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Breastfeeding After Gastroschisis – Member Story

Renée Barendregt and her baby Harry, who was born with gastroschisis

Our closed breastfeeding support group is full of amazing parents who use their own personal experiences to support and inspire others.  Some of these parents are facing challenges that seem impossibly difficult.  Renée Barendregt is one mum with a story to share about breastfeeding her baby Harry, who was born with a birth defect called Gastroschisis.

Renée‘s Story

Harry was diagnosed with Gastroschisis when he was in the womb at only 12 weeks. Gastroschisis is when the bowel is protruding out of a hole on the stomach that is meant to close over around 10 weeks. Depending on the size of the hole, more than just the bowel can be growing on the outside.

As you can imagine this was a huge and heart breaking shock for my partner and I.  We learned that our baby boy would be taken into surgery as soon as he was born.Before I even conceived, breastfeeding was extremely important to me. I believe it is a true blessing to nourish our children in such a natural, beautiful way. But I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to begin with. I knew it would be challenging, especially after learning that he would not feed for possibly the first 2 weeks.

Harry was born by emergency Cesarean at 34 weeks and 5 days weighing 2kgs. Although we were nervous, we had the whole pregnancy to somewhat ‘prepare’ ourselves. Harry was taken from us straight away. All I was able to do before he left was touch him with my finger. There were doctors surrounding him, helping him breathe. At this point I was sad. I didn’t get skin to skin contact and couldn’t breastfeed him straight away.

He Couldn’t Have Any Milk At All

For the first 3 weeks of Harry’s life, he was not able to have any milk. He did not have one single drop of milk for the first few weeks of his life, because his bowel was not working properly yet. Yes, you’re right, he would have been starving. And for me as a mother this was heart breaking. I had my alarm set 24 hours a day and pumped every 3 hours. It was hard and confusing because I couldn’t be with him over night. Every part of me was yearning for him.

I would take my breast milk into hospital each morning and by the time he could actually have any, there was bucket loads.

Feeding Harry

I couldn’t directly breastfeed him straight away, he was fed through a tube in his nose. The doctors had to monitor exactly how much was going in to determine that his bowel was working properly. He started with a tiny 2ml every 3 hours until his bowel “woke up” and was able to tolerate more.

Renée Barendregt and her baby Harry, who was born with gastroschisis
Renée Barendregt and her baby Harry, who was born with gastroschisis

It got to about 3 and a half weeks and they said I could try and breast feed. Although I had to drain my boobs first they explained he still would get a small amount! I was so excited the moment finally came. He fed wonderfully.

As a mother, I cant help but feel guilt over those weeks. I wasn’t able to respond to my baby when he was hungry or scared or be there next to him 24/7. But I gave him as much comfort as I could in the situation that faced us. The nurses fell in love with Harry, they always said he was so good and never complained, even when he was hungry those first few weeks.

Our breastfeeding journey was a little up and down when Harry got home from hospital, but we have stuck at it and are still going. Harry is now nearly 10 months old, and is as healthy as any other ‘normal’ 10 month old. At this stage there will be no further issues with Harry’s tummy.

I would love to meet more mums and hear more stories. Follow our journey on Instagram

Renée x”

Thanks so much Renee, for sharing your story with us.  Renee would love to meet more mums and hear more stories.  She would love for you to follow her on Instagram here.

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PNDA Awareness Week – The Lady Across The Street (Poem)

As it’s Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Week, it feels like the right time to share a poem I wrote a while ago, about a lady who lives across the street from me.

She was always fairly reclusive and kept to herself, but when she brought a new baby home, I was really worried that she might be struggling. I’ll admit I was that crazy neighbour staring through my blinds multiple times a day. She didn’t leave the house and didn’t seem to have any visitors. Her baby screamed a lot, at all hours of the day.

Then I noticed she’d start leaving the house while the baby was screaming. Not crying, but really really screaming her head off. She’d stand in her front yard, while I could hear her baby screaming and choking. I wasn’t sure if she was stepping out for a breather when the crying got overwhelming, or if she was trying to implement some sleep training at a very young age. The most worrying thing for me, and now also my husband too, was the disconnected look on her face when she was standing out the front, watering her garden, while her distressed baby screamed and gagged alone inside.

