Emma Waverman writes about the chaos of modern family life. She is the co-author of the family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them and is hoping to one day finish her certification as a parenting coach. She lives with her three kids, ranging from tween to grade schooler, and husband in Toronto. Emma has written for a variety of national parenting and lifestyle magazines and newspapers. When she's is not making typos, telling you what she thinks, and thinking about dinner, you can find her on Twitter at @emmawaverman. You can contact Emma at embracingchaos@hotmail.ca.

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Why Does Facebook Hate Breastfeeding?

Jessica wanted to reach out and connect with other breastfeeding moms. She felt after her experiencing nursing five girls she had some wisdom to share and knew that nursing women often need to connect and exchange stories. To make it easier, she started a Leaky B@@b Facebook page as an offshoot of her blog, The Leaky B@@b. The Facebook community grew beyond her expectations to approximately 16,000 active monthly users, affectionately called "Leakies".

But then when she woke up on January 2, the community was gone, erased by Facebook for violation Terms of Service.


Within hours another Facebook page: Bring Back the Leaky Boob [update: the page was terminated by Facebook on Tuesday, January 3] was formed and by the end of the day had over 4,000 members had joined. For many new mothers the Facebook community had become more than just a page about breastfeeding; it was a place to vent, get support, lend a hand and give and get advice. The outraged Leakies are talking about nurse-ins at the Facebook offices on Friday, January 7. They are disgusted that Facebook decided that a supportive community covering topics of women and babies health is "obscene". In response, many women have changed their profile picture to a photo or image of a nursing child.

Mom nursing toddler in public at the beach This is not the first time that Facebook has taken down breastfeeding photos. In 2007, Kelli Roman's breastfeeding photos were deleted from her personal page; in response she started a Facebook page called,  Hey Facebook, breastfeeding pictures are not obscene. It currently has 258, 156 members with 6,855 pictures of breastfeeding and grows daily.

There are all sorts of images of breasts on Facebook (I checked): huge ones peeking out of a bra, fully naked, and even advertisements for breastfeeding products but it seems that only pictures of a mother nursing her child are inappropriate. (Check out Momotics for a post of some of what Facebook considers appropriate and PhDinParenting's breakdown of the issue)

In a New York Times article in 2009, Facebook said that showing the nipple is the problem, not the breastfeeding and that the company is just responding to complaints. It is hard to believe that people are complaining about pictures on their friend's profile pages, or that someone just tripped over the Leaky B@@b and was offended by the pictures.(Unless of course someone was searching for boobs and then was offended to see them being used as a food source, not a sexual object). There are some rumblings that there is a troll who searches out breastfeeding pages to report them and have them removed, or a disgruntled community member reported the page, but who knows.

The worst part of this particular action is that Facebook has removed an incredibly supportive place for  breastfeeding women to ask questions, seek advice, connect and celebrate. And they haven't even responded to Jessica's request for an explanalation for the termination.

Jessica wrote in an email that The Leaky B@@b Facebook page was started as an online pub:

a safe place for breastfeeding moms and the people that support them to get information, share stories and build community. I had in my head this idea of a community tavern where travelers meet up and exchange tales, encouraging new travelers and passing on road wisdom. Something I feel we've lost in this culture, we are so isolated in so many ways.

If I was currently having breastfeeding problems I would want to be part of that community. I'm not sure why Facebook is so threatened by it.

Mark Zuckerberg describes his personal interests as: "openness, making things that help people connect and share what's important to them, revolutions, information flow, minimalism" . That seems slightly ironic doesn't it?

If you would like to support The Leaky Boob, "Like" their Facebook page: Bring Back the Leaky Boob. (this page was removed by Facebook on Tuesday for violating their Terms of Service, click here to show your support.

(photo courtesy of Dagmar Bleasdale from Dagmar's Momsense. It is now her profile photo on Facebook.)

Update: Facebook contacted Rebecca on January 3and told her the Leaky Boob page was taken down in error.  But by 11 p.m. The Leaky Boob page was removed once again and this time the Leaky Boob support page was also taken down for violating Facebook's TOS. To support The Leaky Boob and to send a message to Facebook click on their third page: "Join TLB in Support of Women's Health."

Do you think breastfeeding pictures are inappropriate? Do you think Facebook has a right to pull down photos and pages about breastfeeding?

Enjoy this post? 'Like' the Embrace the Chaos Facebook page to get each post directly in your newsfeed

Want more? Last year I was was writing about the importance of advance notice when it comes to playdates; as in calling the minute the barf hits the floor.

