Bristol’s home of in-depth journalism
Powered by 2,000+ members
The Bristol Cable

Be it bottle, breast or both, photographer Esther May Campbells’ arresting portraits shatter the stigma to show the beauty of parents feeding their loved ones in Bristol.

Photos: Esther May Campbell

During the moments of nursing a newborn, parents can experience bliss and trauma and everything in between. It is a sensitive chapter in our lives, becoming something of a saga in itself. Be it bottle, breast or both, I witnessed babies fed in intuitive and inventive ways, each in hugely different circumstances.

Of the dozen babies I met, some latched to nipple, some couldn’t and some did not stop for years. I met a woman for whom breastfeeding was uncomfortable and stressful, so she brought up her children on formula and the whole family thrives. I met mothers who combination-fed out of choice, as well as mothers who couldn’t produce enough milk and so combined breast with formula or milk from a breast-milk bank. I came across radical kith and kin networks, out of photo frame but indispensable—women gifting their milk and time to support one another.

But this intimate nurturing phase can also feel isolating. Women often felt different degrees of shame—they either didn’t feel comfortable bottle feeding in baby groups or breastfeeding in public, or fed for too short a time or too long!

One mother’s DIY inventiveness was realised in a contraption that delivered her milk along with with a bounty of milk belonging to another mother, through a tube taped to her nipple. Fearless, loving, she told me that she wished she had a T-Shirt that said, ‘I’m just doing my fucking best’.

Mothers, fathers and loved ones look deep into the eyes of a baby as it drinks in nourishment – milk, love, a sense of belonging. Each feeder and every babe has their own interrelated story. This is the start of a story that goes on for years, feeding the people we love.

From edition 17, OUT NOW!

front cover of the edition 17Read more from this edition.

Support the journalism Bristol needs.

Thanks to the 2,000+ members who support the Cable, our in-depth journalism is free for everyone. Together, we empower readers with independent and investigative local reporting. Join us and be a part of Bristol’s reader-owned media cooperative.

Join the Cable

Comments

    Report a comment
    Comments are moderated according to our Comment Policy

  • Bernie Prettejohn says:

    Esther these are beautiful photos! I love them and the message they give out. I work as a community midwife and would love to have a display of them in my clinic. They convey everything that I can’t put into words and they show sensitivity about choice in how we feed our babies. Is there any way I can get some original prints.. I looked at your website but that appears to be down at the moment. Thanks. Bernie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Banner Home Page Photography

An ode to Bristol’s boozers before coronavirus

Photography

Photos: Shutting down Broadmead to protest the environmental impact of fast fashion

Edition 15 Photography Banner Home Page

City were on a high, but which way will the Robins fly?

Reports Photography City

“We invite you to join us”: Activists occupy Cheltenham Road library

Photography City Banner Home Page Edition 9

A hard day’s night

Photography Visuals Reports

Photos: occupied and abandoned- buildings in the city

In Bristol

The essential round-up

Sent to your inbox every Friday