The Breastfeeding Chronicles: The Tree of Life

Last week, the Internet blew up with the Tree of Life hashtag. If you didn’t see it or don’t know what it is, pop over to Instagram and take a look.

A photo posted by LesBeMums (@lesbemums) on

My personal stance on it is that it’s beautiful. It’s inspiring. It’s natural. There’s a reason why the folks that normalise breastfeeding started it. Again, go take a look at that hashtag on Instagram to see what it’s all about. 

Soon after it blew up, lots of fun photos started appearing alongside the photos of women breastfeeding their babies. Parents holding coffee cups, vodka bottles, you name it. If there was a vessel, people put a tree and a fancy filter on it.

But then the criticism and negativity began. Primarily from those who don’t/weren’t able to breastfeed for whatever reason. 

Let me just say that I have no negative feelings towards those that formula feed their baby instead of breastfeed. How you feed your child is your choice. You got this. Own it. If you chose (or had no choice) to formula feed for whatever reason then good for you. You made a choice and went with it. Again, own that choice. 


If you formula feed and then take offence to women sharing breastfeeding photos, whether it’s part of the tree of life hashtag or not, or feel the need to berate the women who show themselves breastfeeding, then there is where I have the problem.

See, one of the visions behind the Tree of Life image is how it physically represents the womans breast. The anatomy of how a woman breastfeeds her child and how it looks like a tree and it’s roots. Look!

Therefore, the Tree of Life…

  • It is not about the war against bottle vs. breast.
  • It is not about breastfeeding women acting or feeling superior to formula feeders.
  • It is not about breastfeeding mums making formula feeding mums feel guilty.
  • It is not about formula.

If that’s what you saw, then the issue is not with those that breastfeed. 

The Tree of Life (to me, anyway) is about PRIDE

    The pride that breastfeeding women feel when they’re feeding their child (or when they think back to the time when they did). 

    The pride when they can provide milk when their baby sends a message to their breast telling it they’re hungry or need comfort. 

    The pride when the blood from a woman’s breast creates the milk – regardless of whether it’s bottled, through a tube, or straight from the tap. 

    I don’t doubt for a second those that formula feed their babies don’t feel pride when they’re providing nourishment for their baby (have you seen the price of formula?). The important thing is that they’re fed.

    But… the biological make-up and process of how a woman breastfeeds their child in comparison is different. It just is. And it’s hard. You can’t argue with that. 

    The cracked nipples. The leaking. The mastitis. The toe curling pain during the first few weeks. The pumping. The pumping. The pumping. It’s all enough to drive a woman mad and therefore hashtags like #TreeOfLife or #NormalizeBreastfeeding is what drives breastfeeding women to keep going. It gives us a moment to share our journey. Our pride. Do we not deserve it?

    So let us have it and, please, don’t belittle it and turn it into something it isn’t. 

    As another wonderful blogger wrote;

    Nobody needs to judge others or take someone else’s success as their failure. 

    Its OK for people to be proud and doesn’t mean others should read things into it that aren’t there.

    Breastfeeding mums; including myself until a few weeks ago, have enough against them with the media and formula companies belittling what breastfeeding represents, don’t make this innocent hashtag about formula as well.

    Because it really isn’t. Honest!


    5 thoughts on “The Breastfeeding Chronicles: The Tree of Life

    1. Hannah Budding Smiles says:

      Yes!!! I’ve had a post about this brewing but haven’t actually written it down yet. It pisses me off that essentially the criticism means we should never take pride in a damn thing we achieve and that is just wrong xx

      • Kate Everall says:

        Thank you!!! Exactly.

        I can understand that if you were unable to do something, then seeing lots of pictures of said task is going to sting, but why criticise or make it about your inability to do said task? Just let the folk that can do it be proud of their achievement, not feel bad because you can’t. Why have we always got to bring each other down? X

    2. Steph at Mental Parentals says:

      I’ve not produced a Tree of Life photograph as I don’t really like to show quite so much in my breastfeeding photos – and I don’t take many of them either! BUT I love that these have gone pretty viral on Social Media. I think that it’s unfair that breastfeeding mothers are pounced on when all we’re doing is sharing our pride in providing for our children using our bodies – what they were made to do. I wouldn’t dream of saying anything derogatory about someone sharing their pride in formula feeding their child. Excellent post (and far more eloquently written than my comment haha) x

    3. Plutonium Sox says:

      A great post. I haven’t done a tree of life but I’m still feeding my 2 1/2 year old and I’m quietly proud of it. Actually I think she’s probably coming towards the end of breastfeeding now and for the first time in years I’m starting to feel a bit broody. I’ll miss breastfeeding, it’s such an amazing bond and I don’t know how anybody can say anything negative about it, especially if they’ve never done it.

    4. Nyomi says:

      Love this post, totally agree with it. I think it’s such a shame that the tree of life photos have been met with negativity.

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