When I posted on Facebook, asking friends what they would do in my situation, the overwhelming majority was to mind my own business and to not judge. I was really disappointed that my friends thought I was judging this lady, because I wasn’t – I was worried about her, and I don’t think that’s the same.

In the end, I actually did go over to her house with a cooked meal for her one afternoon, and I told her that it sounded like she could use a break from cooking that night. She looked embarrassed, and although she accepted my meal, she didn’t talk to me, and she shut the door quickly. A few days later, I came home to the plate on my doorstep with a thank you note, but now whenever I see her, she avoids me. It hurts my heart to know that I might have made her feel ashamed, I just wanted to check in on her.

Anyway, I don’t know what the moral to this story is? It feels wrong to me to ignore what feels like warning signs that someone might be struggling. Even though I’m devastated to feel like I embarrassed this lady, I still maintain that I am glad I let her know I cared enough to try and do something nice for her, and hopefully she felt a little less alone that day.

I guess the happy ending of sorts though, is that about a week after I took that meal over, I noticed she was getting more visits. It looked like perhaps a community nurse started visiting once or twice a week, and an elderly man (perhaps a grandfather) started visiting often, and he’d walk the little girl up and down the street. I remember feeling teary when I noticed the way he always held her in his arms, never put her in a pram, always kissed her and talked to her while he walked with her.

So after often thinking about this lady, her family and whether I was out of line by going over, or whether that might have got the ball rolling on somehow getting this lady some help, eventually I wrote this poem to vent some of my frustration about the whole situation. Most of it is accurate about the situation, but I’m happy that the actual lady across the street appears to have had a happier ending than the one in the poem.

“The Lady Across The street

There’s a lady who lives across the street
She’s lived there quite a while
She doesn’t look like a happy person
I’ve never seen her smile

There’s a lady who lives across the street
I see her puffing at her gate
She struggles to walk up her steep driveway
She’s really quite overweight

There’s a lady who lives across the street
I tried to say hello
Not wanting a friend, she turned away
What could I do but go?

There’s a lady who lives across the street
She leaves her baby screaming
She stands in her front yard watering her plants
Vacantly staring, daydreaming

There’s a lady who lives across the street
Her hair is always messed
She collects her mail just in her robe
Why doesn’t she get dressed?

There’s a lady who lives across the road
Her face is lined with sadness
Her daughter has beautiful, curly blonde hair
Why can’t her mum feel gladness?

There’s a lady who lives across the street
I don’t think it’s a happy home
Sometimes her husband leaves late at night
To sleep in his car, alone

There’s a lady who lives across the street
But they took her body away
“We knew she wasn’t doing well”
Is all the neighbours could say”

The PANDA National Helpline has trained counsellors available on 1300 726 306.  They also have lots of information available on their website here.

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LaVie Lactation Massager (AKA Boob Vibrator)

A few weeks back, my Facebook newsfeed exploded with posts about the Lactation Massager from LaVie – a new kind of vibrator especially designed for clearing milk blockages.  I was tagged in a lot of these posts by friends and followers who remembered a post I put up back in January about using a vibrator on my own blockages.  My friend Diana at Milkbar Breastpumps got in touch with me around that time and offered to send me a LaVie Lactation Massager for my feedback.

I felt a little skeptical about this product, mainly because I have been using a cheap vibrating wand from eBay which works really well – would the extra expense for a dedicated boob vibrator be worth it?  And would it actually work better?  Not only that, but the LaVie did seem to resemble a sex toy, which again, caused me to wonder what advantages there would be to using a LaVie instead of my cheap vibrating wand.

Why Use Vibration?

Basically breastmilk is thick and can coagulate to form a blockage.  Vibration might help your milk drain more effectively.  If your milk flow is restricted, either by engorgement caused by oversupply or infrequent draining, or by something pressing on breast tissue (eg a bra or shirt that’s too tight) blockages can form, that further stops your milk from flowing properly.  Vibration can help dislodge blockages and liquify them enough to get them out of your breasts.  It also feels really satisfying for  your breast to be drained so effectively, and I also find the vibrations relaxing, like a supercharged massage on my skin and across my chest muscles that are often too tight from spending too much time sitting with a poor posture.

