Facebook censorship of breastfeeding

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OK, so the last time I got properly ranty on More Than A Mum was about breastfeeding and people’s, frankly bloody silly attitude towards breastfeeding in public. Well, @plus2point4 just made me aware of Facebook’s removal of photos from Beautiful Breastfeeding’s page for being “sexually inappropriate” and I’ve just got to get ranty again. Sorry if I’m being repetitive.

Beautiful Breastfeeding has had a number of photos removed from its site (see which one’s here at the Beautiful Breastfeeding blog) for being sexually inappropriate.  I find that language inappropriate.  What is sexual about feeding your child?  Nothing. If Facebook censors/bosses find breastfeeding sexual then it is their own morality that should be questioned.

Yes you can see some breasts, but they are not being paraded for sexual reasons, they are being used to feed children.  Does Facebook remove pictures bottles, or of food for that matter?  With the prevalence of free porn on the internet now I don’t think that many teenage boys need turn to facebook pages of mothers feeding their children for their kicks. And let’s be honest, if you’ve gone to a page entitled Beautiful Breastfeeding, you’ve got to have an inkling of what the photographic content might be, so no need to be offended.

If photos of women breastfeeding offend you, don’t look at them.  If women breastfeeding in public offends you, don’t watch.  What offends me is that people’s personal, and frankly ridiculous, views about the natural human body can be enforced through illiberal censorship and worse than that these can be enforced on such a healthy, natural and important activity as breastfeeding.

The number of women in the UK who solely breastfeed their child at 6 months is below 1% despite The World Health Organisation recommendations, and with attitudes like those displayed by Facebook’s censors, this will not improve.

So, Beautiful Breastfeeding are asking you to help by telling Facebook how ridiculous and prejudiced they are being. Write your own blog post, share the blogs of others and contact Facebook. The links below will help you to do that.

Mark Zuckerberg’s official FB profile where you can send him a private message (he is the founder and chief executive at FB):

Chris Cox’s FB profile where you can send him a private message (he is the vice president of product at FB):

Facebook’s official FB HQ page where you can comment:


Breastfeeding in Public

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I was going to blog about something else today, but then I heard about a lady who was asked to stop breastfeeding in Debenhams, Oxford, because it was a public place. .. and that made me cross.

It is this kind of backward and ridiculously prudish attitude towards breastfeeding that means some women feel trapped in their home with new babies and many give up breastfeeding at the earliest possible opportunity.

In the UK the number of mothers who exclusively breast feed at 6 months is below 1%.  This is despite The World Health Organisation recommendation that exclusive breastfeeding has several advantages over mixed feeding.

One of my many roles as “More than a Mum” is a breastfeeding peer supporter. One of the most regular concerns I deal with is from Mums who feel that they’ll never be able to feed outside of the house.  I have had a woman turn up with a 5 month old child, distressed that she had not been out other than to friends and families houses, because she didn’t think you were allowed to breast feed in public in this country.  That is how  institutionalised this attitude is in the UK.

Breastfeeding is a brilliant thing to be able to do for and with your baby.  It has a number of health benefits for your child and for you (not to mention cost benefits), but moreover, it is your right!  You have the right to breastfeed your baby in any place, unless there are health and safety reasons which make it dangerous. If you need confirmation of this, take a look at this link.  I am fairly certain that Debenhams couldn’t suggest breastfeeding discretely in the corner of Dune shoe shop presents any health and safety issues.

Anyway I don’t wish to rant at you for too long, but I do want to let you all know about the brilliant reaction of the Mum in question. Emily John has set up a social-media protest.  She has set up a facebook event and wants to get as many Mum’s as possible to have a “Nurse-in” at Debenhams in Oxford.    If you are a nursing mum in the Oxford area, please join up.  I’m sure you’d also be welcome as a supporter, feeding or not.  Please pop along to Emily’s “Debenhams Nurse-in” event page on facebook and sign up, and then pass this information on to anyone you know who supports breastfeeding.


A little update 10/10/11 Debenhams have apologised but the ‘Nurse-in’ will still go ahead to raise awareness.  BBC coverage here