a newborn session featuring tandem feeding and postpartum reality

Lena is a beautiful midwife from Gisborne who travelled all the way over to me with her beautiful 7 week old baby boy for this newborn session.

I hope you love her powerful story, words and images as much as I do.

Cat x

What was pregnancy/birth/motherhood/feeding/the transition to two or more kids like for you?

As a midwife I feel like I had a pretty good idea of how the initial transition to welcoming a new pēpi into our whānau would be but there really is nothing like the lived experience! I have a 7 year age gap between my first two children, so experiencing a 2 year gap between number 2 and 3 was interesting to say the least. The best thing I did was have no expectations and take each day as it came. I continued to breastfeed my toddler throughout pregnancy and found many people told me that I’d need to wean her before I gave birth. This made me more determined to continue breastfeeding, it was something that I felt may help her transition to becoming a big sister and I was quite comfortable continuing. I definitely experienced discomfort with sore nipples and reduced supply but nevertheless we carried on, she only breastfed in the morning and at bedtime so it felt manageable for me. The biggest challenge was probably when we needed to stay in hospital for 6 days after the birth for monitoring, so it was a bit tough on my toddler not being able to have the boob but she did really well. It’s actually been great for avoiding engorgement and I haven’t had any issues so far with blocked ducts or mastitis so I feel like it’s been a great experience! I’ve been tandem feeding for 3 months now, it feels like my toddler will probably wean soon and I feel fine with that. I’m proud of myself for achieving this goal of mine and hope this helps anyone else considering tandem feeding.

What advice do you have for new mothers? 

It sounds cliche but really the best thing you can do is go with the flow, take it day by day and when it’s tough, hour by hour. Try and shower each morning, even if it means baby cries for a couple minutes in their sleep space. Having that precious time to set yourself up for the day really makes all the difference. Be kind to yourself, take it easy. Hopefully you are able to surround yourself with supportive people but if not, there are so many kind people online that can help fill that role, you just need to find a little niche.

What was something you wish someone had told you?

That it’s ok if the only thing you achieve that day is looking after yourself and your baby. Housework is not important! I’m still working on that myself, as I do find myself getting a bit anxious if things are really messy but I’m trying!

Why did you decide to book this session?

I have loved Catherine’s work for a couple of years now and always wanted to book in for a session. Logistics were a little tricky as we live in Gisborne and my pēpi was a newborn through the busy holiday time but I’m so happy we made the trip over to have our session when he was 7 weeks old. My partner was unable to come with us but a common theme is that mums usually miss out on being in photos, so having some with just me would be really special. I know that professional photography seems like a big expense but I knew that when I invested in a session that I would treasure these photos for the rest of my life. I actually looked at it as being a gift to myself, to remember my beautiful children while they were still small. As we all know, time flies so these images really are priceless to me.

How did you feel before your session?

I felt a little nervous, mainly wondering how my kids would behave to be honest. Those fears instantly melted away within a few minutes of meeting Cat, she instantly bonded with my kids - considering they were 10, 2 and 7 weeks I thought that was pretty impressive!

I had decided to get postpartum photos which tommy surprise, I wasn’t that nervous about, perhaps because I’m a midwife and used to seeing postpartum bodies so I know what is realistic and that there is a beautiful spectrum of shapes and sizes. However as a bigger woman, I guess I’m not used to seeing photos that reflect my body shape/size in media, although this is getting better. So I decided that even though I personally probably wouldn’t like the photos, I would get them anyway because all birthing bodies should be celebrated and I figured that when I was a lot older, I’d appreciate them and not be so critical of myself. I’m so glad I did, because it turns out I love the postpartum images! Seeing the photos made me feel so much pride and appreciation for my body. It has given me three beautiful babies. It might not fit the beauty standard but I couldn’t ask for more. Capturing that postpartum vulnerable moment, where everything is still loose and not quite how they normally look, is actually such a beautiful thing. My wish is for everyone who has given birth to be able to look at themselves with love and see how phenomenal they really are. I have so much appreciation to Cat for making me feel comfortable and offering this special opportunity to her clients. If you’re on the fence about getting them taken, just do it - you won’t regret it, I promise!

How do the images make you feel?

When I look at my images, I feel overwhelmed with love for my children and also proud of myself as a mama. My journey started when I gave birth at 19, completely clueless and scared. I’m now 30 and looking at these images just makes me feel like I’ve achieved so much as a mama. It’s so important to stop and realise how far you’ve come, especially when you’re raising children.