Meet the Creator of “Tree of Life” Breastfeeding Photos, Read Praise by PicsArt App, Enter BFMT Photo Contest

Last week breastfeeding broke the internet and put a dent in servers worldwide when a mom and photographer decided to create and share an edited photo of a her breastfeeding selfie, also known as a #brelfie, displaying a tree and roots connecting herself and her baby. Tree of life images have been popping in everyone’s newsfeeds ever since. I reached out to Cassandra in California to find out more about it, follow her here on Instagram. I also contacted the #PicsArt app company, which Cassandra used to edit the images on her mobile phone. Read her story below about how the #treeoflife came to be and how she offered her time to edit over 800 images for other mamas who loved her idea. Then read about how PicsArt fully supports the normalizing breastfeeding movement. Finally, head over to Breastfeeding Mama Talk for the chance to enter their photo contest co-hosted by PicsArt.

*Featured on this blog post are also a bunch of willing mamas who wanted to share their photos from our Facebook community.

From Cassandra @keeponboobin: “I currently am nursing my 13 month old daughter and I plan on allowing her to naturally wean. After celebrating my 12 month anniversary of nursing my daughter, I wanted to commemorate with a nursing photo that I could hang on the wall. I had recently learned about how breast milk was considered a living organism and that having fascinated me, I chose to try and incorporate that into our photo. We had a rough beginning when we started nursing so this was something that was truly special to me. I came up with the idea to use Photoshop and create a flower, with the vines going from my breast to her brain. A metaphor for her having “blossomed” into this beautiful child. While nursing her one day, I took a photo of her on my cell phone and decided to play around with it, kinda work out the idea I had come up. I looked into photo editing apps that were similar to Photoshop so I could draft my idea and found the Picsart app. I was able to add a flower to the photo, but didn’t really like the way it looked. That is when I decided to try a tree instead. It gave it a kind of artsy look through the app’s many filters they offer and I just fell in love with it. I had originally intended to take a professional photo with my camera and do this all on the computer, but I really loved what I had created.

I’d never shared a photo of my nursing my daughter before, but I really wanted to share this beautiful photo with someone who I knew would appreciate it. I decided to share it in a breastfeeding support group that I have been a part of since my daughter was born. This amazing group of women have helped me through many tears and trials with my nursing relationship so I knew they would truly understand how special this photo was to me.

A few people had mentioned seeing a similar photo concept before so I definitely don’t want to take all the credit for the ideology of the photo if others have done it before me. However, knowing I started this amazing movement was incredible.

When I shared the photo, I asked if anyone else wanted me to make one for them as well. Next thing I know, there were hundreds of comments and my Facebook inbox was full. Friends of these women were messaging me as well saying they saw the edit I had done for “so and so” and wanted to know if I could do one for them too. I stayed up all night and edited one for every single person who wanted one and still am. After editing all those photos, I had to sleep (it was nearly 5am!). I woke up to these photos everywhere! I saw them in all the mommy groups, they were being shared by blogs, and my Facebook messages were just flooded with people messaging me thanking me and forwarding blog articles. Apparently all of these amazing women shared their photos on social media and it became a trending topic!

I think it is absolutely amazing that all these women from different parts of the world had come together and found the courage to share their photos. I am still getting messages every hour and am continually editing more and more. When someone asks me to make one, I am honored. I have now edited close to 800.

I don’t want to just normalize breastfeeding, I want to naturalize it. I feel like the word normalize means that it wasn’t normal to begin with. I feel that if we can naturalize it, women will feel more comfortable to nurse in public without judgement and get support when needed. I recently read a statistic online that by 6 months of age, only 18% of babies are still breastfed. I can’t help but wonder if breastfeeding had been more naturalized in society, these women would have nursed longer (assuming they did not stop for medical reasons of course). Naturalizing breastfeeding is crucial. Breastfeeding is natural and beneficial and absolutely beautiful. No one should ever be embarrassed by it.

Never would I have thought that this would go viral! I just figured like myself, that these moms would have a beautiful photo to either keep to themselves or print for their home. I have received so many messages from women thanking me for giving them the courage to share their photos. I have even received messages from women saying they nursed in public today for the first time ever without feeling like they were being judged. That is incredible! So did I expect it to go viral? Nope. am I glad it did? Absolutely! Because this week, breastfeeding had a little less of a stigma. And if we as society can just embrace breastfeeding for what it is, a natural way to feed our children, and stop bullying moms for how they have decided to feed their children, the world would be a much better place.”

……..

 

From Megan Harmon, Director of Content @PicsArt: “Art has always been used as a medium to help advance causes. And we’re excited PicsArt is here to help these mamas advance theirs. We 100% support this movement and the women behind it.

Our Sr. Social Media Manager caught onto the trend Friday. We sent out a note of support, and followed up Saturday with a free Tree Of Life sticker pack, and a tutorial to help all of the curious mamas who wanted to create their own.

We shared this blog post on Friday, and have done multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter. We also shared in our weekly e-newsletter and created this tutorial for our YouTube page.


More than half a million people have posted photos of this trend on a variety of social channels!


