Photographer Felicia Saunders set out to photograph moms and babies for National Breastfeeding Month in August. But she had no idea the moving photos would touch parents everywhere.
Saunders, of Henderson, Nevada, put out a call for her annual bonding and nurturing session, and at the end of July photographed three moms who feed their babies in different ways. One mother breastfed, another used a bottle, and one baby was tube-fed.
She shared the photos on social media with a simple message: “I want to say that no matter your choice of feeding you are absolutely amazing! I want to document your story of the loving bond you form feeding your baby, no matter your feeding style!”
In the photos, the mothers — Courtney Espejo, Mykel Cooper, and Tiffiny Grace — are wrapped in loose-fitting garments, with their babies wrapped in the fabric too. The photos have been shared more than 5,000 times on Facebook.
“I went to bed and the next morning, my inbox was flooded with messages of gratitude,” Saunders, 31, tells PEOPLE. “I’m really honored that I’ve been able to bring people peace and closure and [help them] be seen.”
Saunders says she’s heard from first-time moms who had difficulty feeding their little ones — a struggle she’s known all too well. Saunders tells PEOPLE she had breastfeeding issues with her baby and experienced criticism from friends when she decided to use formula rather than breastfeed.
“When I bottle-fed, my son started gaining weight. I was able to feel more fulfilled as a mother,” Saunders tells PEOPLE. “I want other women to know that it’s okay if we feed out babies different as long as we’re nourishing them with love. It’s what’s best for you and your baby.”
Saunders, who owns Felicia Saunders Photography, says she’s known the mothers in the portraits for years, and even did many of their newborn photo shoots. With that, she says the photo session was also quality girl time.
The mothers were proud to be part of sharing the important message, and Saunders says the group “captured magic.”
“I want parents everywhere to know that as long as we’re doing what’s best for us and our children, then that’s good enough,” Saunders says. “If we just do the things that we do for our children out of love, then that’s what matters.”
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