What features does the LaVie come with?

The LaVie Lactation Massager comes with some pretty cool features:

  • It has a rechargeable battery, so you can use it without being anchored to a power point
  • The battery also charges up super fast.   The brochure said it would take up to 30 minutes.  I didn’t check exactly how long, but I plugged it in the first time, and when I looked at it about 15 minutes later, it was fully charged (and it wasn’t charged when it arrived because it wouldn’t turn on)
  • It’s a medical grade silicone and BPA free.  It feels lovely and velvety soft
  • It’s completely waterproof, so you can take it in the shower and submerse it in the pool or kitchen sink.  This also means that you can use something oily to aid the massage effect (which I recommend, because although the medical grade silicone is soft, it doesn’t glide across your skin as well as a smooth plastic would)
  • I would describe the LaVie is broadly shaped and is capable of sending vibrations across a fairly large area, which is handy when you’re dealing with a large blockage
  • It has varying levels of vibration and vibration modes, so you can find what really works for you

Is it just a rebadged sex toy?

This question may not be running through your mind, but it was definitely running through mine.

Being a vibration tool, the comparison was always going to be there.  I have seen sex toys that look exactly like the LaVie, right down to the silicone covering, the bright girly colours and the shape.  The variety of vibration modes also add to this comparison (eg buzz pause buzz buzz pause buzzzzzzzz pause – I am still a bit confused about how these types of modes are useful in lactation).

But the vibrations are too broad.  They are clearly designed to stimulate a large area.  If this was a sex toy, the vibrations would either be concentrated at the tip for clitoral stimulation, or the actual massager would be shaped either as a phallus or with a curved tip for g-spot stimulation.  Also, after some experimenting, I can see that the shape of the LaVie is excellent for reaching blockages that are deep within breast tissue.  If you want an orgasm, you’re not looking for something that’s going to stimulate your deep tissues.

In conclusion on this point, if the LaVie actually is a rebadged sex toy, it wouldn’t have been a very good sex toy.  If you want to wear it in your underwear or have a play with it downstairs then I won’t judge you for it, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it’s been designed for breasts.

Should you buy a LaVie?

If you:

  • Are comfortable with the $39,95 price tag;
  • Not comfortable with the idea of buying a sex toy to use on your breast;
  • Looking for something wireless; and
  • Looking for something waterproof:

then the LaVie could be a great choice for you!  I can especially see it being popular as a gift you might buy for a new or expecting parent.

If you also like supporting local retailers, then you should consider shopping at Milkbar Breastpumps.  The LaVie was gifted to me in exchange for my review.



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“My Husband Wants Me To Stop Breastfeeding” – An Expert Weighs In

We share anonymous member posts in our closed support group on Facebook.  A recent post about an unsupportive husband attracted a number of comments from our members, ranging from upset to concerned and even absolutely outraged.  Although all of the comments had the best of intentions, the member did not find many of comments suggesting she was being abused, or that she should leave her husband, very helpful.  While it can be triggering to hear of a fellow woman being treated by her husband in a way that we would not consider acceptable in our own relationship, if we are to help someone, we need to be able to meet them where they are.  We need to be mindful that coming on too strong could leave someone like our anonymous member feeling like everyone is giving her a hard time, that she is to blame and that she can’t go anywhere for non-judgemental advice.

Thankfully, there was one particular comment from Gina Haitidis, who has degree in sociology and criminology, as well as a masters in both social work and forensic mental health majoring in child psychoanalytic psychotherapy, that felt very balanced.  Gina offered insightful and practical advice that empowered the anonymous poster.  We are very grateful for the variety of members we have in our 30,000 strong group and appreciate experts like Gina taking time to reply to our members.  Below is an altered version of the original question, together with Gina’s response.


“My husband wants me to stop breastfeeding my son.  We have daughters together, but he makes fun of my son when he cries for me, and says things like “he’s such a girl”.  My husband also thinks I should stop breastfeeding because he says it’s stopping me from losing weight.  He isn’t open to the idea of talking to a professional about this.  Has anyone got any advice on dealing with an unsupportive husband?”

