Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Why All the Breastfeeding Posts?

Somedays I feel like my Facebook wall is a never ending stream of information about breastfeeding and other parenting topics I strongly believe in. I'm sure there are more than one of the "friends" on my list of 547 (yuck... should do some weeding) that think I'm completely insane and off the deep end. Every once in a while someone pipes in asking me questions about why I post so much. The long answer... if you aren't in the breastfeeding/parenting world yet you probably have no idea what we are up against as far as tricky evil corporations that want to make money.

Here are a few recent examples;

A new mom was sent a "things you need to know for after the baby is here" packet from a formula company that told her "your milk might not come in for a few days, consider using formula". HUH??? The baby is getting full on colostrum until your milk comes in, their tummy is the size of a chickpea and colostrum is perfectly designed to get the baby off to a good start. Not to mention that by having the baby suckle they are stimulating milk production to start. If the baby is getting a bottle instead, the whole process is interrupted. This type of advertising is harmful and should be illegal. In other countries it actually IS illegal to advertise formula for babies under 6 months old.

Whether from your Midwife/OB office or hospital... just about every new mom gets sent home with a "free travel bag" that is from various formula companies. It is stocked full of coupons, free samples, and other "helpful" information. I received a "strong moms" planner for my most recent pregnancy. It is sponsored by Similac formula and made mention I should "make sure to get your free Similac travel bag." What's so wrong about offering a new mom a bag? Nothing if its filled with things to encourage that breastfeeding relationship. But instead they are filled with doubt and fear.

Pregnant/new mom's name and address are sometimes sold by maternity clothing stores and even the hospital newborn photographer to formula companies. Your home will be bombarded with free samples and coupons. I've even heard of their being a door-to-door in person sales representative who dropped off a case of free formula to a mother with a newborn and the note said "You deserve a break." How wicked and evil is that? Any new parent knows that first week is rough. Baby is awake often, feeding often, and you are adjusting to the whole new lifestyle. In a tired, exhausted, baby blues kind of a moment... it would be easy to just ask your significant other to give the baby a bottle "just this once" so you can have a break. It's a slippery slope folks.

Reportedly, if you fill out the Motherhood Maternity information card and say you are formula feeding you will get almost nothing... but if you say you are breastfeeding you will receive a ton of free formula samples/coupons. They are TARGETING breastfeeding mamas.

Last week I received a coupon book from Babies R Us. In it outlined how they are having a breastfeeding 101 class on May 10th sponsored by Medela pumps. In that same book BRU is offering a shiny $10 free giftcard... if you purchase formula. Now, wouldn't it have been much more breastfeeding friendly to offer a giftcard from the purchase of a breastpump or breastfeeding pillow? Reportedly from a former BRU employee they do give away formula coupons in a giftbag for the actual breastfeeding 101 class. Deplorable.

I have folded the coupon book for the purpose of the photo - they were on opposite sides of the booklet.

Pediatricians sometimes are quick to push formula at the sign of any little trouble. Not enough weight gain (a strictly breastfeeding mother should be aware that the chart most pediatricians use has a mix of formula fed and breastfeeding baby's weight/height growth on it and typically BF baby's are slower to gain - therefore should not be compared on the FF/BF chart), gassy/fussy baby, colic, reflux, etc. I was even offered formula when I complained that my baby would not take a bottle.

All of this is a little disturbing, right? Is it true? Am I just a crazy conspiracy theorist dirty breastfeeding hippie freak? I have no idea... but... the stories come up often enough in mothering forums so I have to believe there is a ring of truth to it.

If you have to or chose to use formula, I'm certainly glad it is available for your baby... but there are far too many moms out there that want to breastfed, but end up failing when they fall for a booby trap. I'm fed up with these moms being set up for failure by tricky advertising and corrupt medical providers. The breastfeeding rates in our country are embarrassing, and they don't need to be. In reality there are only about 1% of moms who truly cannot breastfeed. That'd be the WHOLE WORLD. Bet you thought the number was much higher...

So, why do I post so much stuff? It's not because I enjoy sounding like a broken record. It's because I never want to hear anyone in my little circle say "I wish someone would have told me." It's easy to trust the world out there and be a sheeple... but when someone opens your eyes that not everyone is on your side, you might just notice a few unjust things and make better choices because you are aware. That's why I post so much.


  1. You missed one. Before my 3rd baby was born I splurged on some new nursing bras and tanks...and I got a formula coupon!! Everytime I make a baby purchase at Target I get a formula coupon.

  2. Ugh - I received this same packet and I had a homebirth! How do the formula companies even find you? It's so infuriating! Luckily we have a great pedi who is super pro breastfeeding, but I can see how someone who was not dead set on nursing like I was to be tricked into using formula by this crap and misinformation.

  3. Great post! Even BF-friendly hospitals unknowingly set their patients up for failure when it comes to BFing...the night my baby was born (11PM)the nurse kept trying to convince me to give her donated breast milk to appease her b/c she had such a strong urge to suck and was crying a lot. Luckily, I had done my homework and knew that babies don't really need full milk right after birth and that the incessant nursing those first few days are super important for establishing milk supply. The nurses, who meant well, had no idea of these implications. These health professionals should have to go through lactation training!

  4. Thank you for your post. What you say is true. Almost thirteen years ago, I gave birth to my first daughter. I do not remember (nor believe I knew) five women who breastfed. As a pregnant teacher, I naively thought, "I am a mammal. I will make milk. How hard can it be?" I did attend breastfeeding classes (which were informational and a little scary) and read books. Thankfully, I contacted LLL which had a coupon on a packet I received in the hospital after birth. They answered so many of my questions and supported me through several breast feeding issues (green poop, teething, mastitis, etc.).
    Thank you for informing people and being there for them with their questions, one by one, you are changing the breastfeeding world for the better.