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‘Fed Is Best’ Photoshoot of Tube-Fed Babies Urges Acceptance for All

The babies, who had struggled to thrive, now shine in these powerful photos.
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By Ashley Edwards Walker, Contributing Writer
Published September 30, 2019

Every mom is faced with the choice of breastfeeding or formula-feeding her newborn (though, let’s be honest, some moms don’t really have a choice). But sometimes it feels like we can’t win either way, with women on both sides feeling shamed for the way their feed their baby. To counteract the culture of judgement, one photographer recently held a “fed is best” photoshoot to bring about awareness and help support all moms, no matter how they feed their babies.

Chattanooga, Tennessee-based photographer Anna Poteet issued a call for moms willing to pose for a “fed is best” photoshoot she was planning. She expected moms who fed their babies all different ways to show up, but the three families that ultimately volunteered to be photographed had one thing in common: Their children were all tube-fed.

“Yesterday evening I held a ‘fed is best’ shoot,” Poteet wrote on her Facebook page. “The original idea was to have moms come out and show love and appreciation for other moms no matter how they feed their babies. Only tube-feeding mamas showed up and this was the result!”

In the captions that accompany the photos, Poteet gave the moms a platform to share a little more about their family’s backstory.

“Baby Katherine is six months old!” the photo caption reads. “Since birth, she has had difficulties with swallowing and severe reflux. She struggled with constant vomiting, leading to poor weight gain.” After various treatments and surgery, including the insertion of a gastronomy tube, “She is now thriving with her G-tube and is going to be mobile before we know it. Her swallow reflux is improving and she is loving being able to eat baby food. She is definitely the happiest baby I know!”

“Bellamy is an ordinary two-year-old spunky dude who is about the size of the average one-year-old,” his mom shared. “Bellamy is considered failure to thrive, due to being an overly picky eater. His food choices are limited (to fruit, chicken nuggets, Nutella, and breast milk, plus some various other options), and he doesn’t get enough calories orally.” When he does eat by mouth, he has to contend with allergies and acid reflux—which is why, after trying food therapy and other methods to get him to consume adequate nutrients, doctors gave him a gastrostomy tube to bring nutrition directly to the stomach. “In just three weeks, he has already gained three pounds,” she shared. “He is now thriving instead of surviving.”

“Her name is Hailey, but we call her Bug, and she’s a delightful little five-month-old!” the third mom shared. “She was born full-term, but from the get-go had issues with nursing and even taking a bottle. When weeks led into months of her not eating right (due to improper swallow, and dairy, soy and coconut allergies, and reflux), failing a swallow study, then a severe case of oral thrush and ultimately failing to thrive, she had a nasal tube inserted. Hers is a NJ, meaning she gets fed by pump continuously into her intestine rather than stomach because she has a history of aspirating. …Our journey is just beginning and we have a long way to go, but she’s a fighter!” the caption concluded.”

The photos and stories of the three tube-fed babies went viral, with thousands of people leaving comments to show their support for the families.

“I love this!” one person commented. “As a peds private duty nurse I am blessed to work with two special little guys who are fed this way. These precious children have blessed me so much.”

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“I so enjoyed reading these wonderful stories and seeing these little ones surviving and thriving,” another person shared. “We have a grandson that has had a g-tube practically since birth. He doesn’t get nourishment from it anymore, but does still get any meds and extra fluids when sick. He’s now seven years old and doing quite well. Thank you for this post so others can understand a bit more the struggle parents go through.”

“Thriving beautiful babies and mothers, this is pure love,” a third commenter wrote. “Anything to make sure your baby can grow. You all are amazing.”

Poteet, for her part, seems to be overwhelmed by the reception.

“This has spread so far and wide that I can hardly keep up with all the comments to keep thanking everyone!” Poteet posted on Facebook. “Thank you to everyone who has liked, commented, and shared! It means the world to me to bring some recognition to something so out of sight out of mind got most!”

You can view more of the powerful images captured in Poteet’s “fed is best” shoot here.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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