World Breastfeeding Week 2018 - What Breastfeeding Has Meant to Me

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2018, I figured I'd share my breastfeeding journey with y'all!

Nursing has been something SO near and dear to my heart, and I'm glad I get to share my story occasionally with friends and clients when it comes up in conversation. I do want to preface by saying I pass zero judgement on anyone who can't, or chooses not to breastfeed. Babies gotta eat, and we have this wonderful thing called formula for those situations. That's not my business :) This is just MY personal journey. Scroll down to see lots of pretty nursing photos my talented friends have taken of me over the last 18 months!

fort leonard wood photographer newborn in hospital

I got pregnant with my oldest when I was 20, and let's just say that I didn't really give two thoughts to ANYTHING during my pregnancy, other than trying to eat semi healthy and take a lot of baths for lower back pain. When the topic of breast or bottle came up, everyone was adamant that it was hard, I would resent it and feel like a dairy cow, I wouldn't be able to go back to work if I was nursing, etc etc etc. I felt a little guilty not even trying, but without any support (or someone telling me I needed to do it, basically) it was easier to just go with the flow. And she was a happy, healthy little chunker! Formula was fine for her, she rarely spit up and was a super chill little thing. 


With my middle, my now husband felt completely opposite. He INSISTED that I would at least try to breastfeed this baby, amidst my protests that I didn't with Nora and I felt weird doing it now. I had it in my head that I would hate it, it would be a pain in the ass, and basically it wasn't fair. Charlie won the battle, and my sweet 9 pound little man loved the boob. I suspect he had a lip tie, but in 2011 I had never even heard of such a thing and just sucked it up for the 2-3 weeks of extremely painful nursing while we figured each other out. After that, things were great and we did a combination of formula and breast once I went back to work. Around 9 months Nathan seemed to be losing interest in breastfeeding (and was beginning to bite!) so we mutually agreed to end that part of our relationship (lol). 

 Photo: Lydia Stuemke

Photo: Lydia Stuemke

Five years later my husband finally convinced me to have one more baby. And over those five years, I met a lot of people from many walks of life and found a homebirth-nursing-crunchy community. A lot of things I had always felt strongly about apparently weren't just me being a weird hippie! Being around mamas who would whip a boob out in an instant no matter where we were was so empowering. Since I was no longer working a hourly job, there wasn't a need to pump or supplement so Maddie had free access to my breast whenever she wanted - which was basically all the time. She's my little mama's girl, very spirited and stubborn and requires a lot of love. I'm proud to say that in 14 days, we will have made it to our goal of 18 months. She also had a small lip tie, and we went through a few weeks of painful latching but since then it's been a great experience for both of us. Of course, my husband loved the fact he never had to get up in the middle of the night to make a bottle- LOL. I've occasionally grumbled at him when she was younger and up all night nursing, while he slept peacefully with his worthless nipples. :P

Photos Above, Dannielle Hale. First two photos were taken almost exactly one year before the second two. (2017/2018)


Photos above: Photo: Arial Barnes, Everlasting Imagery 2017

I made waves last year (pun intended) when I was told to cover up at a local swimming pool. I was honestly so embarrassed and caught off guard instead of standing my ground and reminding them that I'm protected by the law to nurse in public, I just asked for my money back. I haven't heard of anyone else being harassed since, so hopefully they now train their employees that breasts are for babies, and the skimpy bikinis other patrons were wearing showed WAY more than what you might have seen if you stared really hard at my chest, haha.

I'm so thankful and lucky that my babies have been able to nurse without any major issues, because no matter what I try, I've never responded to a pump. Even to this day, if I pump I get a max of 2oz between both breasts. I have MAD RESPECT for exclusively pumping mamas. 


Photos above: Jerrica Russell with Life Unscripted Photography 2017

Do you have a breastfeeding story? I'd love to hear it! 

Baby Iris's Newborn Session

Remember that cute, laid back lifestyle maternity session I posted a few weeks ago? Here's their sweet baby! Isn't Iris just stunning? This must be the season of girls, because I have two more little ladies coming into see me soon!

fort leonard wood newborn photographer

We chose to use a lot of purple tones to compliment her namesake, the flower Iris, along with her gorgeous skin tone and dark hair. 

newborn photographer in waynesville Missouri

I love the combination of authentic barn wood and greenery with the rich purple hues. She was seriously the most perfect little model. I seem to get lucky with all these sweet sleepy babies.

fort leonard wood newborn photography baby on cream fabric

As a photographer, I'm always taking new workshops and classes and love to try out new techniques. This wrap is so cozy for baby, and lets her little feet be exposed for sweet detail shots. Those newborn feet don't stay little for long - unless you are my third child, who has the tiniest feet still at 17 months, haha!

studio posed newborn photographer fort leonard wood mo

We have over 50 different headbands and hats to choose from at the studio, and about that many wraps too. The color combinations are endless and I'm always getting new fabrics and props in. I've never done two newborn photos the same, which is so fun and unique for my clients. 

studio lifestyle newborn on bed waynesville photographer

While I don't specialize in studio lifestyle newborn, I thought it would be fun to add a little variety to our session. Iris got to stretch out in her sleep while we put her in a sweet, vintage green bonnet on the comfortable "snuggle" bed. My business partner Ashely actually has a package with me where you get both posed studio newborn from me and gorgeous studio lifestyle family shots from her - feel free to ask about it! It's dubbed "The Best of Both Worlds" since you're getting a little bit of both instead of having to decide on just one style of session. I'm excited to be blogging our first Best of Both Worlds - Newborn collaboration soon!

Expecting a baby soon and looking for a newborn photographer in the Fort Leonard Wood/Waynesville area? Contact me below and I'll send over my Newborn booking guide. I prefer to book about 4 months out, so I can make sure I have time tentatively blocked off in my calendar for your guess date and newborn session.

Kindness for Kent - Super Hero Mini Sessions

I'm so proud of our community. We had a great time raising money for Kent's tree and bench (see this post if you haven't read the back story). On top of the sessions we held, others who couldn't make it donated to Brea's fund and a local gas station even took up a collection!

Thank you everyone!