They’re all over social media today: Tree of Life breastfeeding photos.

We love seeing parents normalize feeding methods in a beautiful way, one that breaks free from the shame that many have experienced.

But what about the parents who see those photos and feel some pain? Parents who wanted to breastfeed, but couldn’t. Parents who never wanted to breastfeed and were shamed for it. Parents who fed a combination of breastmilk and formula, and somehow neither one ever felt good enough.

This post is for you.

When I’m asked to describe the clients of Heartland Doulas, I often tell people that they make conscious decisions about their health and parenting. Now that doesn’t mean they all make the same choices! It means that they are smart people, people who research the things they want to research, trust their gut, and make decisions that work for their families. When they tell us they plan to breastfeed until their children self-wean, we support them. When they tell us they want to formula feed from the beginning, we support them. When either plan doesn’t go the way they expected, we help them make a new plan, and we lift them up as parents making good conscious choices for their families.

And so when they still feel shamed by the rest of the world, when the stranger in the grocery store makes a snide comment about how they are feeding their babies, when their best friend tells them all about the benefits of feeding a different way, when their family members speak against their feeding choices to the point that they don’t want to go to family gatherings…we feel hurt for them. We empathize.

Today when a member of our Heartland Bottle Feeding Support Facebook group said the Tree of Life breastfeeding photos were making her feel a little bit sad, we felt compelled to share that their way of feeding is beautiful and life-giving, too. Check out the PicsArt App, download the “tree of life” sticker pack, and make your own beautiful tree of life photos, no matter how you feed your baby!

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About Kate Herzel

Kate Herzel is the co-owner of Heartland Doulas alongside Stacy Ash, and together with their combined 20 years of experience and 7 doulas, they help people have really amazing birth and postpartum experiences. In her spare time, Kate enjoys cooking with her kids, brewing beer with her husband, and entertaining for her friends.