Gina’s expert response
I have quite a bit of training in this kind of thing and based on what you have chosen to disclose I would say that he is possibly unsure of his role in your family dynamic and relationship.  There are a few reasons I would suggest this:

1. Your third child is a boy and he as a father possibly has had fantasies surrounding the relationship he would have with his son. It appears (most likely because your son is still very young) that you are living out your husband’s fantasises, but he is not. This could make him somewhat jealous and insecure.

2. This is further emphasised through his remarks of saying your son is being like a girl when he cries for you. Your husbands may be saying this for two reasons – One being again he is not the first point of protection or comfort and two, he would feel somewhat left out of your special relationship.

3. With respect to your weight I’m not sure of the background to the comment, but if you yourself have mentioned weight loss in the past, then this might be a way of him trying to persuade you in a positive supportive light (although it might not come across that way). Or if you have brought it up in a negative light, again his way of trying to somewhat emotionally provoke you to stop. He may think that if you stop breastfeeding, he can be with you and have possible a more confident role in both his relationship as a father and partner.

The positive is that he is communicating his needs albeit subconsciously – maybe make him conscious of his remarks and talk through them in a safe unjudgmental way.  We are all human at the end of the day, and some people hate the idea of “professional” help – it might be worthwhile considering a different therapeutic approach like going for a long walk together and cultivating your relationship with just the two of you.

I would also suggest encouraging father son time, something that just they do that you and your daughters don’t participate in, that’s enjoyable.”

Relationships Australia offer a variety of services to families, and are an excellent resource for anyone who is experiencing relationship issues.

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Successfully Breastfeeding A Preemie Baby – Member Story

Nicola Rigby is a member of Breastfeeders in Australia and has offered to share her story about successfully breastfeeding her preemie baby.  We hope that other families may feel encouraged and boosted by this story.

Nicola successfully breastfeeding her preemie baby

We had our second baby on the 28th of Feb at 30+1wks. Elsie was born prematurely due to my cervix shortening.  She did incredibly well from the moment she entered this world.  She had her first breastfeed at just 1wk old (31wks).  Baby’s aren’t supposed to develop their suck, swallow, breathe reflex until they hit 34-36wks gestation.  Elsie continued to breastfeed more and more each day.  She was fully breastfed with no top up NG feeds by 35wks and we were discharged home at 36+4 fully breastfed.  She has never had a bottle (downright refuses it).  She is now a happy and thriving 8mth old (5.5mths corrected).

Skin contact is very important in establishing breastfeeding. Both Elsie and Nicola were undressed
Principles for attachment are similar to those with a full term baby
Elsie had her first feed at the breast at just 31 weeks.

Did breastfeeding your first baby help prepare you for your second?

I did breastfeed my first baby but he had issues with attachment so we used a shield for the first 6wks then he developed reflux and failed to thrive so we had to comp feed and I was only able to feed him for the first 6mths.  Breastfeeding my first (Locky) did somewhat prepare me for Elsie although I’m also a midwife.

Did you have help from an IBCLC or other professional while establishing breastfeeding with Elsie?

I did have a lactation consultant visit a few times in the nursery also which was great.

Elsie always was and is a huge boob fan!
Elsie is still breastfeeding, and shows no signs of stopping
Elsie is now a thriving 8mo (5.5m corrected)

Do you have a breastfeeding story you’d like to share with us?  Please email us at

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He Weaned – A 5.5 Year Perfect Moment

Up until recently, I was a tandem-feeding mama, with my 2 and 5 year and I old sharing many breastfeeds together over the last few years.

Mr 5 was breastfeeding twice a day (morning and night), but over the last few months that’s changed, with morning feeds gradually slowing to a stop, and many night time feeds skipped without any incident.  The relaxing of routines during the recent school holidays meant that bedtimes were a much more casual affair than normal.  Instead of heading off to bed at his usual bedtime, Mr 5 had many late nights and fell asleep in the lounge room or in my bed, or even in the car, instead of in bed.  And this change seemed to make it easier for him to let go completely.

