10 powerful viral photos we loved in 2019

These photos made us laugh, cry and rejoice all year long.

10 powerful viral photos we loved in 2019

Pictures can tell stories in an instant and in 2019 photographers can get their photos in front of a large audience in an instant, too. We live in an amazing age for creators. We don't have to go to a gallery or a photo exhibit to see art that speaks to us. We only have to look at our phones to see the beauty of the human imagination and the world.

Here are a few of our favorite images from the past year:


This photographer's viral breastfeeding photos are so important

Alicia Atkins is a breastfeeding advocate and owner of Alicia Samone Photography, Alicia has dedicated herself to educating the public about breastfeeding by getting the public used to seeing it.

Her annual group breastfeeding photoshoots have been going viral for years now, and Alicia recently explained to Motherly why breastfeeding portraits are so important to her art.

"I was judged for nursing at a table, at dinner, and as my daughter got older. It's my goal to make all moms comfortable and confident in breastfeeding whenever they want. However they want," she explains.

👏👏👏

In some of her portraits Alicia's subjects strip down for skin-to-skin contact and show not only the beauty of breastfeeding but the beauty of postpartum bodies and body confidence.

This is a beautiful photo.

Viral photo series proves kids can be a princess AND an athlete

When mom and photographer Heather Mitchell was a kid, she was equally attracted to athletics and an aesthetic most people don't associate with so-called tomboys. "I played every sport my school offered and wore lipstick to every game," she says in a statement to Motherly.

So when Mitchell was at softball practice with her 8-year-old daughter Paislee and another parent suggested that Paislee couldn't be an athlete because she presents as a "girly girl," Mitchell got an idea.

She wanted to use her talents as a photographer to prove to her daughter that she doesn't have to choose. Soon, she and her daughter were in the middle of an awesome photoshoot.

When Mitchell posted the photos to her personal Facebook page she was inundated with requests from fellow parents who wanted to schedule a similar shoot for their girls. An employee posted some of the resulting shots to her business page and the pics went viral.

We love how Mitchell's art proves that girls don't have to choose. They are complex people with multiple interests!

These powerful viral photos prove feeding a baby is beautiful no matter how you do it

When photographer Felicia Saunders uploaded a portrait of three mothers feeding their babies, she could not have imagined the impact she was making.

In August, Saunders published the below portrait on her Instagram and Facebook accounts to mark World Breastfeeding Week and month. There are so many beautiful photos of breastfeeding online, but Saunders wanted to create something that shows at all types of infant feeding are beautiful and that even when mothers feed their babies differently, they still have so much in common.

In the weeks following her her post not a day went by without Saunders receiving emails or messages from mothers who can relate to the story she was trying to tell through this image. "My own battle with guilt from not being able to breastfeed really helps fuel my inspiration, we all do what is our own best and that truly is the best," Saunders tells Motherly.

Read the whole story (and see the rest of the photos) here.

This viral newborn photo honors loss in such a beautiful and powerful way

After years of planning her fertility journey as a single mom, Heather Bowman was thrilled to learn that she was expecting twins, but she was also scared. Her twin pregnancy came after multiple pregnancy losses, including a previous twin pregnancy, and a diagnosis of unicornuate uterus, a rare uterus malformation.

So when Bowman's doctors couldn't find a heartbeat for one of the babies at her 17-week ultrasound, Bowman was devastated. Her son's heart was no longer beating, but his sister's was, and so Bowman rallied herself for the rest of the pregnancy.

When her daughter Leti was born, Bowman opened up about her losses to photographer Jessica Young, who had been recommended by a friend. Young came up with an idea for Leti's newborn photo shoot that honors her brother James' place in her journey. When Bowman arrived and saw what Young had planned for the shoot, she "lost it," she tells Motherly.

When Young shared the image online, suddenly Bowman's little girl was going viral. It's something Bowman never even thought of the day of the shoot, but now that it has happened she is very grateful that she "can possibly provide hope, positivity, and a voice for others in a similar situation as mine."

This viral photo shows just how emotional a mama's breastfeeding journey can be

This powerful photo from Brazilian mama Maya Vorderstrasse went viral in 2019 because so many mamas can relatel. Her husband captured the first time she ever breastfed their second daughter and next to it, almost two years later, the last time she fed their daughter from her breast.

