older baby. And go for buckles and a hood!

Would love to hear your thoughts on Mei Tai’s vs other carriers.

Babywearing, Breastfeeding

Simple clothes for easy breastfeeding and babywearing

10 September, 2013

I use the word fashion kind of loosely here. More “items that you like that cover your nudey rudies.” You know me, I do like style but I also like being WELL COMFY and SPENDING NOTHING. Which I suspect makes proper fashionistas consider me much in the same way architects consider Bob the Builder.

I have tried lots and lots of different breastfeeding and babywearing combinations. It’s a bit trickier see as you can’t yank tops up and fiddle around with zips while you have a baby strapped on. I was enjoying shirts for a while, you know button right up hipstery ones and then realised that I only ever had the top button done up but was spending way too much of my day thinking about how I should do the other buttons up. So, buttons; on yer bike.

For me it is all about tops where you can pop your boob over the top. Some will call it immodest, I call it normalising breastfeeding! 90% of my life is spent with one mammary out of its hammock, but with a baby squashed in front as above.20130731-210821.jpg(I did aim for a proper shoot but it was quite ridiculous, with Tim juggling Juno and the camera and Ramona leaping into my arms at every opportunity!)

Because our living space is now about 2m x 2m I have stripped down my wardrobe massively. I took TWELVE BIN BAGS of my clothes to the charity shop! Scary or what?! So now I have about 5 strappy vests/ singlets (catering to both UK and kiwi dialects here as I know these two things mean the opposite- when I used to talk about wearing a vest on the hottest NZ days my friends would look at me with goggle eyes as a vest is one of those big heavy sleeveless jackets that farmers wear, pahaha) I have got from charity shops. And about 2 skirts and a pair of shorts and jeans. And two vintage wrap dresses. And… (I kid, really, I am basically a clothing monk these days.)

In “Moranthology” Caitlin Moran (really, read it!) talks about how women tell a story with their outfits. (It is one of her more frivolous chapters.) My story these days is “Mother with two nursing kiddos who needs booby access constantly and who chooses to laze around in the mornings rather than picking out a complex and fantastic display of garments.”

I think I have cracked it with the bright skirt and basic, low key tee combo. With two retro cardis that can wrap all the way around the two of us too.

What combinations have you found to be the easiest for babywearing and breastfeeding? How important is style? Do you have to compromise on fashion a bit when the kiddos are tiny?

PS We are currently in Northern Italy, by Lake Como. We were going to hotfoot it to Croatia but our van is a bit crook and needs to see a Dr, and we’ve had tragic news from home that we are trying to process. It is a bit of an alright spot to figure out our next steps.


Six Tips for Staying Cool while Babywearing

18 July, 2013

Babywearing tends to attract a lot of stromments (comments from strangers, yeah.) Normally lovely ones like “She looks so snug!” and “What a little cutie!” – which is fair enough because, my,  this Juno bear does rock a sling like no other. All her rolls squidge in together so she looks like a stack of fluffy marshmallows with lips and eyes. However, the babywearing stromments have gone through the roof in this heat! One dastardly dude actually exclaimed “What the actual &*!@?!” at me today which I didn’t find especially polite so I bopped him one with my brolly (see below.)  I find I am explaining why I am babywearing to unfamiliars on a daily basis. Getting straight on to how it aids breastfeeding as well as nurturing vital neurological pathways soon sends ’em packing. Ha!

But, let’s be honest, it does get sticky, eh? Here are some ways to stay cool- I’d love to hear your own!

Buy a Brolly
This is the absolute number one tip of the millennium. Never leave the house without it. You have instant shade wherever you go for both you and babe. I did leave the house without mine yesterday as we dashed off to the seaside to introduce Juno to her two marvelous great-granddads. In order to go for a paddle I borrowed my granddad’s umbrella that hadn’t seen the light of day for years and we wandered around this gloriously bright sunny beach dripping cobwebs and spiders amongst the buckets and spades.Stay Cool when Babywearing Tips

Get naked
Juno hasn’t worn clothes for about two weeks now. In fact, she is so synonymous with naked babies that when a friend’s kid saw another nudey newborn she exclaimed “She’s dressed like Juno!” Of course, their skin is incredibly sensitive so I make sure even her feet are tucked into the wrap.

Choose your own clothes carefully
It’s such a pain we have to wear clothes, eh? Although I’d love to be just wearing my denim shorts and a tee shirt I find that having the belt and zip area alongside the belt of my wrap is all a bit aggravating and sweaty. I am choosing loose skirts and vest tops in cotton as it is the most breathable fabric out there.

Just add water
In a bottle, or one of those frozen ice pack things. Someone suggested this on the Lulastic Facebook page last night and it is so genius! It just goes between you and the baby, keeping your core temperature down.  You can also run your wrists under the cold tap, or put your cool bottle of water on your temples, to have an impact on your whole body.

Go down to the woods today
We have spent a lot of this week just sitting in buckets of water in the garden, venturing outside only once the afternoon cools, but one brilliantly chilled place we go is our little local woodland. Woods are the perfect spot for babies, kids and babywearing mamas as not only are they perfectly shaded but the roots and foliage all seem to absorb the suns energy out of the atmosphere. (See how I said “seems” – I have no idea how this works, I just know woods are like another planet in a heatwave. It’s the atmosphere and energy being absorbed and that, okay?)

Think about owning a summer wrap
There are lots of options out there depending on how much money you have. There are soft structure carries with specifically breathable panels. I have a really simple Calin Bleu gauze wrap which, although not as comfortable as my Didymos is so much cooler. Go for light colours too.