There was one night during the holidays when he was overtired and distraught.  I brought him to his bed and he kept screaming at me “I WANT MILK!”.  Even though there have been plenty of nights where I breastfed him to ease his distress, this time I didn’t.  I explained over and over that I knew he was upset, and as soon as he calmed down he could have milk.  I told him I wasn’t saying no, I just needed him to be calm first.

When he eventually calmed down, he did latch on briefly, but then unlatched and settled in my arms instead, with his face very close to my face.  It’s like he had learned that breastfeeding wasn’t going to fix his problems.

Once upon a time, breastfeeding fixed all problems.  You know what they say – a newborn only needs 3 things – nourishment, warmth and love.  Breastfeeding provides all 3.

But then your newborn morphs into a child, and their needs become much more complex.  Reassurance and love now come in the form of words, hugs, laughter and small acts of service, like the special breakfasts where I arrange his food into a funny face.  He loves those breakfasts!

Although I didn’t know his breastfeed the next morning would be the last, I’m thankful I was in the moment enough to remember it clearly.  The blinds were open just a little, his eyes were closed and he was snuggled next to me, instead of draped over the top of me.  His sister was asleep behind me, so it was just him and me.  It was just like when he was a newborn – like that one perfect moment spanned 5.5 years.

And just like that, it seems we’re done

Now I’m only breastfeeding one

Weaning didn’t live up to my fears

The occasion passed without sadness or tears

He still often comes to my bed

He has no breast, but cuddles instead

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Hotmilk’s ACTIVATE Flexiwire Breastfeeding Sports Bra Review

I have put a few posts up on my Facebook page lately, hinting at a wave of motivation to get moving more as the weather warms up.  Diana at Milkbar Breastpumps noticed, and offered to send me one of Hotmilk Lingerie’s Activate breastfeeding sports bras.

The Activate breastfeeding sports bra comes with flexiwire.  Flexiwire was a new concept for me.  Like most breastfeeders, I avoid underwires in my bras, and am aware that they can potentially create blockages in my breasts, that can lead to mastitis.  However Hotmilk suggest that this risk is actually due to the fact that many women wear incorrectly fitted bras.  I was interested to read on the Hotmilk website, a quote from the Australian Breastfeeding Association:

“Many women prefer underwire fashion bras and are confused when told these are not recommended during pregnancy or lactation. The reason for this is, once again, your changing breast shape. When breastfeeding, the breasts can increase and decrease in size during the day, as milk is produced and removed. Retained fluid in late pregnancy can also cause the breast to swell. Although only a slight change in size is occurring, a rigid underwire may put pressure on the breast when it is fuller. Such pressure can lead to blocked milk ducts or mastitis and it is for this reason inflexible underwire brasare not recommended. However there are now nursing bras available that have a flexible metal support, similar to an underwire, designed to flex and change position with your changing shape. These are less likely to cause problems.”

This endorsement from the Australian Breastfeeding Association made me feel much more comfortable with the idea of flexiwire.

I received my bra about a day after Diana sent it to me – very impressive shipping time!  I was pretty excited to try this bra out.  Let me tell you about it:

  • Mine was black, with pink and orange trims.  You can also get it in blue with black and green trims
  • Unlike other breastfeeding sports bras I have tried (like Cadenshae Ultimate and Movemami Shine), Activate is a proper cupped bra, not a crop top.  As highlighted above, you should get properly fitted before buying one.  I am wearing a 14F.  The Activate can go as large as an H cup
  • The shoulder straps are good and wide, making me feel supported in the bust without causing discomfort on my shoulders
  • There is a clip on the back of the bra, that brings the two shoulder straps together for added support
  • The nursing clips are easy to undo with one hand
  • There are 6 hook and eye sets of clips on the back, making it easier to find the perfect fit around my back

I was nervous about the flexiwires because I haven’t really had any kind of wires near my boobs since before I fell pregnant with my son, over 6 years ago.  Truthfully, the first time I wore the bra, it was a bit uncomfortable, making me wonder if I may end up with a blockage.  In hindsight, I think the discomfort may have been due to the fact that the bra was quite stiff when I first got it out of the packaging.  After it was washed a few times, the fabric became softer.  I haven’t felt discomfort since the first time I wore the bra.  And I definitely haven’t had any blockages.