And it's not just the photo that is powerful. In her caption Maya shares her emotional struggles with weaning and the tricks they used to make this transition easier for their youngest daughter.

The caption reads:

"The first and last time my precious daughter ever nursed.

I didn't know that one person could feel so proud and so broken at the same time, right now I am a hormonal, emotional, and mental mess.

Raising my arm in this picture was very difficult for me as I had to fight through uncontrollable tears: this picture meant that I would never breastfeed my daughter ever again. I have been nursing for so long, that I don't know what it's like to not nurse anymore.

As I looked behind the camera, my husband is crying like I had never seen him cry before, like seriously, a deep gut cry. I was her comfort, her safe place, and I hope she still finds me that way. A month shy of 2 years old, she finally has a bed in a shared bedroom with her sister. We bought her her first bed, used any distraction we could come up with, snacks and new toys to keep her mind off of it.

My husband has taken over bedtime completely, including all nighttime wakings. We are on our third day, and every day gets a little bit easier. The guilt I feel for not putting her to bed is so intense and I can't wait to go back to it once she doesn't ask to nurse anymore. Closing a chapter is painful, but I am hopeful that this new season of our lives will also be special in its own way.

Through this maturation step she will not only grow more independent, but I will get a much needed break. She unlatched for the last time and sobbingly I said to my husband: "I did my best". He hugged me and responded with: "No. You did THE best, because you gave her your all". I love my family and am so thankful for such special and unforgettable moments like these. 💛

*my lazy boob has no clue about what's going on, but thoughts and prayers are accepted for my good one, I really think it might explode🤱🏻

**thank you to my husband, for insisting on filming this, I will treasure this forever.🤳🏼👩"

These viral birth photos are helping parents picture life in the womb

This year Brazillian birth photographer Janaina Oliveira and a baby boy named Noah helped parents around the world imagine what their baby's world looked like between the ultrasound picture and their first breath.

While most babies are born without their amniotic sac intact, Noah entered the world (via C-section), still cocooned inside his. This is known as an en caul birth, and while it wasn't the first Oliveira has captured through her lens, it is likely now the most famous of her photographs.

Read the whole story (and see the rest of the photos) here.

This mama's powerful postpartum photos on Instagram celebrate her eating disorder recovery

Influencer Hayley Garnett understands that postpartum recovery can be hard, especially for mothers who have previously struggled with eating disorders and body confidence.

In 2019 she is feeling at home in her body and that body went viral.

Now a mom of a son and twin daughters, Hayley celebrates the amazing body that gave her those beautiful babies.

"It's funny because during both of my pregnancies, I was horrified with how my body was changing just because I was used to being tiny," Heyley told TODAY. "But after I had my babies, life felt so much different. There was so much more for me to focus on and look forward to and just be grateful for."

She has so much to be grateful for and we're grateful to her for sharing.

This viral photo of a dad and stepdad are co-parenting #goals

In 2019 a new, beautiful picture of co-parenting (and masculinity) was born.

Photographer and mama Sarah Mengon captured a series of now viral photos of her daughter Willow and her two dads, David Lewis and Dylan Lenox, taken moments before David and Willow headed into her Daddy-Daughter dance. Dressed in her princess best, 5-year-old Willow is framed by two men who have put away old-school ideas about how to be a man in order to be great co-parents.

Some would label these two as Willow's biological father and step-father, respectively, but the two guys told Motherly they don't really like labels like co-parent or step-parent. They're just Willow's parents.

😭

Read the whole story (and see the rest of the photos) here.

This viral photo of a mom's home birth surrounded by her 5 daughters will leave you in awe

When Casey Teller gave birth to her sixth daughter in 2019 had her whole family there. She chose to give birth at home, where her daughters could share the experience.

Teller's five little girls—12-year-old Audrey, 10-year-old Ella, 7-year-old Lillian, 4-year-old Zolie and 2-year-old Zuri—were thrilled to be the welcome wagon for their new little sister, Talullah.