Reader Comments (105)

If breast feeding is obscene then I think food courts should be banned from malls. If the little babies can't eay why should we get the pleasure? Also, I believe that if we continue this line of thought that all art meuseums should ban the female form, from Michelangelo, to Dali, and beyond. Lastly, I would like to say to all women out there: if you're having problems with your communites on the issue of breast feeding, you are more than welcome to come up here to Canada, where exposed breasts are protected under our human rights acts so nobody can tell you when and where to feed your child.
January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason
I breastfeed my baby wherever, whenever she is hungry and I have received no backlash about it. I also live in Canada. I also, however, cover up when I feed her. In the first few months when I carried her around in a sling a lot, sometimes I could have whole conversations with people while my daughter was feeding in the sling and people didn't even know it was happening. There are special nursing bras and even nursing tops with hidden flaps so you don't even have to lift up your shirt. There are nursing shields, like blankets but that shield your child from view so both mother and child can enjoy privacy in public without covering them like a blanket would. These things are all readily available (at least here they are) and of course, you can buy them on the Internet too. Breastfeeding in public is a controversial subject, like it or not, and it makes some people uncomfortable. I am 100% for breastfeeding, all the way, but I don't understand purposely making people uncomfortable by taking pictures of it and posting it online in a public community. By the way I also understand how hard it can be to breastfeed, as I had difficulties myself, and needed the support of the breastfeeding community; I'm just saying that some of the pictures on the site (not all of them, not even most of them) in question seem to be more about "look at me" than about legitimate support of breastfeeding. See for yourself.
January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertammy
all of you people are getting side tracked by the nice picture on top of this page.look at the pictures that were banned FULLY NAKED WOMEN if your breast feeding your baby covers your nipple does it not why the hell am i seeing naked women then. breast feeding is 100% ok but do you do it naked in public no so why is it ok to post your naked body on a website where more then half of the users are underage kids make your own website!!.and what is the obsession of having to post these pictures on facebook why does the world have to see you FULLY NAKED BREAST FEEDING WHY? TO ALL OF YOU WOMEN THAT COVER UP THANK YOU LIKE THE WOMEN ON TOP OF THIS PAGE.TO THE WOMEN THAT SQUEEZE THERE KID BETWEEN THERE BOOBS NOT EVEN BREAST FEEDING AND HAVE TO POST IT ON A PUBLIC SITE I DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT TO SAY ITS GROSS.and sex is perfectly natural to but you dont record a video of it and post on a damn public site for children to see. if you did the cops would be knocking at your door same thing with FULLY NAKED BREAST FEEDING WHICH EVERY WOMAN THAT I HAVE TALKED TO AGREES ITS GROSS REALLY STRANGE THAT YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO POST IT TRY EMAIL
January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternice guy
While I do agree this page would be a useful resource to breastfeeding mothers, I can't understand why people act like it's the end of the world because it has been removed. Facebook is not the only social media site out there! There is a whole, wide Internet people can use to start host a breastfeeding support site.

1) Use of Facebook is a priviledge, not a right. When a person chooses to join Facebook, they also choose to accept their Terms. If Facebook has deemed that someone has violated their terms, they can remove the page. Discreet photos (as shown above) should be okay... half-naked women shouldn't.2) Facebook can't catch everyone! If you get pulled over for speeding, you can't say to the police "Well, I saw someone speeding WAY MORE yesterday!" and have the officer say "Well, okay then, I'll let you go and go get that person." If Leaky B@@b page was allowing inappropriate pictures, they should deleted. And if you see inappropriate content elsewhere, report it!3) Monitor your page. If there is an issue with obscene/inappropriate comments or pictures, the Leaky B@@b post has the responsibility to take them down. Once those are gone, Facebook shouldn't have any ground to keep deleting.4) If the problem persists, try hosting the page elsewhere, and have a post on the FB page saying "Moved to this link, come visit us at a site that doesn't discriminate against us!" Well... maybe not those exact words...
January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDucks
I am almost 8 and 1/2 months pregnant with my first child. My husband and I want me to breastfeed- I think it's one of the most beautiful things a mother can do for her baby. That being said, some women cannot physically breastfeed. I am getting closer to the whole breastfeeding in public situation, and these comments have not helped me to feel better! While I understand people being uncomfortable, what about the baby. When it's 90 degrees outside, would YOU want to be eating under a sweaty hot blanket?? I don't think so. Wuld you want to eat in a bathroom stall?? I don't think so. Nevermind, that when my baby is crying in public, I'm going to be worrying why, wanting to stop it right away. If I whip out my boob quickly, and get the baby to stop crying faster, then you might not even notice us. People need to mind their business, it's NOT about YOU. It's about the BABY. It's not even about the mother. It's about the BABY. If every place had an available breatfeeding room , believe me, breastfeeding mothers would use it.
January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

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