The Activate was extremely supportive, and I was very satisfied with how well it worked while I was skipping.  I took My Mr 5 trampolining at Gravity X this week.  I did up the clip on the back of the shoulder straps before jumping, for the extra support, and the bra worked so well that I actually forgot about my boobs.  Anyone with a bigger bust will be impressed with this, because when your boobs are bouncing around everywhere, it can be hard to think of anything else.

Like my joggers, I probably wouldn’t wear the Activate all day, every day.  It’s not designed for everyday wear, and Hotmilk have better options available for that (like my Show Off bra, for example).  I wore the Activate for high-impact exercise, like running, skipping and trampolining.  Those are activities that require a good shower and change of clothes afterwards, so it wasn’t a hassle to change bras too.

Yesterday, a friend of mine told me she couldn’t justify the cost of a breastfeeding sports bra – she said she planned to wait until she’d finished breastfeeding before she would get back into exercise.  But the Activate worked so well, I see no reason why I couldn’t continue using it even after my kids have weaned.

In the past I have said that the Cadenshae Ultimate was my absolute favourite breastfeeding sports bra.  I may have to go back to the drawing board on that opinion, because the Activate impressed the heck out of me!

Diana at Milkbar Breastpumps gifted me one Hotmilk Activate bra in exchange for my review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Do you have a breastfeeding sports bra?  Does it work well?

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Hotmilk Lingerie & My Show Off Silver Peony Review + Giveaway

Would you like to win one of 5 x $50 gift vouchers to spend at Hotmilk Lingerie?  Check out the end of the post to see how to enter!

Recently I was thrilled to join the Hotmilk Lingerie team as an ambassador at the Essential Baby & Toddler Show at Darling Harbour.  I got to hang out with the Hotmilk team, learn about their products and talk to some very excited ladies about boobs and bras.

My job for the day was to chat to people walking past, encourage them to enter our prize draw ($400 in Hotmilk products), let them know about our special expo offer, and encourage them to get measured up by our team.  I felt quite mindful about not hassling people out, because I don’t like feeling like people are trying to pressure me into a sale, but most people responded really positively.

Here are 5 things I learned about Hotmilk Lingerie that day:

  • The Hotmilk team are very knowledgeable about the changes our bodies go through during pregnancy.  The team cared much more about making sure women were aware of the dangers of blocked ducts and mastitis caused by ill-fitting bras than they were about making a quick sale
  • Anyone with a large bust would know how hard it is to find bras above a DD, let alone anything NICE!  Most Hotmilk bras go up to a H cup, with some even going up to a J cup!
  • The shoulder straps increase in width incrementally for each cup size you go up.  And thank goodness, because spaghetti straps weren’t made to support the weight of a large bust
  • Hotmilk make bras for smaller busts too.  I met with more than one lady at the Show who had been incorrectly told that you can’t buy maternity/nursing bras below a C cup.  Hotmilk bras start with an A cup
  • Hotmilk customers are fiercely loyal.  Many ladies walked into the stall, yanked a bra-strap out from under their collar and told me with a wink “I’m wearing one right now”.  These customers were singing their testimonials to anyone who would listen, insisting that Hotmilk was the only brand to buy

A common desire that kept coming up during the day is that women wanted supportive bras that didn’t look and feel like maternity bras – they wanted bras like the ones they used to wear before they got pregnant.

And then at the end of the day, I was absolutely THRILLED to be sent home with a “Show Off Silver Peony” nursing bra.  It was a long drive all the way from Darling Harbour back to my home in Maitland just to try that bra on!  Let me tell you about it.

  • It’s a soft, nude/bone colour with lace edging and some black details.
  • The F cup fits me perfectly, making me feel like this bra is true to it’s size
  • There are 6 hook and eye sets of clips on the back, making it easier to find the perfect fit around my back
  • It’s a smooth fit, and fits nicely under tight tops without funny lumps or weird looking lines created by the edging
  • I noticed the straps are thicker than I have come to expect, and they feel comfortable against my shoulders
  • The nursing clips are easy to undo with one hand
  • It’s extremely supportive for a bra that has no underwires and hasn’t been designed for sports and exercise
It’s a perfect fit
Miss 2 approves
Miss 2 approves

It’s beautiful – and makes me feel good about wearing it, but is also comfortable enough to wear all day – maybe even every day!

