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The July cover of Today’s Parent is tackling one of the biggest challenges new moms face: breastfeeding.
On Wednesday, the magazine unveiled their latest cover which features an intimate moment in which mother Siarre Massey nurses her newborn son, Archer, for the first time.
The image was captured by birth photographer Hannah Spencer from Columbus, Ohio, who helps mothers capture the raw, empowering and beautiful moments of child birth — something she calls “real shit birth imagery.”
“This photograph powerfully tells a story of the beautiful, emotional moment when your baby latches on to the breast for the first time,” Today’s Parent editor-in-chief Kim Shiffman said of the July cover. “To I love the mother’s left hand, protectively cradling her baby, and her gaze, loving and observant as she assesses her baby’s latch. I love the baby’s wrinkly newborn skin and little tushy (how could you not?). I love that this photo celebrates a beautiful Black mother and her baby.”
From difficulty producing milk and latching, not having access to breastfeeding resources based on race and ethnicity, choosing not to breastfeed when “breast is best” and feeling uncomfortable feeding their child in public, the topic of breastfeeding is often a cause of stress, stigma and embarrassment for many new mothers.
According to Health Canada, approximately 90 per cent of new mothers in 2012 initiated breastfeeding compared to less than 25 per cent in 1965. However, more than half of new mothers stop breast feeding by 6 months due to lack of milk supply or troubles with technique.
The issues surrounding breastfeeding are vast, and if left unaddressed, can have serious impacts on the mental and physical wellbeing of new mothers and their children. Studies have linked the pressure to exclusively breastfeed as potential contributors to postpartum stress and depression, while the CDC reports significant disparities between the number of Black mothers who breastfeed (63%) versus white mothers (75%).
Initiatives like Black Breastfeeding Week and the Black Mother’s Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA) help provide resources to Black women and parents that address the high mortality rates of Black infants, cultural barriers impacting Black women, lack of diversity in the lactation field help provide women with much needed lactation support.
The latest issue of Today’s Parent has earned praise for using their “gorgeous” cover to normalize breastfeeding, normalize diverse images of breastfeeding and helping address the issues that surround breastfeeding from all angles.
“Stunning! What a striking, beautiful, intimate cover - perfection,” one follower wrote on Facebook. “I feel like parenting magazine covers are always so generic and posed looking... really appreciate the raw beauty in this motherhood moment being featured on the cover!”
“The most beautiful cover,” another Facebook user wrote. “Representation matters.”