Update:As of July 24, 2019, there have been three separate instances in three weeks in which Facebook has blocked or unpublished Imalac’s page due to imagery related to breastfeeding. While these disruptions by Facebook have impacted our ability to promote our mission, we will NOT compromise the content we feel supports and empowers a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, be it online or in real life. If you would like to show your support or join the conversation, please see our #dontmesswiththebreast campaign on Instagram @NurturebyImalac
After five days of completely disappearing from Facebook with no warning whatsoever for the infraction of posting a picture that someone in the great unseen world of the interwebs objected to …we are finally back! The photograph in question was of a woman breastfeeding her baby, content that squarely falls within the parameters of acceptability published by Facebook guidelines.
The mission of Imalac, the company my daughter Rachael Kish and I co-founded in 2016, is to provide tools, educational information and support to breastfeeding mothers. After three years in development we are finally ready to launch our first product, Nurture by Imalac, and we are in full start-up mode as we prepare to ship in October 2019. The timing of our “disappearance” from Facebook was extremely upsetting as social media is the primary way we communicate with our audience and numerous customers reached out to us concerned that we had gone out of business.
Nurture, Imalac’s innovative addition to the breast-feeding market, is a hands-free breast massage system designed to improve the efficiency of a breast pump by simulating hand expression, a technique that has been scientifically proven as significantly improving the breast pumping experience. The use of Nurture decreases the time it takes to pump and more completely empties the breast thereby enabling the mother to get more milk for her baby as well as improve the nutritional value of the milk expressed. Massage also decreases the incidence of clogged milk ducts and mastitis.
From the early foundation of Imalac we have been actively engaged in Facebook, providing positive educational messages and images to both encourage and normalize the most natural of all body functions—that of a mother feeding her baby breast milk. The use of a photograph of a breastfeeding mother along with educational content is completely within the context with our mission.
We have no idea, no way of learning and it probably doesn’t really matter, what it was about this photograph that caused someone to complain and flag it as inappropriate “nudity and sexuality”. Was it because the woman and child were African American? Was it someone who is upset by a semi-nude single breast or someone against breast feeding in general?
The point of this blog is not to complain about Facebook and their policies in general. I also care that social media sites are a safe place for everyone. Although, I do wish that Imalac had been given notice before the site was taken down, a placeholder on the blank site to let followers know what was happening and a much shorter time than 5 days to review the “offensive” photograph. My primary concern however, is that at a time when the benefits of breast feeding are so well documented, when almost 80% of women are educated enough to begin their journey as mothers by breastfeeding and yet at a time when more then 60% of women fail to meet the exclusive breast feeding 6 months minimum recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, that we haven’t figured out a way to be more supportive of breast feeding in our society as a whole. Facebook blocking a picture of a woman nursing her child is both archaic and puritanical, reinforcing the stereotypical and misogynist sexualization of the breast. A relevant example was in the news this week when a breastfeeding woman was made to cover up on a KLM flight. This intolerance is just not acceptable. This past year breastfeeding in public was finally approved in all 50 states. Women who are breast feeding need to be encouraged and supported in multiple ways. They should be able to feed where ever they are comfortable and not be body shamed into feeding in isolation as western culture has dictated for so many years. A little-known fact is that if every woman breast fed their child for only 6 months it is estimated by the World Health Organization that over $13B would be saved annually in health care costs. This is a big deal, especially considering all the conversation about rising health care costs and how to make health care more efficient. The health benefits of breast feeding to both mother and child along with the related savings are beneficial to all of society.
So, let’s all unite as we approach World Breast Feeding Week August 1-7! Great unseen world of the interwebs, employers, families, friends and anyone who comes in contact with breastfeeding mothers, help be part of the solution and show support to the breastfeeding women in your lives.
Noreen Gordon Sablotsky
Founder & CEO, Imalac