I was gifted the Show Off bra for the purpose of a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I was given a $100 gift voucher for the time I spent working with the Hotmilk Lingerie team at the Essential Baby & Toddler Show at Darling Harbour.

Would you like to win a $50 voucher to spend at Hotmilk Lingerie?  Join our closed support group on Facebook and search for “30k MEMBER MILESTONE” to enter!  Entries close Friday 6/10/17 at 8.30pm EDST


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“Facebook Punished Me For Trying To Help Breastfeeders” – Kerryn’s Story

Breastfeeders in Australia suffered a huge setback this week.  Kerryn Gill-Rich, one of our support group’s most active administrators and prolific commenters received a Facebook ban for sharing links to a Nipple Blanching (Vasospasm) article on the Kellymon website.  After repeatedly pleading for common sense from the Facebook team, her case has been closed.  It would appear Kerryn is now receiving a 1 week ban for each instance she has shared the link.  To see a gallery of the communication between Kerryn and Facebook, please click on this link.
It only takes a quick search on Facebook to find a flood of sexual and graphic content.  We will never understand why Facebook is so selective with the way they police comments and posts, or why they seem to be so bothered by breastfeeding.
With very little opportunity to take this further, Kerryn has written a letter to Facebook for us to publish.
“Dear Facebook,

I’m cross. You and I were onto something. You and I had a great thing going. You and I had helped 30,000 breastfeeding women to find success in nourishing their babies and reach their breastfeeding goals, however long that may have been. We have talked them through sleep deprivation, poonamis, and puke down their backs. We have shared our stories and cried with people that are standing on the edge of their threshold as a parent because things weren’t going to plan. Maybe their expectations weren’t realistic or maybe the well-meaning advice they had received wasn’t working or maybe they had too many nights in a row with no sleep, crying baby and burning nipples or many, many other reasons why those early days of parenting can see us crash and burn and feel like we are alone.

I’m a lactavist. I’m passionate about helping women that WANT to breastfeed. I don’t tie myself to trees or march in the street but I do make myself available to friends and family as well as perfect strangers that reach out for help….. UNTIL THIS WEEK.

Nipple blanching and vasospasm

I posted this article (above)in a response to a mum who was experiencing nipple pain when breastfeeding.  She had reached out in a BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT GROUP. She was about to give up due to the lack of help she was receiving. She didn’t know what was causing her pain and she didn’t know how to fix it. My advice was not unsolicited, it was factual and medically sound. It  directed her to relevant online as well as real world help. The offending article is written by an IBCLC qualified lactation consultant and has medical based information regarding vasospasms. It also contains 2 photos of a blanched nipple for reference.

I received a notification that this was not appropriate content for Facebook and was banned for a week as a result. This happened twice as I’ve shared the article more than once so I suspect there will be more bans in the pipeline. Yet, a quick search and I can find Karma Sutra positions with links to videos, topless beach babes with a poorly placed scribble across her nips, vibrators and many other pages with similar, sexual content. These are all still in place as of this morning. I can join these groups and buy these products and services. I can even link up with a group that do live sex both using Facebook live OR if they get in trouble for that, they advertise ‘plan B’ which is a whats app group… all with Facebook’s blessing. Yet I can’t link an article to help a mother feed her baby.

Breastfeeding is in no way whatsoever sexual. It is simply feeding a baby in the most natural way possible, yet breastfeeding information is not in line with community standards? What is it exactly that’s so offensive about breastfeeding? Given the amount of daily dinner plates that are posted on timelines, it can’t be the FEEDING part that is of concern! But using THAT theory, the amount of breasts in timelines probably beats the pants off the butter chicken or steak and potato plates posted….. so I’m stuck! Is it the baby? Nope, they feature pretty predominantly on timelines too!!


