Why I won’t be sharing a Tree of Life picture

Ok so there is no doubt that the viral craze of #treeoflife pictures swimming around Instagram are beautiful. If you haven’t seen them, they show stunning artwork of mothers and babies bonding through a very natural thing, with trees connecting mother and baby through breastfeeding. However, in some people’s eyes, they are another example of how non breastfeeding mum’s are feeling guilt and shame. Hashtags like #breastisbest don’t help the matter! Does that mean that formula feeding mums don’t give their babies life and don’t have a bond with their baby?  Of course not!

From what I can gather, it started to support the #normalisebreastfeeding cause that many breastfeeding groups try hard to advocate. This always surprises me though, as honestly from my standpoint it is a totally normal part of life, to the point where formula feeding mums are made to feel inadequate by health professionals, the media and the breastfeeding army. Let me get one thing straight, when I use the term breastfeeding army, it’s not all breastfeeding mums, it’s the group of keyboard warriors who have their view and will not be tolerant or understanding of others. I respect all mums as, let’s face it, what ever choice we make we get criticised for it but I have an issue with those who purposely set out to make others feel bad. All of the breastfeeding mums I know would hate to think they’d upset or shamed anyone. They agree that however you feed your baby, as long as they are happy, it doesn’t matter. But not all breastfeeding advocates have the same compassion. I think it’s lovely that mums who breastfeed can share something so beautiful and feel empowered by it, but it’s the message it spreads to others that makes me wary of the craze.

Yes breast milk is amazing for babies but not everyone can feed this way. The argument that it’s natural and been around since the dawn of time is valid but historically babies would have died due to feeding issues without a wet nurse or formula. Society and medicine has moved on to allow healthy happy babies whatever the feeding situation!

I have fed Little every which way because she was born too early to feed orally. She was tube fed until she was ready to attempt oral feeding. We attempted breast feeding and fed bottled expressed breast milk and eventually formula. The one she had the most trouble and upset with was breast. So no breastfeeding is not best for every mum and baby. Fed is best and it always will be!

Formula feeding and still we have a connection and bond

What Little thinks to those who shame people for their choice of feeding

Back in the early days when she would take the breast

The oversupply of expressed breast milk I brought home from the hospital. I was a milking machine!

Big feeding a very tiny Little my ebm while we were still in hospital

Little with her NGT (nasal gastric tube) that she loved to pull out!

I have already seen some beautiful bottle feeding tree of life art work. I’m glad these have popped up as they show that no matter how your baby is fed, you still have a bond and give them life. I’d considered doing one from when I could breastfeed, then thought I could do a bottle feeding one, but then realised I actually don’t want to do one at all. Yes they are beautiful pieces of art, but my feeding journey can’t be summed up in a picture like that.

It is lovely to see the pictures, but before posting, consider the hashtags used and the wording of your post. Just because you breast feed or formula feed, doesn’t mean that it is best. We all need to support each other. Always remember #fedisbest

Have you made one of these pictures – either bottle or breast? If so did you consider the impact on others? Should we even have to consider it, or is it simply people being over sensitive? If you don’t breastfeed, how do the pictures make you feel?

I’m interested in open discussions on this but if you comment please be mindful that everyone is entitled to their own views. 

Little Big Love

Becky xx

18 Comments

  1. December 18, 2016 / 10:06 am

    Some babies change so much from birth, but Little looks exactly the same. She’s so cute! I won’t be sharing a tree of life either. I’ve finally found peace with how I feed dexter and tbh all of this stuff just brings up bad memories.

    • December 18, 2016 / 10:08 am

      Thank you lovely – she has always had the big eyes! I’ve been mulling over whether to post something about it but just wanted my say! Having peace with it all is very important as it’s easy to feel guilty, whether it’s media pressure or mum guilt!

