breastfeeding a child with type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes shouldn’t stop you doing anything, especially the most natural thing in the world, feeding your baby. With support and preparation, anything is possible.

Last year, I photographed over 10 nursing mothers and their babies/toddlers as part of a Model Call on breastfeeding photography. This project really reinforced to me how meaningful my work can be. I am providing mothers, families with more than just photographs. By capturing their bond, freezing a moment in time, I am giving them the power to relive the emotions years from now. For some of the mothers I worked with, the experience was made even more powerful because of health issues.

Rosie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at just 5 months old.

What I was most impressed with during this photo session is how much Rosie’s type 1 diabetes is part of their life. Suvi constantly checks her daughter’s sugar level either on her watch, her phone or Rosie’s insulin pump. It’s like second nature to Suvi. As she said herself, Rosie is her first child and she doesn’t know any different. It’s part of their daily life. To me (and probably to a lot of mums), she is a hero!

Breastfeeding has been very important for Suvi both before the diagnosis, and after. This is why she wanted professional photographs of her and her nursing little girl.

“Breastfeeding has meant a lot to me. When my daughter was admitted to ICU on diagnosis, we were in the woods for a bit. She was hooked up to lots of machines, getting lots of blood tests and needle pricks. After 24 hours of nil by mouth, they allowed me to feed my baby. They helped her into my arms. I breastfed her skin to skin and she slept in my arms for two hours. It was a little piece of heaven in the shock and fear of her diagnosis. I was able to comfort her in a way I only could have because of breastfeeding. Although it was so scary, it is one of my favourite moments with her.”

During the session, I could see how important breastfeeding was to mother and daughter.

Suvi also has to check Rosie’s glucose level 24/7 and she explained that breastfeeding allows her to regulate her daughter’s glucose level at night very easily as she can just nurse her while sleeping.

It’s hard to describe the special relationship that Suvi and Rosie share. By spending that little time with them I could feel the love and pride of Suvi for her courageous daughter.

Rosie, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to take notice of any of this. She just lives her life like she knows how: full of mischiefs, laughs, chit chat and checking her glucose levels in the middle of all that. Suvi’s little sweet pea (as she calls her) has a beautiful and strong mummy and I wish the two of them a lot more cuddly nursing sessions.


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