Yours in confusion and utter frustration
Kerryn Gill-Rich”

Many people from our breastfeeding community have expressed shock, confusion and disappointment at Kerryn’s situation.  Here are some direct quotes:

Tyler Enaj – I was also reported and photo deleted

Krystal Jane

The advice and support you give mothers is invaluable and I’m sure many other mothers can attest to that. To ban you for sharing breastfeeding specific information in a breastfeeding group is just absurd

Kristy Benson

This is so infuriating!!!
A man who is a body builder stole pictures of my children & posted them to his 40,000 followers and it DID NOT go against Facebooks community standards! What the heck is wrong with Facebook?!?!
  It’s really hard not to be a ranting feminist when it’s so clear the Facebook is ran by misogynists and the patriarchy is cool with women being naked as long as we are giving sexual satisfaction to men.  Over 200 people reported my issues (pictures of my children, my name and location) but that didn’t even matter.

Facebook claim to support breastfeeding, but actions speak louder than words.  Have you ever had a breastfeeding photo reported or taken down? 



Posted on

My Extended Family – Sometimes Support Looks Different

I’ve talked lots of times about how thankful I am for growing up in a family where breastfeeding is completely normal.  My husband’s family isn’t like that.  They aren’t “against” breastfeeding, like some families are, and they have never tried to convince me to stop, for any reason.  I think they are probably like a lot of families in Australia – they know breastfeeding to be the normal way to feed babies, and they have seen the campaigns telling everyone why it’s important, but they are still wrapping their heads around because they didn’t grow up around it.

They sometimes don’t know which way to look when I’m breastfeeding, especially as my kids have grown out of babyhood and into toddlers, but they don’t say anything – they know their feelings are their issue and don’t expect me to stop on their account.  They sometimes ask questions about how it all works.  Sometimes they make inappropriate jokes, which can be a bit squirmish for me, but I don’t take it as a sign of disrespect, it’s just their way of getting used to the idea.  Sometimes they tag me in every single breastfeeding thing they see on Facebook too.  Sometimes I’ll be tagged in the same thing twenty times after I’ve already seen it in every single group I’m in, but ultimately I appreciate the effort everyone goes to, to find common ground with me.

Soon after my son turned 3, breastfeeds became something that we don’t do out of our home, and soon after that they were something that only happened in bed, either before or after sleeping.  So while I have never lied to anyone, it would be understandable for any family members who don’t read my blog (most don’t), to assume Mr 5 finished breastfeeding a year or two ago.

A few weeks ago at a family barbecue, everyone was feeling pretty merry after a big dinner and a few drinks.  A family friend told a story of the horror and disgust he felt when he found out a bartender at a nightclub was still breastfeeding her 6 year old.  I looked for my kids, preparing to swoop them out of earshot if these comments turned into a boisterous conversation.  Mr 5 is extremely perceptive, and he would have felt great shame to hear someone talking about term breastfeeding that way.  I’m a pretty assertive person and don’t usually shy away from expressing my opinion, but I never considered engaging in a conversation or argument in this situation, purely for the protection of my kids.  My husband must feel the same because he didn’t say anything either.  I almost held my breath and shut my eyes, waiting to see the reaction from my inlaws.

A few of them suddenly found the grain of our wooden table very interesting.  Someone found a spiderweb in the corner of the ceiling to stare at.  I actually saw one or two rolled eyes.  After an awkward silence, one of my husband’s brothers very obviously changed the subject.

And that was that!

Some people might have felt the silence was a lack of support, but I feel the opposite.

What we say matters, but sometimes what we don’t say matters more.  I don’t know if my inlaws support the idea of term breastfeeding or not, but their unwillingness to get involved in a discussion shaming a mother and child for it while my kids and I were present means the world to me.  Sometimes support is loud and vocal, with lots of praise heaped on top.  And sometimes it’s a quiet nod in your direction, acceptance that you (you with the awesome kids, who are probably awesome because of the way you raise them) deserve space to do what you do when it’s working for you.

Sometimes the biggest hurdle to finding support from your extended family is understanding that although they don’t support you the way you expect or even the way you want, they probably still care about you in their own way.

I love and appreciate my extended family very much, and I’m blessed to feel like they love me too.