Why Can't You Sell A Breast Pump On Facebook?

Parents are getting creative to get around the ban.
Women in Canada and around the world report that their Facebook posts selling breast pumps have been banned.
Women in Canada and around the world report that their Facebook posts selling breast pumps have been banned.

Trying to sell a used breast pump on Facebook?

You might have better luck listing a “liquid gold extractor.”

Moms across Facebook have been forced to get creative after they say their breast pump posts have been repeatedly banned. It’s a topic that comes up often in buy/sell groups, Marketplace, help forums, and in parenting pages, with confused and frustrated parents wondering why they can’t list their pricey pumps for resale.

In fact, when HuffPost Canada put out a callout in just one Canadian Facebook parenting group, more than a dozen responded saying that they tried to sell their used breast pumps on Facebook but had their posts banned.

Considering a high-end, double-electric pump retails for around $400, many people are either looking to sell theirs once they’re done with it to recoup some of the cost, or help out a family in need.

“I tried to use a number of different titles for my post to remove the word ‘breast’ or ‘pump’ but they were all banned,” a Vancouver mom of a four-year-old and 18-month-old told HuffPost Canada.

WATCH: The best breast pumps of 2019. Story continues below.

“I took out the brand name ... no go. I tried spaces in the title and then just saying ‘pump’. The last one I titled ‘That Which Cannot Be Named’. Still got rejected,” another mom of a three-year-old from Squamish, B.C. told HuffPost Canada.

Both women say they weren’t given a clear reason why their posts were banned. HuffPost Canada agreed to keep their identities anonymous, because, as it turns out, there is a reason Facebook banned their posts— it’s just not widely known.

Breast pumps are considered medical devices

A Facebook spokesperson told HuffPost Canada that breast pumps are considered a medical device and therefore go against their health care policy.

Those policies apply to all posts on Marketplace, Buy and Sell Groups, Shop Sections on Pages, and Instagram Shopping product posts, the spokesperson added. All posts must comply with their community standards and commerce policies and may not allow the sale of certain health-care products and services, including breast pumps.

The problem, though, is that the policy doesn’t specifically mention breast pumps.

According to their community standards, Facebook explicitly prohibits the sale of firearms, drugs, human organs, blood, live animals, and endangered species (and their parts). Their commerce policy prohibits the sale of drugs, tobacco products, unsafe supplements, firearms, ammunition, explosives, animals, adult products and services, alcohol, real-money gambling services, and health care products.

Within their health-care products section, Facebook does specify that medical devices are prohibited, but lists contact lenses, bandages and braces for physical injuries, thermometers, testing kits for medical conditions or diseases, and first-aid kits as examples.

Health Canada prohibits their sale online, too

Breast pumps are classified as Class II devices under the Medical Device Regulations, Health Canada spokesperson Andre Gagnon told HuffPost Canada in an emailed statement.

And anyone looking to sell or re-sell one, including online, needs a medical device establishment license and a valid medical device license. That’s not exactly a credential the average parent has in their arsenal.

“While breast milk pumps are widely used in Canada, they are considered medical devices and must be treated and used with care,” Gagnon said.

“In addition, human milk is a bodily fluid and can transmit substances, such as prescription and non-prescription drugs, and can be contaminated with viruses such as HIV. Human milk can also spoil or become contaminated with bacteria or viruses as a result of improper milk extraction, storage or handling.”

Health Canada also discourages online breast milk donations, and previously told HuffPost Canada selling breast milk online is illegal.

For sale: breast pump. No? OK. For sale: baby-feeding pump. Still no? For sale: feeding system. OMG WHY?!
For sale: breast pump. No? OK. For sale: baby-feeding pump. Still no? For sale: feeding system. OMG WHY?!

But this information isn’t widely known, and most moms who have their breast pump posts banned on Facebook say they weren’t given a clear reason why. Some were directed to Facebook’s commerce policies, which don’t mention breast pumps.

This means moms keep trying to post their pumps to increasing experiences of confusion and frustration, often assuming their post was somehow offensive.

“There was no explanation about why I was banned from selling the pump,” the Vancouver mom told HuffPost Canada.

“No reason given except to go and look up their policies. No reference to what policy it was violating,” the Squamish mom added.

“I’m trying to sell my breast pump but marketplace keeps saying that my ad goes against their policies. After reading the guidelines, I don’t know what policy it goes against,” another mom wrote in a Facebook help forum.

A post from an Ottawa mom who asked to remain anonymous.
A post from an Ottawa mom who asked to remain anonymous.

Some women say they were able to post their breast pumps by using more creative terms like “liquid gold extractor,” “human milker,” and “baby milk maker.” Others say they were able to get around the ban by simply listing “baby items,” then posting a photo of the breast pump in the comments.

Both moms HuffPost Canada spoke with said trying to offload their breast pumps was an incredibly frustrating experience.

In the end, the Vancouver mom— who was always just trying to give hers away for free— handed hers over to a pregnant woman who was picking up some other used baby items from her house.

“Pumps are expensive and I wanted to give this one away but Facebook didn’t make it easy,” she said.

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