World Breastfeeding Week pops off today, and while I am a big supporter of breastfeeding (as much as I am a supporter of the right for women to choose what they do with their bodies), I'm not the biggest supporter of women (and men!) oversharing about breastfeeding on social media. The convergence of these two things occasionally leaves a bad taste in my mouth, because as much as I condone the discussion and promotion of breastfeeding, I don't necessarily want to know the intimate details of the breastfeeding relationships my friends have with their children. That's not to say that I find breastfeeding repellent in some way; I honestly don't. But it irks me that some women's version of advocacy and awareness results in an onslaught of information and photos that could have remained private. After all, part of what makes bonding so special is that it's experienced between a mother and child, not a mother, child, and 500 of her friends, neighbors, and relatives.
What irks me even more is knowing that many of the women who choose to disclose such details consider anyone who's weirded out by them to be anti-breastfeeding. Why does everything have to be so binary? Can't some of us be pro-breastfeeding and anti-breastfeeding TMI? According to the groups and "proud mamas" on Facebook, the answer to that is no. You're either all in or you're a traitor. Well, this year I want to stand up and say YES to breastfeeding advocacy and World Breastfeeding Week awareness, but NO to posting certain details on social media. (Also, NO to the examples previously discussed in a similar column from last year, and here are my thoughts on Facebook's removal of photos that are noncompliant with the network's policies.)
Let's take a look at five status updates you may want to avoid posting this week, even if you are a pro-breastfeeding supporter:
1. Pumping and Driving
There are debates over whether or not it's safe (or legal, depending on where you live) to express milk while driving, but there's no debating (in my mind, at least) that the details should be kept offline. Sure, we all tend to multi-task while driving, and it is possible to pump hands-free, but it's nothing to brag about or even joke about on Facebook. Unless you want people to think you're Kim Zolciak from The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
2. Boobs and You
While I understand why some women feel like cows, dairy queens, or human pacifiers, that joke doesn't translate well for me on Facebook. It can sound like a woman is defined by her breasts, or like her child has taken control of her body, as demonstrated by Michele. Do you want your friends to think of you as "Melanie" or do you want them to think of you as "Melanie The Human Pacifier"?
3. Don't Be a Jerk
Tara can claim being "sad" all she wants, but to me she just sounds like a judgmental asshole who throws around statistics to make people feel bad. No one wants to be put down for their parenting choices, especially mothers who don't breastfeed for any number of reasons. Don't be a jerk about breastfeeding or you become part of the problem.
4. Don't Photograph Your Supply
This woman defines irony by posting on Facebook that she hopes her possibly-slightly-lopsided breasts aren't noticeable -- after posting a picture of her visibly-slightly-lopsided milk bottles. Talk about a strange way to "divert" the attention that no one was paying in the first place.
Next time you want to post a picture of your supply on Facebook, try to remember that no one cares. It's okay to be proud of yourself for pumping and sticking with breastfeeding, but no one likes a show-off. Even if it's under the guise of lopsided boobs self-deprecation.
5. Don't Discuss Drinking It
I don't really care what people eat or drink, but I can say that I'd rather not picture my male friends drinking their wives' breast milk (or hear about my girlfriends drinking their own breast milk). It may not be very different from drinking milk from an animal, but it does seem to make people feel superior. And nothing makes my stomach churn like a breast milk-loving "foodie." Not everything has to be discussed on Facebook, even if it is guaranteed to get a rise out of your friends.