  2. December 18, 2016 / 10:16 am

    I completely agree with this! Fed is best, it doesn’t matter how. I tried so hard to breastfeed and I’m really proud of the two weeks I lasted but that was all we could do. I think the idea behind these pictures is a wonderful thing but I also agree that it can bring about even more mum shaming which no one needs!

    • December 18, 2016 / 10:26 am

      Thanks for your comment. I’m so glad you get where I’m coming from. They are beautiful pictures but it’s the impact on others I worry about. Fed will always be best and people need to remember that, whatever we see or hear in the media.x

  3. December 18, 2016 / 10:33 am

    I agree with you! I love seeing the photos and yes of course breastfeeding is amazing if it’s possible. But bottle feeding is just as amazing. And honestly, who cares how a baby is fed so long as it’s fed and healthy?

    Aww Little! Such a character! Even with her feeding tube she looks happy! X

    • December 18, 2016 / 10:38 am

      Thanks for you comment. Totally agree with the ‘who cares’ sentiment. Glad that came across in the post.
      She is such a character and keeps us on our toes. She hated that tube and pulled it out at every opportunity. The nurses used to say she was feisty and they weren’t wrong!x

  4. December 18, 2016 / 11:00 am

    Nail on the head!

    I was enjoying seeing the pics and thought they were absolutely gorgeous. Then a fight broke out on a mummy group I’m in because somebody made one with a bottle feeding baby. THAT is when I take offence. When people say “this is JUST for breastfeeding mums”.

    I agree that it’s often the hashtags that make the difference as well. I’ve seen some doozies.

    Fed IS best 100% and we should all make pretty pictures if we want to. Nothing is “just” for one set of parents.

    • December 18, 2016 / 11:02 am

      It’s for reasons like this that I had to write this post. We aren’t on teams. We don’t have to take sides. No one way is better than the other. Everyone does their own thin because at what they want or have to do. Glad you see where I’m coming from. I just hope others can see it too!

  5. Kara W
    December 18, 2016 / 2:17 pm

    Here’s why I posted mine….. imagine that you and your best friend are going out to eat at your favorite restaurant…. someone at the restaurant is offended by the way your friend eats, so they insist that you must feed your friend her/his food under a sheet. Imagine how frustrating this is for both parties who just want to enjoy a nice meal in their favorite restaurant, now they are both flailing around trying to figure out how to eat with a sheet covering one of them. This is how it feels to breastfeed in public – I posted my pic in hopes that people will learn to be less offended by seeing a mama feeding her baby in a way that is reasonable, not under a sheet.

    • December 18, 2016 / 4:36 pm

      I totally agree that babies should never have to be covered up to feed. I think they are beautiful pictures and everyone has there reasons for posting them. I see breastfeeding as a very normal thing and the BF mum’s I know don’t cover up there babies to feed. I guess I see it as a very normal thing. The thing that can affect formula feeding mums is the breast is best message when it should be fed is best. Whatever anyone’s choice what they are doing is best for them. I’m sure your picture was beautiful and you were very proud of sharing it, but imagine how some mums, who have failed at breastfeeding, feel when they see them – that’s all I wanted people to consider through posting.

  6. December 18, 2016 / 6:55 pm

    I did , but my photo has 2 trees. One from my boob and 1 from the bottle my daughter is feeding from . I am a proud combi feeding mummy and want to celebrate #fedisbest. Please , please , please do one. My daughter was poorly too and she had to be tube fed and if it wasnt for all 3 boob, bottle & tube she wouldn’t be here.
    I had a negative comment on my FB page that i shouldnt have posted a picture as it was to promote #normalisingbreastfeeding . This was my reply – Breastfeeding is normal , it doesnt need normalising. What it needs is more comfy chairs , an offer of a drink and for people to let you get on with it in peace.#Leavemealonemybabyneedsfeeding .
    You are doing an amazing job
    XxX

