Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Okay Mark Zuckerberg, let's get personal.

Nine hundred and eleven, Mark Zuckerberg.

Nine hundred and eleven babies die each year in America because they weren't breast fed.

If we go back and start counting at, oh, say 2007, when tens of thousands of women asked you to stop calling breastfeeding obscene, that nine hundred and eleven translates into over twenty five hundred babies.  Dead.

Twenty five hundred dead little babies, Mark Zuckerberg.

Because the mothers of twenty five hundred little babies were not given the tools, the support, or the education they needed to choose and succeed at breastfeeding.

Because when those mothers were little girls growing up, social media outlets like Facebook were busy teaching them that breasts are for sex, and that using them to nurture a child is offensive.

Because our society has allowed the greed of corporate America to sway public opinion into believing that scientifically created formula is superior to the nutritionally perfect milk produced by a mother's body.

I've said it once and I'll say it again.  Facebook is powerful.  You have over 400 million users around the world.  You can make a difference.  You've been asked to help.  You've been asked to change.  Again, and again and again, you have been asked.

Your response is patronizing.

You've ignored us.

You've ignored the calls to change Facebook's policies.  You've ignored the media reviews.  You've ignored your social responsibility to simply do! the! right! thing!  Mark Zuckerberg, you haven't just ignored.  You've failed.

You've failed mothers.

You've failed babies.

By refusing to become a part of the solution, you have remained a part of the problem.

The problem that leads to the deaths of nine hundred and eleven babies in America each year.

It's not all your fault, Mark Zuckerberg.  But it is a little bit your fault.  I would surely imagine that among the 400 million users out there, there has been at least one mother on the fence about whether or not to breastfeed her baby.  At least one mother wondering if she will feel embarrassed to use her breasts in this way.  At least one mother wondering who will support her.  At least one mother wondering if she will get in trouble for feeding her baby in public.  At least one mother who has never known anyone who has breastfed.  At least one mother who does not know how to breastfeed.  At least one mother wondering if others will feel offended by her choice.  At least one mother who gave up.

At least one mother whose baby died.

Mark Zuckerberg, you could have helped her.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! Breastfeeding is NATURAL, NORMAL, and extremely HEALTHY!

Paul Rapoport said...

This is one of the most powerful statements against Facebook I've ever seen, and I've seen many.

Anonymous said...

I believe in a woman's choice. I don't understand how baby's are dying BECAUSE they are not being breastfed... please explain!

April said...

To Anonymous above,

I also believe in a woman's choice. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows overwhelming evidence not only that we spend an extra 13+ billion dollars a year b/c of babies who are not breastfed, but shows that at least 911 babies die each year as a result - CNN provides a good summary at http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/05/breastfeeding.costs/index.html.

As far as choice goes, I do very much believe in choice: informed, educated, choice. Sadly, I don't feel like women in our society are given the information or education they truly need to make such choices - the cards are stacked against breastfeeding success just about any way I look at it, and that is concerning.

This is not a mother to mother blame game - we CANNOT expect women to choose and succeed at breastfeeding in the numbers needed to create real change until we start providing mothers with true support, education, and information.

Gemma-Rose Turnbull said...

Thank you April. The media (and facebook is a part of mainstream media with a huge audience) is a powerful tool in shaping how women feel about their bodies. Your words are articulate, poignant and beautiful. Fingers crossed that they reach an audience, the right audience.

mamapoekie said...

Wonderful post!

Cynthia said...

very nicely said!!

Lindsey said...