Talullah's birth was Teller's second home birth. Zuri was also born at home, but this was the first time Teller had a professional photographer with her to capture her birth. The experience was also a first for photographer Rebecca Burt. She usually does wedding and lifestyle shots, but jumped at the chance to capture Teller's midwife-assisted birth.

For someone who doesn't normally photograph births, Burt told an amazing birth story. Read the whole story (and see the rest of the photos) here.

This viral photos show that fire halls can have baby booms

They say pregnancy can be contagious among friends (seriously, it's science) and a mini baby boom at California fire department is some pretty compelling—and seriously cute—proof.

As Today reports, nine firefighters in Cucamonga, California welcomed nine babies over just four months in 2019. Of course, they had to celebrate with a photoshoot (and of course it's going viral). 😍

Gabrielle Costello is married to one of the firefighters, Logan Costello, and their daughter Charlotte was the eighth of the nine babies. Her mom posted the photos online and can't believe how they've spread.

"I had no idea it would go viral," she told Today. "We just wanted to commemorate a special time and remember the moment."

True

The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

Conz Preti

Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


Belly oil

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

$58

Belly mask

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

$42

Nipple + lip ointment 

HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

$28

Belly tattoos

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

$18

This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

You've got this.

Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

The Motherly Birth Class

pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

$79

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14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$19.95

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$79.99

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

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Extended breastfeeding just happened for me—and I'm in no rush to end it

My son is two and a half and still nursing, and it's what makes sense for us.

eclipse images/ Getty

When I became pregnant with my first child, I assumed that I would breastfeed. I also assumed that I would pump and give bottles. I even had all the bottles, a bottle warmer, and a bottle drying rack all ready to go. I made sure I got my pump before the baby came, so I was ready. But then, I actually tried pumping a couple of times and hated it. It was tedious, time-consuming, and not as effective, so nursing was the standard between my two children. It came naturally for me, and I found it the easier of the two options since I stayed home with them anyway. I was always there when they needed it.

I was able to breastfeed my first until she was two and a half, at which point, I was seven months pregnant with her brother. Between the hormones, being touched out, and being uncomfortable, I decided to fully wean her. It had been coming for some time because the clock was ticking on getting her to sleep on her own before the new baby came since we had been co-sleeping up to this point.

I cut night feedings first, moved her to her own bed, and then weaned her completely as I went along in my pregnancy. She still wanted to nurse to sleep, but I had to stop eventually because I was so uncomfortable. My body and brain could not take it anymore, but I'm proud I made it that far with her and that I nursed that far into pregnancy.

When my second child came around, my son, breastfeeding was not only easier, but I found myself here: extended breastfeeding.


He recently passed two and a half, which is where my daughter stopped, and he is still co-sleeping. He still nurses quite a bit, because his tummy hurts because of constipation issues. He still uses it to soothe and help him go back to sleep at night. He's getting too big to stay in our bed much longer, but I'm in no rush to wean him completely until he's ready.

Being able to stay home with them has definitely fostered the breastfeeding relationship. Cuddling is a huge part of it, too, and I'll continue to breastfeed until it makes sense to stop.

While my husband doesn't always agree with that philosophy and tells him that he's a big boy and can be done having milk, it's ultimately not up to him. I told my son that we would work through it together.

It is still an emotional connection thing, and at the same time, it still has benefits for him. He's still getting nutrients especially designed for him. He's still getting supplemental nutrition while he doesn't want to eat as much otherwise if his stomach is hurting.

My body has been doing this for a long time. I'm used to it. While I get touched out some days, I also know how helpful breastfeeding still is to help him settle down and how much he still appreciates it. I don't feel the need to cut him off quickly—both for his sake and mine.

I'm also painfully aware that this is probably my last baby. My breastfeeding journey, over five years in the making, will soon be over. As long as he is still getting the benefits and I'm not stressed over it, I'll let it continue on a limited basis. I know it will end soon—it has to. He will be growing up and entering the next stage before I know it. But until then, I'm going to cuddle my baby boy a bit longer. I'm going to let him nurse at certain times and in certain situations.

I never intended to do extended breastfeeding with either of them, but it just happened naturally. And that's okay. You need to do what makes the most sense and do what your intuition tells you is right for your family.

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