Those are the ways I keep me and my little marshmallow from melting, do you have any extras? Would love to hear them.

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Babywearing: Three easy and quick DIY sling tutorials

12 May, 2013

I simply don’t know how mothers who aren’t into babywearing do it. Without a wrap or sling how on earth do you keep your newborn happy whilst continuing to tweet on the loo/  stand in front of the fridge for endless minutes picking your way through leftovers and the chocolates your toddler received in honour of becoming a big sister/ wash off  the paint toddler has plastered all over her face whilst breastfeeding newborn? Babywearing can work for all mamas and babies – I have heard that even babies born with hip dysplaysia can wear their babies. Also, babywearing is PERFECT for disguising the fact that you are in the supermarket in your milk stained pajama top.

Like many parents we have a couple of different slings – ones for different occasions and timeframes in our daughters life. For these early days I find a stretchy wrap invaluable- it is so comfortable for me and snug for the little lady. I also find a ring sling handy too- it is easy to whip them in and out for pottytunities (we do EC with our daughters.) However, I seem to produce Gold Top milk that soon sees our babies piling on the pounds and becoming rather, um, BONNY, so by 3-4 months need to upgrade to something sturdier like my woven Didymos wrap. Most babies will get to at least 6 months with a ring sling or stretchy.

I have made each one of the following slings and recommend them wholeheartedly- they are genuinely first rate, even though they are cheapskate and will meet all your babywearing needs in the thriftiest possible manner.

1- A stretchy woven – 5 minutes to make, £7
DIY stretchy wrap tutorial

Here is how: DIY stretchy wrap tutorial babywearing

You will end up with one loooong bit of fabric (5 metres suits most, I made mine shorter, around 4 m) which can then be tied into all sorts of wraps- I use this pre-tie the most (click here for demo.)

If you use tee shirt material you won’t even need to hem it but if you use something lighter like gauze you will need to hem it to stop it fraying.

2- A ring sling, 30 minutes to make, £10Three DIY  slings babywearing

My friend made this one for me, using some beautiful sari material and some heavy duty curtain hooks. Here is an identical tutorial.

(Do excuse these heavily vintaged-up photos, I am clearly trying to hide away my pokey, tired peepers!)

3- Mei Tai carrier, 2 hours, £15

I used this tutorial from the beaut Grumbles and Grunts but adapted it to turn it into a toddler carry by making it slightly bigger and adding loads of stuffing. In some ways it was a blazing success – soooo comfortable for carting my two and a half year old about. In other ways it was an utter failure; I added so much padding (like, 2 pillows worth of stuffing HA) that it was incredibly bulky and was, strangely, like carrying a toddler and 2 pillows about…Three DIY babywearing tutorials

So maybe stick to the simple version, it should see your tot through to about two years old.

Right, I’m off to go and graze in front of the fridge again.

What stuff do you get up to with a baby velcroed on to your chest? Have you found any brilliant babywearing tutorials?

PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!

Babywearing, Craftiness

Easy Sling for Your Toddler’s Doll

9 January, 2013

It is a bit frightening/funny/awkward when your tot learns to copy everything you do. This morning Ramona has been exclaiming “Holy McNoly!” at everything (it could have been so, so much worse but I am desperately trying to modify my sweary antics!) and for the last few days she has been wandering around with a huge swab of red lipstick on her cheek that looks like a nasty gash. She somehow laid her hands on some old “Stay all day” makeup. It’s a wonder product, really. We are three days in and despite several attempts at washing it is not budging! Remind me not to go around covering my face in lipstick in front of her again, okay?

Ramona has often emulated breastfeeding (she nursed a bulb of garlic, I think it was just comfort feeding though) and now she is all about babywearing. It is handy for me too as it means one less thing that I will inevitably end up carrying home from the park. I have tried a couple of methods and now I want to present to you The Easiest, Quickest Sling you could possibly make for your tot.

It is a traditional Asian carry, a mei tai, meaning no buckles just two bows. I have found a way to eradicate most sewing, so this should be crafted up in a tick…

DIY sling for toddlers doll

I often pick up vintage cotton placemats and embroidered hankies, ribbon and binding whenever I see it at a car boot or charity shop. Just a little rummage in my cupboard found me just what I needed. How delightful is this retro soldier fabric? It is a tea towel-y thing, but way too small to be helpful in the kitchen.

easy quick toddler doll sling

Fabric placemats and small tea towels are ideal as they don’t need hemming, but a square of any fabric will do, just put a hem around the edge so it doesn’t fray. Mine was 27cm x 27cm but round it up to 30 and it will fit both big dolls and big toddlers!

Simply place your fabric in the middle of one of the 70cm ribbons and sew one straight line, attaching the ribbon to the back of the fabric. This will give you two shorter bottom straps. coming out of either side. Then sew one 70 cm ribbon to each top corner, pointing verticallytr. These will look long but they need to cross over your child’s back and tie around the front, so long is good.

Ummm….. Ta Da! For real, that is it! It is a 5 minute number, tops.

To put it on:
This might sound complicated, but once you do it you will see how simple it is! Tie the bottom strap around your kid’s waist, with a bow at the back, the pattern/ front of the fabric facing out. Place doll chest to chest with your toddler and bring the square up over dolls back. Put a strap over each shoulder, cross over the back (to look at tot’s back would show a big X) and bring straps around to the front again (under dolls bottom) and tie a front bow.

Every tot that has seen Ramona’s has wanted a carry – it would make a great pressie. I think it may have usurped the Easy Toddler Wings as my gift of choice!

Have fuuuun!

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