Artist Lauren J. Turner: Creating Positive Birth And Breastfeeding Images
Editor’s Note: Black Breastfeeding Week (BBW) is August 25-31, 2020. As La Leche League USA celebrates BBW and brings National Breastfeeding Month to a close, we’d like to share the story and work of artist Lauren J. Turner. Lauren is the owner of Lauren J. Turner Fine Art & Birth Nerds, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband, five-year-old son, and three-year-old daughter.
New Beginnings: What prompted you to start Lauren J. Turner Fine Art?
Lauren: I felt passionate about creating art that promoted positive images of birth and breastfeeding.
NB: Please describe your artwork.
Lauren: My artwork is a form of storytelling. Most of my paintings are from life experiences.
NB: Do you have a favorite medium?
Lauren: I usually paint with acrylic paint. Perfect for multitasking!
NB: Please share how your own birth and/or breastfeeding experiences have inspired you and led you to where you are today.
Lauren: After becoming pregnant with my first, I was so excited that I posted my new journey on Facebook. I received a message from my high school film teacher. She shared her ideologies of birth. Some of the things she mentioned were shocking. “People really have babies at home?” I asked my husband. Later, she sent me a video called “The Business of
Being Born.” My husband and I watched it, and it opened a new door. I began to research more about birth and decided to opt for a home birth.
My first birth journey led me to an empowering home water birth. My labor was primarily alone. I tried to remember how important it was to focus and ride the waves, but most importantly, I followed my body. I felt safe, nurtured, and loved. I labored during my transition period in the bathtub until I got those forceful urges to push.
Somehow, I found my way into the birthing pool. I remember feeling so open, amazed, and focused. I heard the natural sounds outside my son’s window. I had the sudden urge to reach down, and I said to myself, “Wow, this is really happening!” My son’s head was peeking out, and I felt so much hair. I started to rush but felt the burn, so I took my
time and worked with my body. My husband was able to catch our baby boy in the water. I didn’t need any physical help, but having a midwife in my birthing space allowed me to feel safe while experiencing the birth my way.
My second labor was challenging and completely different from my first experience. My mind wasn’t focused on the experience of my birth, and my daughter’s shoulders got stuck. Some of the negative thoughts I felt during my pregnancy came to light during my birth experience. There is a moment in labor where you give in and submit to your inner power that you can’t control. Instead of giving in, I started giving up. I remember standing in the living room begging for my daughter to just come to me. My supportive team reassured me of my ability to get through those moments. My midwife began to put me in positions to help the baby move down. My husband gently poured water on my back while I rested in between the long powerful contractions. I started feeling the urge to push.
My tired body gained energy without warning and I focused on bringing her into the world. With skilled help from my midwife, I was able to labor with strategies that allowed me to stay home and deliver safely. I learned to let go and have faith. I also learned that every birth experience can be different. My beautiful girl came happily and healthily into this world with love, and I was so happy to be around a patient midwife.
During my postpartum with my second child, I began to unravel my birth story. I tried to figure out why both births went so differently. I realized that during my first pregnancy I was feeling supported and positive throughout it. During my second pregnancy, I was dealing with stress and negativity that carried into my labor experience. Birthing our children is a connection between mind, spirit, and body. It is not just about getting the baby out. Birth for me was about teamwork and working with my physical body to deliver my daughter.
NB: How long have you worked as a doula? Can you tell us a little about your philosophy when it comes to birth and your doula work?
Lauren: Birth was also a reality check and this made me passionate about helping other women. During my postpartum period with my daughter, I began to look into birth art. Those beautiful images of women birthing created a fire inside me. I became a doula but felt I wasn’t fully aware of the challenges around hospital births. I put birth work
on hold and used this time to become a resource center for families.
NB: In 2020, we celebrate the 7th annual Black Breastfeeding Week. Why does Black Breastfeeding Week continue to be so important?
Lauren: Black Breastfeeding Week feels like a special time to celebrate. It’s a time to capture those special moments around the challenges, joy, and love around lactation. It’s a time to accept and acknowledge the challenges surrounding black maternal health.
- Black Breastfeeding Week: blackbreastfeedingweek.org/
- Top Five Reasons We Need a Black Breastfeeding Week: blackbreastfeedingweek.org/why-we-need-black-breastfeeding-week/
- Lauren J. Turner Fine Art: laurenjturnerfineart.com/
- Lauren J. Turner Fine Art on Instagram: www.instagram.com/laurenjturnerfineart/
- National Database of Lactation Support Groups for Families of Color: docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1C3eKyS43XpfH6EVpBwUT5DMhcwg_T9sKmDpeaKYpUkU/htmlview (The National Database of Lactation Support Groups for Families of Color is curated by La Leche League USA Leader Nekisha Killings. It is designed to be a ready resource for families seeking culturally competent/humble lactation support in their communities. The database is constantly growing as new groups are being added.)
Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].
Supporting Breastfeeding Families–Today, Tomorrow, Always
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