This was such a special session which happened way back in September when the beautiful Heather was still in bloom, the forest is looking so much different now! Sometimes it can just take me a while to share my favourite sessions and this was one of them. I already knew Cher, having photographed her during her pregnancy and afterwards and it's always a good day when we see eachother so I was already excited to see her and baby Hendrix who was 5 months at the time and who is the squishiest delight of a baby! It was my first time metting Verity, a friend of hers but instantly we connected and I knew we were going to have a fun time together. Her little boy, Axl was 10 months and completely captured my heart with his happy smiley face. This was the first time where I had a session with two friends who also happened to both be breastfeeding, and I really hope it isn't my last! It was all about sisterhood and celebrating where we are at in our motherhood journeys and it just genuinely filled me up with so much joy!

I asked them both to share a little about their breastfeeding journey as I'm a big believer in the importance of sharing our stories because they may prove to be something that someone else needs to hear and what could be more beautiful than that?

Here's Verity's story: "My Breastfeeding journey started 8 years ago when I had my daughter. I was determined to exclusively breastfeed so didn't buy bottles/formula "just incase". I had a lovely birth and she did the breast crawl straight away and we got off to a great start. I breastfed for 8 months and only stopped as was going back to work nights and she wouldn't take a bottle so felt I had no other option. As much as I would have liked to continue I was happy to stop as felt I had done a long enough time compared to most, but when pregnant this time round with my son I knew I wanted to continue for as long as possible.

Again I had a great birth, this time at home and he took to feeding straight away. We have now been exclusively breastfeeding for 10 and a half months and there is no sign of stopping anytime soon! I havn't put a time limit on it rather wait until he self weans or if I feel I want to stop so whether we go on for a few more months or few more years I will be happy whatever. I feel incredibly lucky to have had such an easy journey with both my children, I feel sad for people who have difficulties especially now with so much misinformation and lack of support around for parents! I find it especially sad and frustrating that people seem to be stigmatised for not breastfeeding or having to give up for whatever reason and then on the other side if people do it past a certain amount of time! Its seems you can't do right for doing wrong these days which is sad as it should be the most naturally and (mostly) easy thing no matter how long or short you choose to do it for."

And here's Cher's Story: "My breast feeding journey started when I was 26 years old. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby, I’m African and having grown up with women openly nursing their children it came as a natural urge to me.  However I grew up in England and heard that it wasn’t easy, friends had tried and not succeeded or those that did had there tales of pain. As soon as I gave birth to my daughter, she latched on perfectly not a pain or a worry and I was sent home the following morning with no concern. Still high on oxytocin and Adrenalin my first day at home was a breeze but as I settled into the next, my body ached, I was tired and when she latched on I could cry. Infact I think I did, more than once, that fist clenching, intense sharp pain that forced my eyes closed gratefully eased as soon as the milk followed.

However I still wanted to pursue with it, I lagged on nipple creams, coconut oils, frequently change my breast pads and never forgot to put them on after my nipple stuck to the inside of my bra and reopened that already tender skin. I breathed through the pain. I thought if my body just went through birth surely it’s can go through this. The first week’s the hardest for sure but the second was so welcomed, by then my nipples were starting to get used to their constant use and I could actually enjoy looking at my baby and reap the rewards, being meals on wheels has its perks! 

Breastfeeding for me was so important. I had read about  how amazing our bodies are, how our milk is specifically tailored to suit your babies needs, how it can build antibodies to protect your baby from someone’s sneeze in super quick time. It helps create a strong bond between mother and baby and is so much more than just food. It is literally liquid gold. For me, it was so worth going through the pain to gain all of that. So much so that I didn’t hesitate at the thought of breastfeeding my next two children. I fed my daughter until she was 11months. I breastfed my son till he was 18months and had learned so much more in the 3.5years between them. I grew more confident with how much my body could give and believed that it was enough. 

Towards the end, I developed mastitis, I was exhausted and it triggered what ended up being 4 days bed bound. I never had a date in mind to stop breastfeeding him but felt that might of been the end. It was horrific feeding him through such pain but my Dr insisted I carried on throughout otherwise it would worsen the condition.I came out the other side and naturally my feeds became less frequent until one morning he just didn’t come for his morning feed. It’s now 5 months after birthing my third child and I’m sitting here nursing him as we speak. How long it will last, he’ll decide.