In my year and a half here at Romper, I have had the opportunity to write hundreds of articles about topics that are important to me — feminism, motherhood, and breastfeeding, to name a few. Now, each of those hundreds of articles has required a corresponding image, which brings me to various stock image photo sites. If you have never had the pleasure of taking a look at such a site, please do: it's downright hilarious. Images can be completely nonsensical, ridiculous, or unrealistic. Breastfeeding is especially hysterical: I wish breastfeeding was like the f*cking stock photos.
Stock photo sites: I get it. You have a lot of territory to cover (from aardvarks to zithers and everything in between) and there is only so much variety you are able to muster on a single topic sometimes. However, you have to know you're not capturing the whole breastfeeding story here, right? In fact, you're barely scratching the surface except to generally let people know that "breastfeeding" has something to do with a baby connected in some way to a person's nipple for reasons. Breastfeeding mothers (and it's always mothers in stock photos, even though that's not always the case in real life) are almost always happy and serene, holding their child in a cradle hold. They always look tidy, put together, and well-rested. Yes, they're usually white.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but it takes me 1,398 words to break down why I want to be the women in these pictures because they are living in some alternate, beautiful reality...
You know how it is: you give birth to a baby and then you sit nestled in your pristine white bed with your robe and nightgown (what could possibly happen to spoil this alabaster heaven?!), freshly blown-out hair, and professional makeup. You gaze down with a blissful, serene smile on your well-rested face as your obviously newly born infant latches perfectly. Nothing hurts. I mean,why would it? It's not like there's anything to have to learn. Breastfeeding is so easy. After all, it's completely natural: both you and your baby know exactly what you're doing and everything is beautiful and tranquil.
See? This is what I'm talking about, you guys. That bed would look like a murder scene within minutes, she would more realistically look like an extra from The Walking Dead (zombie or human survivor: either works) and the chances that she has this whole breastfeeding thing down so beautifully so soon is, you know, a reach. It's not impossible, but a solid reach. So I would love to have looked like this at any point, much less with such a tiny baby.
Do you know what it's like to nurse a new baby with an older sibling around? Yeah, neither do I. Not because I didn't do it, but because I can't remember doing much of anything I was doing in those days.
You see, each child required 100 percent of my attention, which meant I had to enter some sort of super-sayen fugue state to get through it. So, from my experience, if the older sibling is around, there is no way in hell they are just going to chill quietly in the background while you nurse their younger brother or sister. Like, that kid in the background is cuddled respectfully up to their mother like, "I've got your back, mama. I'm going to help you reach your breastfeeding goals by behaving and being respectful of your nursing time."
IRL that could would be tugging on that tasteful-looking shawl-scarf thing she's wearing like "Mommy! Mommy! Mooooooooooooooooooom! I need a snack. Mom! I'm starving. Mom can you get me a snack now? Mommy, I don't want the apple I took one bite out of ten minutes ago: I want a new apple! Moooooooooooooooom! You're not listening!"
It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Superbaby!
... and her trusty sidekick, Superboobs!
Seriously, is this dynamic duo breastfeeding while flying? And I don't mean on a plane, I mean, like, actually flying. Why else are they just chilling up in the clouds like that? That would be pretty cool. I've always wanted to have the power of flight: breastfeeding while doing it seems a small price to pay. I mean, sometimes nursing feels like a superpower in and of itself, so I guess flying and breastfeeding would be a kind of double super power. Or maybe I'm getting this all wrong. Maybe both mother and child are just really super-duper tall. Like they can grow to 100 times their size and now they're just up in the atmosphere now. Either way, I'll take it.
Downward Facing Dugs
You know those pictures, where the mom is breastfeeding in her yoga pants? Clearly she has just finished a workout, yet somehow has the energy to sit all serene-like and smile while her perfectly content child breastfeeds without a fuss. Based on those pictures (yeah, you know them), here's everything those mothers appear to have had time for lately:
- Clean their entire living room, erasing any sign that a child lives there
- Water all their plants of which there are, I'm going to say it, weirdly a lot
- Get a pedicure
- Do their makeup
- Successfully build and maintain a breastfeeding relationship (that baby appears to be at least a few months old)
- Fit in a casual yoga session
At the very least, these women have extensive help around the house to enable them to achieve the aforementioned. Whether it's time or assistance: yes please.
Actually, Opposite Problem Here
Among the hundreds and hundreds of stock images I found from a number of sources, only a handful depicted women of color (and, surprise surprise, you have to pay a lot of money for them). Black women in particular were rarely represented, despite the fact that breastfeeding rates among mothers in the United States has increased sharply in less than a decade—from 47 percent to 66 percent.
Still, Black moms nurse at lower rates than both White and Hispanic moms and while the reasons behind that are myriad and often difficult to pick apart (much less overcome), representation plays a role. Representation matters, so please, stock photo companies of the world, work on this. In the mean time, here are some fabulous Black moms nursing their children! Enjoy!
I know not everyone has as awful a relationship with their pump as I did, but, for me, pumping was a very involved process. Hands free bras didn't work, so I couldn't text or do any work or anything while I was getting milked. I couldn't even successfully use my pump on both breasts at once and expect to get anything: I had to do one at a time. And even then, you guys? Practically nothing. It was the lactation equivalent of getting paid below minimum wage. Like, "I pumped for 20 minutes on each side and got a grand total of four ounces? Are you kidding me?" So I see stock images like this and look on in bitter envy.
Nursing Roman Style
In the world of breastfeeding stock images, this image (and images like it) frequently come up. For those of you not up to snuff on your Roman history, this is Romulus (who would go on to found the city of Rome) and Remus (his twin brother) being suckled by the she-wolf, Lupercal. Mythology is weird, dudes. Still, I wouldn't mind being a she-wolf named Lupercal. Seems kind of badass, actually. Besides, I'm all about nursing other people's kids, should the need ever arise. Lupercal seems like she'd be a good patron saint of that sort of thing.
My children absolutely would have kicked that computer off my lap. Probably on purpose, no matter how young they were. They did not want me to do anything while nursing except nurse them. (And, certainly, I learned how to do lots of things while breastfeeding, but they always let their displeasure be known).
You just know this image would have a caption like "Communing with nature while doing the most natural thing in the world #breastfeeding #nature #sunset #onewithnature #naturebaby #blessed #nofilter" (And there's absolutely a filter: you're fooling no one, Ashley!)
Seriously, I want there always to be perfect lighting so I look like I belong in a lifestyle magazine when I nurse.
I mean, for goodness sake: look at this happy-looking, majestic mommy nursing her cubs. This animal is my Patronus. I shall name her Clotilde and she shall guide me through all of life's ups and downs with gentle ferocity and effortless grace. She will also catch salmon for me in a river with her teeth, because she's cool like that. I want to be Clotilde the Nursing Bear.