The following is a guest post by Stacey H. Rubin, M.N., APRN, IBCLC, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and author of The ABCs of Breastfeeding: Everything a Mom Needs to Know for a Happy Nursing Experience (AMACOM 2008), in response to Facebook‘s ban on photos of breastfeeding mothers. Currently, Facebook is standing firm on its ban (NYTimes Bits), recently overshadowed by its change in Terms of Service (Mashable).
It is hard to ignore Facebook’s prevalence today as it dominates social networking online. However, in matters of modern mothering, Facebook lags woefully behind the times. Facebook bans pictures of breastfeeding mothers from its website. Many mothers were shocked to discover that their photos had been removed from their Facebook page. Facebook claimed the images revealed too much nipple and areola and were therefore indecent. Nursing mothers were quick to object by circulating an Internet petition and staging a live nurse-in outside Facebook headquarters.
I believe Facebook’s Victorian attitude toward the lactating breast speaks to the fact that we live in a formula feeding society. Formula, bottles, and pacifiers are still perceived as the normal and acceptable way for a baby to be fed. Despite society’s [and Facebook’s] preference for formula feeding, the fact is, mothers’ milk is far superior in every way to commercial infant formula. Breast milk supports and promotes a baby’s physical, emotional, and intellectual development in ways that manufactured infant formula does not. Furthermore, the act of nursing fosters a unique relationship between a mother and her child that cannot be copied.
Sadly, too many moms abandon breastfeeding before reaping all the benefits that it has to offer. One of the biggest advantages of breastfeeding is its convenience. Mother’s milk is always safe, available, and ready at just the perfect temperature.
Despite the convenience of a breastfeeding relationship, many mothers tell me they feel embarrassed and reluctant to breastfeed their baby in a public place. The current climate is often less than welcoming toward a nursing mom and her hungry baby. One of my clients, an experienced mother of three, confided that she feared public disapproval and therefore went to great lengths to avoid needing to nurse her youngest baby outside of home. Before an outing, she would pump her breast milk into a bottle and transport the milk with her in a cooler. If her baby stirred in hunger while away from home, she would bottle feed her baby instead of nursing.
My client’s anxiety is not unwarranted. Recently I heard of an incident were a store employee told a young nursing mother to leave the premises. The mother was devastated and left in tears. Incredibly, this incident occurred in a specialty store that caters to the mothers of young children! Unfortunately, Facebook’s inhospitable policy toward nursing couples will only serve to undermine a new mother’s confidence in her natural ability to breastfeed.
Open your eyes Facebook and lead the way toward a breastfeeding–friendly society! Today’s generation of nursing babies are destined for a healthy, happy and prosperous tomorrow. Today’s breastfeeding babies are your future subscribers. Why not let these babies enjoy a meal on your web-space?
Stacey H. Rubin, M.N., APRN, IBCLC is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and author of The ABCs of Breastfeeding: Everything a Mom Needs to Know for a Happy Nursing Experience (AMACOM 2008). After graduating magna cum laude from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, she was commissioned as an Army Nurse Corp officer and served overseas during the First Gulf War. Following four years of active duty military service, she earned a Master of Nursing degree and moved to Connecticut where she works with the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, runs her own private practice, and lives with her husband and two children. Learn more at abcsofbreastfeeding.com.