Using the Last of the Donor Milk - a Special Milk Bath Session - Treasure Coast Breastfeeding Photographer

When it comes to breastfeeding, I don't think I've met a single person that has "had it easy."

This wonderful gift we give our children is often one of the hardest to give. Due to archaic social stigmas, lack of support (or really, not knowing where to go), and the actual blood/sweat/breastmilk/tears it takes sometimes... BREASTFEEDING CAN BE REALLY HARD.

Allie came to me with a vision to celebrate the stuggles she overcame to breastfeed her son. A breastfeeding milk bath with a twist. Some of the milk would be donated breast milk. LIQUID GOLD.

Her breastfeeding journey started out bumpy to say the least. Low supply issues sent her trying every pill, oil, old wives tale... everything. Nothing seemed to work. Using a Supplemental Nursing System and donated breastmilk, she was able to provide her son nourishment. Until one bittersweet day, after so long trying so many other ways to nourish her baby with breastmilk, he latched and it finally worked.

The last few pouches of donated breastmilk sat in the back of her freezer and expired.

She didn't need them any more.

 

Using the Last of the Donor Milk - a Special Milk Bath Session - Ebb and Flow Photography

She poured the last of the precious gift carefully into the bath as I adorned the surface with flowers. A tribute to her breastfeeding journey.

Using the Last of the Donor Milk - a Special Milk Bath Session - Ebb and Flow Photography
Using the Last of the Donor Milk - a Special Milk Bath Session - Ebb and Flow Photography
Using the Last of the Donor Milk - a Special Milk Bath Session - Ebb and Flow Photography
Using the Last of the Donor Milk - a Special Milk Bath Session - Ebb and Flow Photography

Another special treat and added layer of awesomeness: mother salts. Salts handed down from mothers and blended at a mother blessing. A gift from her midwife's mother blessing, shared from sister to sister. Mother to mother.

Using the Last of the Donor Milk - a Special Milk Bath Session - Ebb and Flow Photography
 

World Breastfeeding Week 2018 Mini Sessions

Each year, breastfeeding is celebrated world wide during the first week of August: World Breastfeeding Week. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action partners with breastfeeding, health, and nutritional organizations to host events and bring awareness to the benefits of breastfeeding - poverty reduction, better nutrition for babies and children, and food security.

During WBF is the Big Latch On, a world wide event bringing breastfeeding parents together for community and support.  I have participated in every BLO since having children, except one when I was pregnant. My first BLO I didn't get to join a group, but I did nurse my easily distractible son in the back seat of our car in the dark basement parking garage of a Whole Foods. My husband took a photo right at the moment to be counted as virtual participant. We had latching issues for months and I wish I had broken through my social anxiety at the time to find a La Leche League meeting or other form of support. My second BLO, I nursed my daughter in a carrier while photographing the event. So so different than two years prior!

world breastfeeding week - breastfeeding portraits - ebb and flow photography

This year may be my last year nursing during WBF and being counted at a BLO - my daughter is 2.5 and is partially weaned. It's more than likely she's my last child. So I want to do something really special and offer mini breastfeeding sessions for parents wishing to commemorate their own breastfeeding relationships. The more breastfeeding moms I meet, the more important I realize support is. And any breastfeeding relationship - short term, extended, re-latched, bottle fed with donor milk, tandem, SNS, any number of struggles or joys we face when nourishing our children - they are ALL worth celebrating.

There are a limited amount of slots, so grab your nursling and save your spot!

A Cozy Motherblessing Cermony on a Chilly Day - Treasure Coast Maternity Photographer

Brie was pregnant for the first time and wanted to add a Mother Blessing to the list of things she could not miss out on for her first pregnancy.  I was happy to take this project on after attending my first mother blessing the year before.

I began by consulting with a few local doulas that had experience with mother blessings to see what to include and how the ceremony should flow. I hope that Brie knows how truly lucky she is to be honored so thoughtfully by a group of likeminded mothers. What a beautiful thing to be a part of and be connected through.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

I had a gooooooooorgous location picked out for her ceremony. A HUGE tree by the water that would provide shade and a beautiful backdrop. It was at a public park that often has birthday parties and events but I had never noticed the table by that tree before. I just knew it would be an amazing spot, secluded from the rest of the park, for her special day.

