Breastfeeding photo 'shattering barrier' for children with Down syndrome

By Lydia Goerner | Jul 21, 2017
Courtesy of: Nicole Starr Photography Top row (left to right): Ella Gray Cullen with her daughter Julia Grace; Michele McAdoo Fox with her daughter Harper; Beth Wood with her son Rian; Jennifer Elsinger with her daughter Emily; Aimee Kadehjian with her daughter Catherine; and Cristina Colanti with her daughter Mae. Bottom row (left to right): Shu Lai Talun with her son Lewis; Timna Serino with her son Rory; Tammy Marot with her son Oliver; and Lynn Murray with her son Cayden).

A Wareham woman joined a recent breastfeeding photo shoot with her son, Oliver, that went viral and has been seen by people around the world.

Tammy Marot of East Wareham took part in a breastfeeding photo shoot through the organization Julia’s Way, a non-profit founded a few months ago for parents of children with Down syndrome. Ella Cullen, the executive director of Julia’s Way, wanted a photograph of moms of children with Down syndrome to encourage other parents and “reimagine life with Down syndrome.”

The shoot featured ten moms breastfeeding their babies on a beach in Marshfield. It has over 15,000 likes on social media and shares from Love What Matters and PopSugar Moms, who have almost 10 million fans combined. Thousands of breastfeeding and Down syndrome organizations have shared the photo around the world.

“This is shattering another barrier that’s been put in front of children with Down syndrome,” Marot said.

Since breastfeeding can be difficult for babies with Down syndrome, some women are told not to bother trying to breastfeed their baby. A survey conducted by Julia’s Way found that around 30 percent of women were told by a doctor that their baby could not breastfeed.

Cullen said breastfeeding her daughter, Julia, was difficult at first because of Julia’s low muscle tone and sleepiness, but she persisted though her doctor told her it might not be possible.

“I wanted to celebrate being able to breastfeed because it was difficult,” Cullen said. She said the project’s focus is encouraging and supporting moms who want to breastfeed, not shaming others who have not made that choice.

For Marot, breastfeeding her son Oliver, now 1 year old, was an easy process. Marot said she felt “very fortunate” that she didn’t experience problems, although Oliver had to nurse more frequently than her two older children had and he gained weight more slowly.

“It’s important to let parents know both sides,” Marot said. “It’s not only possible to nurse through adversity, but it is possible that you won’t have any adversity, or very little.”

Marot said she is “appalled” that some doctors discourage breastfeeding because it has so many health benefits.

“These children, more than anyone else, they really need the breast milk,” Marot said.

Cullen’s next project is to release videos with information on breastfeeding babies with Down syndrome, using women who have been through it to share their stories. The first video will be on the Julia’s Way website next week in time for World Breastfeeding Week, which begins August 1.

Cullen is also working on a book on this topic, which she plans to make available this spring.

For more information or to share a story on breastfeeding a child with Down syndrome, which could be used in the book, visit

Tammy Marot and her son Oliver. (Courtesy of: Nicole Starr Photography )
Comments (4)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jul 21, 2017 11:35

Some think WBTS is conservative.  Conservatives usually don't like public breastfeeding.  I wonder what WBTS thinks about this?  He might surprise y'all. This is great and all good.  Breastfeeding is the best way to nourish a baby. It's how God created us mammals. It's perfectly natural.  The list of benefits is long, especially for these special babies that really need breast milk.  If a Down's baby doesn't have the muscle tone to breastfeed, the mother can still pump. Why isn't that mentioned and encouraged as an option so that they all can benefit from it?





Posted by: 181mph | Jul 21, 2017 16:41

i agree WBTS, and it's why i still bring a couple oreos to bed with me

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Jul 21, 2017 20:35

That joke is what we call a groaner, 181.


Isn't it interesting that legislation had to be passed to specifically protect nursing mothers from perpetually-offended Puritans, here in the state that prides itself on being the first in the nation to legalize gay marriage.


Good for Tammy and Ella!

Posted by: SammieJfive | Jul 23, 2017 21:00

When did people forget that breastfeeding is the most natural thing a Mother can do for her child? I went to a lactation specialist, because I really wanted to breastfeed my son.....but was having problems with it. He was born healthy over 20 years ago, and there is help out there if you care enough to look for it! Lots of resources. And yes, WBTS, I totally agree with thinking outside of the box, being creative, and pumping. Same thing, just delivered differently. The benefits FAR outweigh the drawbacks.

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