    • December 19, 2016 / 6:36 am

      I think your response is spot on and I 100% agree with you that breastfeeding doesn’t need normalising as in the vast majority of people’s eyes it’s normal. I don’t think by posting these pictures, as beautiful as they are, it helps normalise breastfeeding. It does make some women who can’t do it feel bad. That doesn’t mean I want people not to post them but that’s why I feel like I don’t want to. I’ve had mostly positive comments but some that emphasise the point I was making – people will sing breast is best to the detriment of others.
      Maybe I should have made one of each parting my journey, but I guess it just struck a chord on me.
      I bet your picture is beautiful. Thank you for your comment – you are doing an amazing job too x

  7. Mamaofsix
    December 19, 2016 / 3:46 am

    Fed is not best mama. Fed is minimum, fed is necessary. Breast is best. And no, I didn’t think how my picture might impacts others because it has nothing to do with anyone else. It’s my picture and my pride at nursing and isn’t to put down others.

    Maybe you shouldn’t be so sensitive and feel slighted just because what others post?

    • December 19, 2016 / 6:27 am

      It’s just that wording that I’m talking about in my picture. You’re attitude that fed is minimum is upsetting to many mums who tried and failed to breastfeed. Fed is best – so as my baby couldn’t latch and I could no longer pump after nearly 5 months of exclusively pumping for her what was I supposed to do – let her starve? Fed will always be best whatever anyone’s situation. Breast milk is an amazing thing for babies, but if a baby can’t get it it doesn’t mean it’s not having what is best for them in their situation. I would try breastfeeding again but if it didn’t work out the second time I wouldn’t put so much pressure on myself as I’ve realised fed is best.
      I’m sure your picture was beautiful – many peoples are and I’m not expecting people not to post them just be mindful of the language you use around them. However you are clearly someone who holds breastfeeding as the holy grail and that is your choice.
      Many breastfeeding mums feel sensitive to feed in public as they feel as though they might be shamed – would you say to them to not be so sensitive?
      Every one is entitled to their opinion and this post represents many people, the messages I’ve had in support of it tell me that.
      As always thank you for your comment but I have to agree to disagree on this one.

  8. January 1, 2017 / 7:57 pm

    I have a daughter who is nearly 8 weeks old. I always said that I would try breastfeeding but wouldn’t put any pressure on myself. Before she was born I had a breast feeding support worker come around to my home to show the ins & outs ect. When my daughter was born I said I would try so a lady helped me to latch her on, later on that morning 2 support worker came round & spent over an hour with us showing us different positions. We went home that day thinking we knew what we were doing. Spending 2 hours at a time feeding her. The next day the midwife came around and watched her latch on but she was struggling to stay on turns out she has a tongue tie, wasn’t major but bad enough to stop her from feeding well. I tried for 4 days to feed her, I was in absolutely agony as she would never stay on & she never got enough from me. She dropped 7% of her weight in 3 days. I dreaded her waking up. We went onto formula with a few expressed bottles but now solely formula & I am 100% sure she is on par with a breastfed baby her age. She had 4 days worth of colostrum.

    • January 1, 2017 / 9:19 pm

      Well done for trying – it must have been a really hard time for you. We all do what’s best for our babies, whatever way we feed them. I’m sure your little one is doing amazingly well. You are an amazing mum for trying so hard.x

      • January 2, 2017 / 2:02 am

        Thank you so much. It was horrendous & has actually made me not want to add to my brood!! I think what I was trying to say is everyone preaches on about ‘breast is best’ but for some people it actually just doesn’t work out X

        • January 2, 2017 / 7:35 am

          It doesn’t always work and what I’m trying to get across with this post is that’s ok. Some people may feel that breast is best and some may not but we should all respect everyone else and fed is best should always be encouraged so no one, whether they formula or bf, should feel like they are doing wrong. I find it difficult when people just spout their own views regardless of the feelings of others – which unfortunately some people have done in other comments! Let’s all support each other. For you and I breast wasn’t best and it won’t be for many others. We have happy healthy babies and that is all that matters.x

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