And as I pulled up early to set up... someone was camped out there. Quite literally. They were drying clothes on a line attached to their RV and taking up three parking spots. UGH. Please oh please there HAD to be another good spot.  I hunted around and thankfully there was, but not by the water or that amazing tree. However it was quiet enough and far enough away from other groups there that day that we could continue the celebration undisturbed.

Then I got out of my car.

And it was COLD out.  Sure, it was January. But it's Florida. And people that live in Florida put sweaters on when it's 70 degrees out. I think it was in the upper 50's. And breezy. So it wasn't horrible. But it wasn't really the let-the-babies-run-barefoot-in-the-grass weather I had been hoping for. 

That's ok. I brought tons of blankets. And the mother blessing will go on.

I spread the blankets out, overlapping one another, to create a seating area for us to gather on.

In the center I placed a tray filled with gifts of nature and gifts for the mother blessing. I had connected deeply with the ocean during my last birth so I brought shells I had collected during my pregnancy. The fabric I placed them on was a Wrapsody Furoshiki cloth in the Morgaine colorway: a breastfeeding mermaid as a blessing toward a happy breastfeeding relationship with her future child. Each item I brought or made for this was chosen mindfully.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

When people started arriving, we all put on headbands I had made. Brie got one with flowers that I had made. I filled it with baby's breath, another well wishing. And sealed it with a charm with the word BLESSED on it. The rest of us had smaller ones so we could all still be adorned, but Brie got the most magnificent one.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer
Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

It did appear to have the wild beauty of a Pacific Islander leaf crown. This hula dance is all her.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

Once our small group was all there, we began with what I found the most touching part of the ceremony I had experienced before. We all went around in a circle and introduced ourselves as mother and/ or daughters of other mothers. So I would say, "I am Cory, mother to Taylor and Emmy, daughter to Rita, daughter to Laura, daughter to Genevieve." The mother being blessed gets to include baby-to-be in her introduction, finding connection with baby as well as others. Daughters in attendance, if they are old enough to participate in this introduction, are welcome to find their connection. I love this part, finding connection with the history of women birthing before us... it gives me goosebumps.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

Following the introductions, we sang a rythmic song that I was introduced to at the last ceremony I attended. Something to set the mood and remind us that we are natural beings, connected with the Earth on many levels. The girls played musical instruments as the women sang.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

Next, was our first gift to the mother. Flowers for her crown. Each one of us brought a flower. Whether we bought one at the store, picked one from our garden, or found one along the way. It was a gift to adorn her. Having the baby's breath on there first was like having a nest for the flowers to rest in. Gorgeous flowers to adorn a new mother, they are the quintessential analogy for birth. Blossoming, opening, unfurling... a beautiful treasure to behold when it opens all the way. And another wonderful thing is that she got to wear this crown to her maternity session the next evening.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

Another gift bestowed upon the mother was a necklace for her to wear during pregnancy and beyond. Each guest brought a bead that held a message or some form of sentiment, mother-to-mother or friend-to-friend. After we had each gone around in a circle and told our story of our bead selection, we threaded it onto the necklace and adorned her again with the final piece.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer
Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer
Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

Now, a Mother Blessing is NOT a baby shower. This is an opportunity to celebrate the Mother, and shower HER with care, love, wisdom, sisterhood... Foot massage, shoulder rub, manicure, pedicure, a potluck with her favorite foods, sharing positive birth stories to help her prepare, or any number of ways a mother to be could be lifted up during the final weeks of her pregnancy. Gifts, as I understand, are usually those that form connections between mother and the circle she has present at the mother blessing. Like the flowers or beads. I recently encountered Mother Salts. In which each mother brings her own salt or herbs to add to a mix. Each person adds to the mix and then receives a small batch of her own in addition to the Mother's share. Or candles. Guests can all bring a candle for the mother, which are lit during labor. OR the host distributes candles to all guests so that when the Mother goes into labor, they all light their candles. The candles stay lit until baby is born, a way to show unity and support during labor.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

Belly painting is another popular activity. I have seen beautiful colorful paintings created on a burgeoning belly. But my personal favorite is henna. Fortunately, I know a seriously talented artist that happens to be good with a tube of henna. Alexa of The Oxytocin Emporium, skillfully drew a mandala on Brie's belly as we colored and made birth affirmation banners.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer
Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer
Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer
Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

By the time Brie's painting was done, everyone was chilly. So we wrapped up with the final parting ceremony: the binding ceremony. In this ceremony, a single, continuous thread is wrapped around the wrists of all that attend, starting and ending with the mother.

