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From your friends at Enfamil.

Anyone else seen those tweets about Robeez? The ones about how their blogher10 gift bags had formula in them?

Bleh.

The whole thing just rubs me wrong.

It reminds me of when I was pregnant with Cooper.

I went for my six month check up at my ob/gyn’s office  (next time I’ll use a midwife, but that is another story for another time) and I was told by the receptionist upon check in that I had won.

“Won what?” I asked.

“A prize! In our raffle! Congratulations!” She replied.

My pregnant mother of three and a half brain didn’t work that quickly. If I had been sharper perhaps I would have remembered never having entered a raffle.  But then she presented me with a brand new boppy- it had a sage green microfiber cover.  I was in LOVE.  I had always wanted to try a boppy for nursing, so I took my “prize” home.

It was only later, after looking at the card that I realized my gift was tainted.

The card said “Congratulations on your new baby! From, your friends at Enfamil.”

It makes me wonder.  Am I on some kind of list?  Would I have won this if I hadn’t been nursing? Or is it a marketing ploy geared to get me to use Enfamil.  I’m sure that my doctors office has in my file that I am a breastfeeding mother.  I’ve breastfed all of my babies, and have been using that office since I was first pregnant with Patrick.   I am embarrassed to admit here that I kept the boppy.  I probably should have returned it and told them how wrong it was to give it to me in the first place.

This is very clear to me now- because the last time I was at my doctor’s office I saw this:

This was a gift basket giveaway I saw displayed at my ob/gyn’s office.

I’m going to write them a letter and print off a copy of WHO code regarding marketing of breastfeeding substitutes.  SO not cool.  I feel like this might make me a hypocrite, since I have accepted a gift from a formula company myself, but someone needs to say something about what they are doing.

This was taken from about.com:

The International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes is an “international public health recommendation to regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes.” It was developed and voted on by the World Health Assembly in 1981, with the United States being the only “no” vote. Thirteen years later, the United States changed their “no” to a “yes” in the Innocenti Declaration. Here are some of the highlights:

Scope of the Code

The Code applies to the marketing, and practices related thereto, of the following products: breastmilk substitutes, including infant formula; other milk products, foods and beverages, including bottle-fed complementary foods, when marketed or otherwise represented to be suitable, with or without modification, for use as a partial or total replacement of breastmilk; feeding bottles and teats.

Article 5. The General Public and Mothers

  • There should be no advertising or promotion to the general public of products within the scope of the Code
  • No samples may be given to mothers
  • There should be no point-of-sale advertising
  • There should be no gifts of articles or utensils given to pregnant women or mothers of infants and young children

16 Responses to From your friends at Enfamil.

  1. I don’t think you were wrong to not return the Boppy. Take the bastards gift so they have that much less money to use for there nefarious purposes!

  2. It’s the “Strong Mommy club” that really bugs me. Strong in what way? Strong enough to withstand all those nasty breastfeeding nazis? I’m afraid that’s what it makes me think…

  3. What if instead of having the basket out for all to see, maybe they only offered it/or gave the chance to win it to mommy’s that were 100% sure they were going to formula feed?

    I am confused about the WHO code, does it state that NO advertising of formula is allowed? If so that seems a little unfair to the companies that are really just trying to make money! Or is it more of a they need to change the way they advertise… i.e. not giving free samples to mommy’s who are considering BF’ing

    • Mandy, it can be confusing to get to know the WHO code, but 30 years ago when it was written at the United Nations, with the input of Great Americans like Ted Kennedy, there was much debate about any and or all issues dealing with formula use and marketing. After several years of research and careful consideration it was crafted and passed by the U.N. Since then, many countries have adopted it and some have even enforced all of it’s provisions(including a ban on marketing). Some have gone so far as to require a doctor’s prescription in order to access formula. Many have required formula to have warning labels on it much like cigarettes do. In fact, the controls on formula marketing within the code are similar to the controls placed on cigarette marketing and for very good reason. Both are products that have been marketed by the medical establishment. Both are products that gained market dominance by handing out free samples at doctor’s offices. YES, once upon a time, not that long ago, Doctors would tell Moms, “feeling stressed out? here, have a free pack of cigarettes, these will help!” I’m sure you can see why that would be bad! Over time, more and more health and social justice field workers came to see that formula marketing was just as bad as tobacco marketing and the Code was created.

      The countries that have implemented the most WHO code regulations are the countries that have the highest rates of breastfeeding. Those with some implementations have slightly higher rates than those who have implemented none and those with no implementation have the lowest rates of breastfeeding by every measure. Clearly, these well-thought out provisions work.

