I am obsessed with the “Tree of Life Breastfeeding” photos. They are all absolutely beautiful and unique. They are such personal and exquisite images, many moms are having them printed on canvas. (You can order your customized canvas print here.)
Based on my Facebook newsfeed, the Tree of Life pictures are causing more tension in the mommy world. Some feel it is a way to shame mothers who exclusively formula-feed and others are in an uproar about the tree of life being used on bottles, feeling it is a breast exclusive image.
First, the concept has nothing to do with shaming mothers who only formula-feed. It is to help show the beauty in breastfeeding and a representation of the anatomy of the breast and lactation process. The roots of the tree are the glands and milk ducts of the breast, the trunk is the nipple, and the leaves represent the milk flowing into our baby’s mouth. (Please continue reading and look at my images to see my complete view on the use of the tree of life image.)
Second, when the tree of life is placed over a bottle, how do you know formula was in that bottle? It could be the mother’s own pumped milk or donor milk. More importantly, how do you know that the mother did not try everything in her ability to exclusively breastfeed?
Trust me, I know the science, breastmilk is far superior to formula. However, having a fed and nourished baby is the most important part of the feeding process. So many mothers struggle with breastfeeding. For generations breastfeeding was seen as taboo and formula was pushed. Women lost the knowledge and support they need to succeed. Many women that start breastfeeding don’t even know what a Lactation Consultant does, what a proper latch should feel and look like, or how to look for lip and tongue ties (many LCs and pediatricians don’t even know how to properly diagnose ties). If you are new to breastfeeding, please find your support system, “IGT and Low Milk Supply Support Group” and a few other breastfeeding Facebook groups were a godsend for me; I also highly recommend you read “Making More Milk.” Instead of judging another mother for how she feeds her child, take the time to ask her questions and maybe provide her information about what the “Tree of Life” image represents, and if she is receptive, how she can gain the knowledge and support for her next baby.
My breastfeeding journey has been complicated. As I have learned over the past 24 months, breastfeeding doesn’t always look the same for everyone. My son was born with severe lip and tongue ties, which resulted in him becoming failure to thrive and loosing weight from month 1 to month 2. The doctors never diagnosed him and were oblivious even after his first revision. I did my own research, diagnosed him myself, and took him to a dental specialist for revisions.
The first time we tried giving him a bottle of the little milk I could pump, my husband had to physically flair our son’s lips out but he still couldn’t take a bottle. We ended up giving his supplement with an eyedropper. It took a lot of training to get him to ever use a bottle. During our 10 months of supplementation we used the little I could pump, donor breastmilk, and by recommendation of his pediatrician, a homemade goat’s milk formula.
I also worked with him on using a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS). I had to make sure to keep it lower than him or he didn’t have to work for the milk. I wanted to make sure he was nursing from me and use the system to help increase my milk production after it dropped to 4 ounces per day. Part of my challenge was keeping the system hidden until he was latched, then inserting the tube into the corner of his mouth without him knowing, otherwise he pulled off. (You can buy your SNS here.)
My breastfeeding journey hasn’t ended. It was very bumpy at times but the entire process was worth it. At two years old he is still nursing on demand about 3 or 4 times a day (he self-weaned from the bottle at 11 months). The pictures of our journey stir so many emotions in me. The Tree of Life pictures are a perfect way of turning that journey into beautiful art, even if part of that journey involved a bottle and formula.
I have seen so many unique Tree of Life pictures. Each picture means something special to the family involved. I have seen some with pregnant mothers, g-tubes, and even one used with placenta during a delayed cord clamping ceremony.
Let’s take the time to honor how beautiful each of these pictures are and let families create the art they feel comfortable with. You haven’t participated in their journey, so you don’t know what that photo edit means to them.
How to create your own Tree of Life Breastfeeding Photo
(I did not create my Tree of Life images, Facebook friends did it for me, but I have read the instructions posted multiple times. Also, there is a Facebook group called, “Milky Art – Tree of Life,” where you can share your creations and get help editing your images.
- Download the PicsArt app onto your phone.
- Download a free tree with roots image.
- Upload the image you want to edit.
- Click “Add Photo” and add your tree image.
- Click “Blend” then press “Multiply.” (The white background should disappear.)
- Rotate your tree to fit across your breast and your babies head. You can bring the leaves up into your babies head or keep it on their cheek.
- Use the eraser, located on the top left-hand of the screen, to edit and crop tree to make it fit better.
- Click the “Magic” button and choose the effect you want to use. My pictures all have the “Midnight” effect. There are multiple options such as “Rainbow.”
- Save your completed image.
- Enjoy sharing and printing your Tree of Life Breastfeeding Image.
What does your “Tree of Life” image mean to you? Feel free to share any of your creations.