In 2008 I began my pregnancy art project, inspired by henna traditions practiced by women during the 8th month as well as postpartum in the rural regions in India. I had read about these traditions in Catherine Cartwright Jones's book, The Functions of Childbirth and Postpartum Henna Traditions.
After celebrating their pregnancy with henna, I offered to come to women's homes in the first month after birth and create our own version of the postpartum ritual, often hennaing their hand(s) and arm(s) while their baby was asleep in their lap. I would return to photograph these new mothers in their home and after a couple years of doing this, I asked if I could also photograph them while they nursed their baby. The first mama to really get into this and have me come to her home several times was Kala (in 2010), her photos are above.
I continued photographing breastfeeding mamas after applying postpartum henna. Women loved it! It was only a matter of time before someone asked me to do a new kind of postpartum henna, what I would start calling breastfeeding henna. Verna (above on right) was one of my first models for this new kind of art.
Breastfeeding is such a beautiful, natural act to witness. It fills me with appreciation for motherhood, especially the mother I'm photographing. I love honoring this phase in life. Here are some images of this type of work done in 2018.