The only new thing we did was create a free Tree Of Life sticker pack to make it easier for everyone to create!

We never had an issue with our server. But we are thrilled, obviously, that so many women are finding the tools they need to share these edits.

We really love that the Normalize Breastfeeding movement is about creating imagery that promotes the normalcy of infant feeding. And we’re glad the PicsArt app makes it easy for mamas to create this imagery. We couldn’t be happier for the women who are now able to share their special moments in such a beautifully artistic, yet simple-to-do, way.

We have had many co-workers who have breastfed. Especially our counterparts in our Armenia office. However, I am early in my pregnancy, and I feel very thankful that all of these amazing women are paving the way for a future where breastfeeding is normalized.”

…….

From Kristy @bfmamatalk: Tree of Life photo contest is going to be held on Instagram. You must follow @picsart & @bfmamatalk to enter .. The winner will get their Tree of life photo on a 16 X 16 canvas print. mamas need to upload a photo to instagram tagging @PicsArt & @bfmamatalk and use the hashtags #MadeWithPicsArt #BrelfieContest. They need to be following both of us on IG to win. We will randomly tag a winner. It will run for about 5 days. Also, their profiles need to be public so we can see their pics. Check it out for the official rules, here.

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Comments
  1. April Genung says:

    I’m currently breastfeeding my 20 month old son. His older brother is 3.5. I have been nursing and/or pregnant for over 4 years! I am an out and proud nurser and have never had any problems. I’m lucky!

  2. Shana Krings says:

    I love this movement and all it stands for. It is so important for women to have the support and courage they need to breastfeed anywhere and at any time!

  3. Esther Pelletier says:

    My breastfeeding journey started in 2013 but not how I expected. I had a preemie (34 weeker) who was taken straight to the nicu. A kind nurse expressed my colostrum for me while I cried. I then pumped every 2 hours around the clock and the nurses would tune or syringe feed my son. I was told they would probably supplement because there was no way I would make enough milk as the body isn’t always ready that early. I simply told them no. I would have enough. And I did! More than enough actually. After a few days I was able to try breastfeeding. After 2 weeks of breast, syringe and bottles of pumped milk we were discharged where I didtcjed the bottles and stuck to strictly breastfeeding. We continued until 22 months when he self weaned and I was in my last few weeks of my second pregnancy. I then welcomed another who I am still breastfeeding (even at the moment at 20 months) with no plans of stopping any time soon! We’ve had our issues with cracks, chronic blocked ducts, poor latches, and mastitis but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the magical bond that is breastfeeding!

  4. Emalee Hasek says:

    Breastfeeding has always been a challenge for us. My daughter was born with Gastroschisis and couldn’t eat for almost the 2 first weeks of life. (She had a central line and specific nutrition given to her through the iv) I pumped every day, around the clock, to make sure my milk came in and that she had enough.(we went home with our suitcase filed of frozen breastmilk!) The first colostrum she had was on a sponge that we rubbed on her gums. The first time she drank milk was from a bottle. Then it rotated between breast and bottle so we could mpnitor her intake. But it was my milk! By the time we left at week 4 (when we were told to expect to be there closer to 3 months!!) She was exclusively on the breast! Every day she got better at latching and nursing. She waneed to nurse and I wanted to nurse her! Our breastfeeding journey ended the day after her first birthday. I was so sick (pregnant with #2) and she was self weaning. I was sad to stop but she had decided it was time. I will always hold our breastfeeding journey close to my heart.
    My son was born almost 5 months ago and our journey was different and trying in its own ways. I had never fed new-new born, and felt very lost. He kept curling in his lips (which I didn’t catch) which caused a serious latch issue and resulted in very cracked and painful nipples. Not to mention he got thrush when he was 2 weeks old! But we didn’t give up!! We pumped the injured side while nursing on the healed, we saw breastfeeding counselors and LCs, we tried everything. After 3 months of hard work, tears, pain and worry I was finally completely healed and now our breastfeeding relationship at almost 5 months is blossoming! And I will continue to feed him as long as he wants!
    I love breastfeeding and I love the bond I get to have with each child as we go through our unique challenges and experiences together.

  5. Christy says:

    I dream of a breastmilk keepsake! Breastfeeding was hard work for me and I’m so proud of myself.

  6. Crystal Weil says:

    I’m currently breastfeeding my second child! She is 17 months old! I breastfed my first until he was 14 months. Unfortunately I had developed a horrible case of nursing aversion, and I didn’t know what it was until I had weaned my son, otherwise I would have tried to find coping methods. Thankfully he was pretty much ready to wean anyways, so it was not a traumatic experience for him. Though, I felt like a horrible mother until I realized what was actually going on. My daughter was a surprise pregnancy so I did not know I was pregnant, and that was why I had the aversion!
    Now, I am happily breastfeeding my daughter. She latched on right away when she was born and she hasn’t stopped since! She still nurses a million times a night and quite a few times during the day. I don’t see us quitting this gig anytime soon!

  7. Lacey Fitzgerald says:

    When I was pregnant with my first daughter everyone would always ask me if I was going to breastfeed or use formula. I hadn’t even given it a thought. Honestly it was the last thing on my mind. When she was finally born I had decided to breastfeed her but she was taken to the nursery and we didn’t get the chance to try until 8 hours later.