Women do need more support in regards to their choice to breastfeed their babies. However, the author of the article you cite states that this support should begin in the hospitals and birthing centers and continue through the education of the mothers and grandmothers of the new moms in order to ensure that breastfeeding moms have the support of those closest to them.
In this regard, I don't see how Facebook plays a role in the deaths of babies. Women are likely going to look for support and information outside of facebook, especially if their "friends" are not nursing mothers. Regardless, one can show support of breastfeeding without posting pictures of babies suckling.
Furthermore, you state that Facebook causes young girls to view their breasts in a sexual, rather nourishing, manner. I'm not sure I follow you on this point. The women who are new mothers now likely had nothing to do with Facebook when they were coming of age. Facebook was created in 2004. That's only 6 years ago. Furthermore, it was only opened to the public in 2006. Young girls, who are now mothers, did not form their views about breastfeeding and sexuality from Facebook. Does Facebook lend to the sexualization of breasts now? The site may, but so do many media outlets. In this post, you are solely blaming Mark Zuckerberg for the deaths of these babies. Why not blame the rest of the world? Why not blame Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and the New York Times for showing pictures of breasts? Why not blame the doctors and midwives for not properly educating the mothers? Why not blame the makers of formula for selling a poison disguised as nutrition? Why not blame the grandmothers and great grandmothers of the deceased infants for not properly supporting the new mothers? Why not blame the mothers themselves? Why? Because that would be too harsh. Yet, you blame a young man who started a website meant to connect people with one another for the deaths of children he never knew existed.

Daryl said...

Maybe you need to find a way to reach Michele Obama ...I follow ObamaFoodorama on Twitter which is linked to the White House ... I wonder if someone there can help .. planting a garden and encouraging good eating ... I think breastfeeding is part of that ..

MomTFH said...

Lindsay, I think the difference is that Facebook not only sexualizes breasts, but it actively deletes breastfeeding pictures on its site as pornographic, even after a well publicized campaign to ask them to stop.

I am not the author of the original post, but I don't interpret it as blaming him for all of the deaths. Facebook is the most popular social media outlet in the world. Many women who are having their first babies now have probably spent hours every week on it for years. And, considering our rising rates of teen pregnancy, and low breastfeeding rates among young mothers, and higher rates of infant mortality among teen mothers, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that some of the mothers whose children died from necrotizing enterocolitis, or whatever disease associated with not breastfeeding, may have "grown up" on Facebook.

One of the most common reasons given for not initiating breastfeeding is being worried how others will think of you, especially the partner. When the partners are interviewed, they would have been supportive, but the woman had a PERCEPTION it would be shameful.

No one is saying Facebook is solely responsible for the low breastfeeding rates in the United States, or that it lets health care practitioners off the hook. But, as a health care practitioner who has done lactation consulting, let me assure you that if I try to convince a woman to breastfeed who thinks it is shameful and pornographic, I am going to come off as a bully who is ignoring her perspective.

Social considerations are some of the most important factors in health decision-making, and it's not true that only doctors and midwives can make a difference. There are lots of countries out there with much widely lower rates of doctors and midwives per person, and no public education campaigns supporting breastfeeding, where the breastfeeding rates are much much higher than ours. Why would that be? Societal normalization of breastfeeding and acceptance of their peers, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Facebook is not the only culprit......YouTube removed an instructional video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxPsQC8PWHY and provided an absolutely asinine rationale - see below.

The video has been made and provided by Dr. Jack Newman, a renowned doctor who specializes in breast feeding and is the founder of Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute (NBCI)

Unfortunately, there is no way to even contact them and explain to the ignorant morons that this is an instructional video!

Regarding your account: momandbabyshop

The following video(s) from your account have been disabled for violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines:Breastfeeding - Squeezing Nipple Demonstrating Difference Between Poor latch - (momandbabyshop)

Your account has received one Community Guidelines warning strike, which will expire in six months. Additional violations may result in the temporary disabling of your ability to post content to YouTube and/or the termination of your account.

The YouTube Team

Anonymous said...

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Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring
a blog post or vice-versa? My blog discusses a lot of the
same topics as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other.
If you happen to be interested feel free to send me an e-mail.

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Anonymous said...

Hey! I know this is kinda off topic but I'd figured I'd ask.
Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a
blog post or vice-versa? My blog discusses a lot of the same topics as yours and I feel
we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to send me an e-mail.
I look forward to hearing from you! Terrific blog by the way!