Thursday, January 6, 2011

breastfeeding & Facebook

Recently, a fan page that I "like" on Facebook has been through some controversy. The Leaky B@@b is a support page for breastfeeding moms to ask questions, swap stories and commiserate over issues. The other day, Facebook deleted the page because it apparently violated the Terms of Service. Then FB reinstated it. Then they deleted it again. It's been reinstated now for a few days and hopefully is here to stay. You can read all about the drama here on the New York Times blog "The Motherlode." Some say the issue is the fact that moms are posting breastfeeding pictures, which some deem offensive; other people believe Facebook has got something against breastfeeding. Who really knows?

Drama aside, I want to personally comment on behalf of online breastfeeding support groups like The Leaky B@@b. This generation of nursing moms are tuned in to social media like no generation before them. While groups like La Leche League are fantastic, not every new mom has the opportunity to attend a meeting - maybe they're too far away, or they have a few kids at home and can't make the time. While lactation consultants can be hired and consulted in person and over the phone, not every mom can afford one. Connecting to other nursing moms online is, in some cases, the only exposure to breastfeeding support that some women have. Many moms do not have the support of their family and friends when they take on a challenge like breastfeeding, and it's just not easy to go at it alone. And it's not all about solving problems - women need to have a place where they can go to feel supported, inspired, and to have their accomplishments lauded as well. Case in point - ME! Remember when I gave birth to a very tiny, very premature little dude (who, thanks to the power of breastmilk, is not so little anymore!) I knew ZERO preemie moms in real life, and when faced with bedrest and then a long NICU stay, the internet was my friend - I went to an online community (LiveJournal's breastfeeding support community, to be exact) to seek out other preemie moms because I had no idea what I was getting into with pumping, trying to get the teeniest mouth to latch on - it was hard work! As a result, I "met" other preemie moms online, read success stories, got pumping tips and saw pictures of moms nursing their tiny preemies. One particular story stuck with me - a mom had HELLP syndrome, just like me, and had her son 10 weeks early, just like me - but her son successfully breastfed! If she could do it, then I could do, too, I declared. Eventually I was posting my own success story to the site, surrounded by women who patted me on the back virtually. As an isolated NICU mom pumping (and later, nursing) around the clock, knowing other women were proud of me and excited for me - and my son, who was thriving - was so critical to our success as a nursing mother and son.

So whether it was about nursing photos (which are probably the least obscene pictures involving breasts, EVER) or about Facebook's supposed vendetta against nursing moms, all I know is that virtual, online places that support nursing women are necessary to the success of many nursing mamas, myself included. Women need to SEE breastfeeding, if not in their real lives, at least online. As for Facebook, I think it's HIGH time for some new rules about breaches of Terms of Service - automatic deletions are not acceptable any longer! I am thankful that my nursing photos have never been flagged but I have had friends who have had photos deleted without warning because of Facebook's silly policy of automatic deletion due to "obscenity." Hopefully this will all be resolved soon!

1 comment:

  1. You are actually blogging about the power of love and a support system.