    Sitting in that hospital bed with my newborn baby at my breast, getting ready to latch made me so nervous. Just as I was going to get the formula out of her bassinet drawer something in me clicked and I decided right then to latch her on. It took some time but here we are 2 years later, tandem feeding with her 2 month old sister.

    It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done since becoming a mother. But also one of the most rewarding. Knowing that I’m the one that’s sustained her life with my body and made her feel safe. It’s a very rewarding feeling.

    I know our time nursing is coming to end though. I feel myself getting touched out and aggravated whenever she asks too much. Which seems like everytime her sister nurses. And I don’t want our breastfeeding story to end on a bad note. I’d like to look back and feel nothing but joy about it. But until we figure that out, we’ll keep on keeping on. Nurse on mamas!

  8. Bethann says:

    Currently breastfeeding my 7th baby. So glad to be a part of the movement to help normalize breastfeeding again.

  9. Sarah says:

    I use my milk for the whole family. I give my 2 year old milk baths and make my own lotions to help with her eczema. I use it for cold sores, nasal spray, red and itchy eyes. I have proudly nursed three healthy babies but i couldn’t have done it without the support from my hubby so a shout out to him! I have truly been blessed to be surrounded by so much support.

  10. Currently breastfeeding my 2nd son, he’s 7 months old and I will be devastated the day he weans! My 1st son was 14 months when he self weaned, hoping this one keeps going a while longer! Both boys were naturals and took to it so easily (they were both almost 11lbs when born so I imagine they were hungry little nuggets). I’ve had comments made to me “you’re not going to go past a year are you?” or “when they can ask for a boob that means they’re too old” but I don’t care, I will provide comfort and nourishment for my boy as long as he wants.

  11. Rachel says:

    I’m hoping to breastfeed for a year or more but I don’t have a story yet 🙂

    1. Tell us why you support breastfeeding!

  12. Kimberly Messina says:

    Thanks to all you AMAZING groups and advocates of breastfeeding women! I’m priveleged to be part of this movement! Can’t wait for the emoji, I would be dropping it right here! 💓👏👶

  13. Breastfeeding has been my life for so long but I love spending this quality time with my babies!!! I will be sad when it’s over(hopefully this baby and I can go at least to two years, she’s two months now). 💕💕

  14. Rebecca says:

    BF for 16 months and no plans to stop till he self weans (and even then I may pump and give him human milk). Why would I stop BF to give my baby cow’s milk?????

  15. Stephanie Kelso says:

    I started breastfeeding my daughter in April 2014.
    It was sometimes hard, but always worth it. I became passionate about continuing our breastfeeding relationship until she was done and spreading the word about the wonders of breastfeeding to anoyone that would listen. I became pregnant with my son when my daughter was 18 months old and my new goal became nursing through pregnancy and tandem nursing if She wanted to continue.

    She did and we have just reached 5months of tandem nursing! They are so sweet together when they are sharing and it makes my heart melt. One of the best things I’ve ever done!

  16. Heather Leacy says:

    I’ve breastfed for the better part of 5 years. 🙂 3 babies till self-weaning (one current nursling). I prefer not to share my selfies, but I do treasure them. I don’t have qualms about nursing in public – just feel like that is more intimate of a moment than I want to share publicly (same with a lot of kissing photos of myself and my husband). Anyway. Such a gift. It’s definitely had some very painful and difficult points. I’m grateful to have found a lot of support and like minded mamma friends.

  17. Danya says:

    I was only able to breastfeed my firstborn for a month after I medication I was given that was “safe while breastfeeding” dried my milk in 1 day. I was devastated. Fastforward 3 years and I am now going on 4 months of combination feeding my son. It has been a beautiful struggle but some breastmilk (as much as my body will make) is better than no breastmilk! I am trying my hardest to up my supply in hopes to EBF my baby boy. I know we can do it! Thank you for this movement. It means the world to so many amazing mothers.

  18. Becky Ginsburg says:

    We are going on 28 months breastfeeding. My son has been through some medical issues, and I’m so grateful for the extra comfort and nourishment I could provide.

  19. Kaitlynn Diaz-Pons says:

    Currently breastfeesing my 2nd baby. My breastfeeding journey was unfortunately cut short when i got pregnant when my son was only 4 months. We continued until he was 8 months when i stopped producing milk. He comfort nursed until he was a year. I moved in with some family members and let their comments about how great it was that he wasnt breastfeeding anymore (he didnt need to past 1 year in their eyes) get to me and i stopped. I had hoped to tandem nurse but hes no longer interested 🙁 i hope my breastfeeding journey with my daughter lasts a lot longer. I hope to get to at least 2 years with her. Thats our goal

  20. Christina says:

    I have been breastfeeding for close to four years now!
    I’ve shared my brelfies on my Instagram account, and have had two moms contact me for support…no one talks about how hard it can be!
    I hope to continue to be a source of inspiration and support by sharing my #normalizebreastfeeding photos! It truly is a beautiful thing 🙂

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