      Formula Feeding is not a lifestyle choice anymore than cigarette smoking is a lifestyle choice. People do not choose to smoke cigarettes when they are not surrounded by smokers and tobacco marketing. Women do not choose formula feeding when they have never seen it used and never been exposed to formula marketing. Yes, as a medical intervention it has it’s place. It was originally invented to keep a baby alive, if it’s mother died, until a wetnurse could be secured. In serious circumstances it is better than nothing, but it is never better than breastmilk. However formula marketing convinced generations of women that their milk was inferior in the face of “scientific advancement”. Women believed these lies and the formula industry was able to start raking in the profits.

      It’s as if generations of Mothers were convinced that since wheelchairs are a scientific advancement, we should strap all 9 month old kids into them so that they can use wheelchairs rather than learn to walk. We would then have millions of kids with withered legs, dependant on their chairs to get around but “just fine” really! Don’t guilt their Moms because they grew up in wheelchairs too and they were unable to walk! And some kids NEED wheelchairs you know! How would we feel about free wheelchair samples in every doctors office? Ads saying “our chairs are improved, with new support features! they prevent your kids from running in the road. you know exactly how many miles your child has travelled at all times so you know they’re getting exercise. come in cute new patterns! Walking is best, but really, who has time to teach a kid to walk! It’s hard and painful. People will see your child falling everywhere unless you’re discreet and use a walking cover. When you choose not to walk, choose the chair that’s better than walking, Enfachair!

      The WHO code (and the new WHO medical education curriculum and textbooks for doctor and nurse training) is about us finally stopping this kind of insanity and treating formula the way it SHOULD be treated. As a medical intervention used only when a medical specialist trained in normal lactation decides that it is medically necessary. Not a decision made because a doctor takes a kickback from a formula company (just like they used to get from the cigarette companies) to say: “feeling stressed out? here, have a free pack of formula, it will help!”

      • Thanks for the great detailed reply! It defiantly help with the understanding of the WHO code and where exactly they were coming from in writing it!

        The only concern I see is that if US formula companies were forced to put warning labels on their product, I think it might actually scare new mommy’s that for whatever reason were not breastfeeding in to doing something drastic like giving their babies regular cow’s milk!! I mean I am sure that would be the extreme (and hopefully very uncommon) circumstance regrading that!

  4. @Mandy, Interesting idea but I see a few faults in it. Giving away ABM increases the costs of ABM to families who medically need it.

    If more women didn’t have access to ABM before birth and shortly afterwards, they’d be more willing to try to breastfeed, so giving it to women who want it only doesn’t increase the rates of breastfeeding enough.

    Dr.’s should be promoting breastfeeding. The packs should be for breastfeeding support supplies only. When an ABM company has ‘freebies’ in a medical establishment, the faculty/doctor is getting paid compensation for using their name. Dr.’s are in high competion amoung ABM companies to get their product in display and will pay highly for it. Again, if they weren’t paying highly for this advertisment then the costs of formula would be lower for families in medical need.

    I urge you to read the WHO code, and become familiar with why it has been set. Breastfeeding pairs that medically need ABM will seek it out, we all know it exists.

    I’m not expert and others will know more, but I thought I’d share a bit.

    • That is true! I am sure the families that use the formula would appreciate a price cut!!

      When my first baby was 3 months old I had a week long hospital stay due to gallbladder infection, and we were completely unprepared!! My Dr’s told me that I needed to stop BF’ing because the antibiotics and pain killers I was on would not be good for the baby (which I later found out was probable not true! But that is another story!)

      Well I was a very young and new mommy and knew nothing about breastfeeding and antibiotics so of course did what they said, and I think a weeks worth of formula for my little guy was like $40! Boy was I happy to stop that when I got out!

  5. I am one of those mothers who for medical reasons couldn’t breastfeed my son. I found all the different formulas confussing and expensive is not even close to right because my son required special formula because of reflux. His formula was the most expensive there is without a prescription but I am glad I was able to get it. I actually had to have a script for WIC to help with buying the formula. I actually did breastfeed my older children and researched carefully if I could with the medications I now require to keep living but found that the risks to my son’s health were far outweighing the benefits he would have gotten. I take chemotherapy based drugs daily. I think that OB-GYNs should not be the ones to offer formula samples and such I think it should be pediatricians if samples are offered at all. Samples are actually a bad idea in any case unless you plan to give a whole can or two so the family can see if the formula is actually tolerated. I will always feel guilty that I couldn’t breastfeed my son but I also know that had he been breastfed that it would have taken longer to diagnose his reflux and get it treated and that could have been fatal it was so bad. I think that warning labels might not be a bad idea so long as they don’t cause a panic and that advertising is a nasty way to get formula sold because it does make women think their milk isn’t good enough. Yet look at the newest changes to formula and you will see they are trying very hard to make it more and more like breastmilk. Ironic isn’t it?

  6. Cigarettes have lables because they are much more dangerous than not smoking, and thus so should formula.

    Right now there is so much false information about ABM that women are making dangerous choices for their children, when it isn’t medically indicated. I do not understand the logic of sheltering the truth to avoid scaring families.

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