We sing as we become connected, "We are the flow, we are the ebb. We are the weavers, we are the web."

When the cord has completed it's circle and joined everyone together we acknowledge our connection. The cord is cut, making bracelets for everyone. The bracelets are to be worn until baby is born, another form of support and union among a circle of friends and mothers.

 

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

Alexa, again, was the mastermind behind how stunning this binding ceremony was. She strung and tied beads along a long length of cord, then wrapped them onto a wonderful little knob of wood she had found.

We helped each other tie the bracelets, our last binding experience before we parted ways.

Motherblessing cermony - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

I am so grateful to Brie, for allowing me this opportunity to grow and learn.

I am grateful to Alexa for bringing banners to color, a beautiful binding ceremony, and fantastic henna work.

I am grateful to Jenny for taking photos when my hands were busy.

I am grateful to Jen for bringing an assortment of musical instruments.

And I am grateful that my mother in law was visiting us at the time. She received the blessing of the herbal foot soak later that day that I wasn't able to do during the mother blessing.

#eafmaternity


New Here! - On Call Session for the first hours after birth - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

I love documenting Birth Stories. Heck, I wouldn't do it if I didn't. And since becoming a business owner I've taken to the philosophy that if I don't have a HELL YAH feeling about something I don't pursue it. If I don't feel over the moon about my offerings or the work I'm providing for my clients then I'm not giving it my all and speaking with my heart. I'm not that kinda gal. No, ma'am. What I'm sharing with you here definitely fits into the hell yah category. And it gives me goosebumps to share with you. It's something new but so, so awesome.

So.  Even though birth photography is picking up more these days and has become much more prevalent on social media, not everyone is on board for having their own births photographed. I get it. Just because it's a thing doesn't mean it's your thing.

New Here - On Call Newborn Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

Maybe you're more of a private person. Maybe you're more interested in the final product (um, a squishy and beautiful bundle of joy?!) than the process of birth itself. Maybe all the details of labor and delivery fade in comparison to the details of your baby, freshly born. All of those firsts in the first few hours can pass in a whirlwind. Foot prints, weighing, first time nursing, first skin to skin with another parent, first time meeting siblings. First diaper. First outfit. The list goes on.

And babies change so much in the first few days. They will never look BRAND new again. Not like they do in the first few hours.

This is why I am now offering a session I am calling New Here.

New Here - On Call Newborn Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

So, what does a New Here session entail?

I will be on-call for you on the month surrounding your due date. Once baby is born I'll come within the first 1-5 hours to document your freshly born baby and all of those firsts. Your new or growing family taking in the wonder of this really real tiny thing that just entered the world. I'll be there for a few hours so everyone can take their time and there's no need to rush.

New Here - On Call Newborn Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer
New Here - On Call Newborn Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer
New Here - On Call Newborn Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

So if you are considering having your next birth documented and are still on the fence this could be the option for you. You can check out my 10 reasons to hire a birth photographer if that helps, too.  A New Here session costs less than full Birth Story documentation since I'm not there for the hours leading up to the moment of birth. But it does cost more than the newborn sessions I offer simply because of the narrow window of timing. To be there for those first moments with you I'll be on-call and ready to go at a moment's notice any time of the day or night. Just to capture all of those sweet firsts for you and your growing family.

New Here - On Call Newborn Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer
New Here - On Call Newborn Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast Birth Photographer

Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Fort Pierce Maternity Photographer

I was pretty excited for this session. Well I actually think I feel that way before all my sessions. ;)

Driving to the beach to play in the sand... is work?

Anyway, mom-to-be loves nature and trees and forests and dad is a surfer. Thankfully I knew just the location perfect for this beyond adorable couple before they become a new family.

Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer

These two, you can even tell even from afar, are truly and deeply and so very madly in love. It's the kind of passion you only witness a few rare glimpses of in a lifetime.

Fair warning. There's a lot of smooching <3
 

Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer
Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer
Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer
Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer

At this time I was the Photographer on Retainer for Wrapsody Baby wraps. I was always looking for creative ways to photograph wraps (and still am!). This Zoe wrap I felt was so fitting for this family. The ocean version of the tree of life - a coral - set upon a sea her favorite color.

Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer
Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer

Isn't she stunning?

Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer
Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer

Calm; being one with the waves.

Romantic Beach Maternity Session - Ebb and Flow Photography - Treasure Coast maternity photographer