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Thursday
Oct282010

A booby-trapped breastfeeding prize

I love when great bloggers guest post for me. Today, I have a wonderful guest poster, Jill from Baby Rabies, with a post that I wish she didn't have to write and that I didn't have to share, because I wish that ridiculous things like this didn't happen. Please read Jill's story about the prize her friend Laura got for breastfeeding.

My friend Laura is one of the smartest people I know, and we’re not just talking book smart (though there are many letters behind her name to reflect the advanced degrees she’s obtained). She’s proactive and involved. She educates herself and never accepts the status quo.

She approached her recent pregnancy with the same drive to research and learn everything she could to keep herself and her baby as healthy as possible, and to set themselves up for a lifetime of healthy habits. Naturally, she was, from the very beginning, determined to make breastfeeding work.

She asked me and other friends who breastfed our children many questions, she made it clear to her OB and her other friends and family that she expected support, and she took a breastfeeding class. Her birth plan revolved around ultimately having a safe and healthy baby who would have as few obstacles to overcome while learning to breastfeed.

So far, he’s been a breastfeeding champ and so has she. Her son just turned a month old, and though they’ve been through your typical breastfeeding trials, like a delay in her milk coming in and the exhaustion that cluster feeding can bring on, they’ve worked through them all, and Laura is always happy to report that they are still going strong on the Exclusive Breastfeeding Train.

It was with this enthusiasm that she answered the lab technician at her son’s 4 week checkup last week when asked if she was formula feeding, breastfeeding or both. After she told the lab tech that she was still exclusively breastfeeding, the lab tech lit up, congratulated her and told her she got a prize.

I learned of this last Friday as we caught up over the phone. As soon as she mentioned the “breastfeeding prize pack,” my attention peaked. What on earth could they be rewarding breastfeeding mothers with? Maybe a gift certificate to a local boutique that sells nursing bras? A nice tube of nipple cream? How cool! I was intrigued and asked her what it was. The minute she started describing it, my mouth fell open…

“I got this really cute, sporty black diaper bag full of all kinds of stuff. There were Nuk bottle nipples, some breastfeeding pamphlets that look to be full of lots of information, and, oddly enough, a huge can of formula. I mean, I won’t use that… no clue why that’s in there, but the rest seems cool. Can’t believe I got a prize!” she giddily reported.

“Laura, do you remember what brand of formula it was?” I asked.

“Oh, sure. It was Good Start, I think,” she replied.

Of course it was.

It was at that moment that I had to explain Booby Traps to my best friend, and I had to let her know that she had been handed one of the worst Booby Traps I’d ever heard of- a Nestle/Gerber sponsored diaper bag filled with formula, disguised as a “prize” for a mother who has busted her ass to exclusively BREASTFEED her son for the past 4 weeks.

Laura lives in Austin, one of the most breastfeeding friendly cities I’ve ever been in. Her OB’s office was, what she would call, “super crunchy.” She never received a formula welcome kit throughout her pregnancy. She wasn’t even sent home with one from her hospital. I can’t fault her a bit for not knowing what one looked like when her son’s pediatrician’s office handed this to her.

Upon learning the truth about her “prize,” she expressed to me that she was “embarrassed.” She prides herself on seeing through these sorts of tactics. She refuses dinner with, and other incentives from, pharmaceutical reps at her place of work on a regular basis because she’s disgusted by the high price of drugs and the money spent by pharma companies to woo medical professionals.

“That’s the thing, Laura. It’s not YOUR fault. YOU shouldn’t be embarrassed. Nestle is very sneaky in their marketing. Booby Traps are tricky that way.” I continued to explain to her a little bit about what I’ve learned about formula companies’ questionable marketing tactics. I talked to her about the Nestle Boycott.  Then I explained how there’s no such thing as free formula.

“So they ARE just like the pharma companies, huh?” she muttered during her “aha!” moment. I just silently nodded on the other end of the phone.

She was more than happy to describe to me in detail what all was included in this “prize.” Her diaper bag includes the following:

  • A “Start Healthy Stay Healthy” branded changing pad

  • A Gerber bib

  • A Nuk bottle nipple

  • A “big” can of Good Start formula

  • Various coupons for Gerber products and a photo session at Sears


It also includes several pamphlets of information. The back of each one lists a 1-800 number for a line staffed by “registered dieticians” to discuss “breastfeeding and infant nutrition.” The main number is 1-800-811-7500, the Spanish number is 1-800-511-6862. The website given on the back is www.gerber.com.

The pamphlets are titled “Breastfeeding Basics,” “Gerber Generation Health Record,” and “Gerber Generation Nutrition Guide.”

I didn’t have time to discuss the content of each one with her, but we did go through the last one, “Gerber Generation Nutrition Guide,” pretty thoroughly because I was interested to see when they suggested parents begin babies on solids. This pamphlet is dedicated to discussing feeding “stages,” though they don’t break down the stages by assigning an actual age to each one. Instead, they break them down into Birth, Supported Sitter, Sitter, Crawler and Toddler.

The first mention of introducing solids (rice cereal) is made in the Supported Sitter section, specifically stating, “by around the middle of the first year almost all babies can start solid foods…Breastfed babies need certain nutrients from food to compliment breastmilk, such as iron and zinc. These nutrients can be found in fortified infant cereal. Zinc can also be found in pureed meats.”

There is also a handy chart in this section titled, “Transitioning From Breastmilk To Formula,” and breaks it down, eliminating a nursing session and adding a bottle of formula each day over a course of 14 days.

In the Sitter section there is an interesting bit about nursing strikes, titled “If Your Baby Loses Interest In Breastfeeding.” It states, “It may be weaning time if your repeated efforts to get your baby re-interested in breastfeeding don’t succeed. It may be that she’s ready to give up nursing.”

In the Crawler section breastfeeding isn’t even mentioned except on the food groups chart where it recommends 24 oz of breastmilk or formula a day or on demand. It goes on to also recommend 1 oz at 2 times a day of grains and cereal, 1/2cup of veggies, ½ cup of fruit and 1 oz of meat or beans.

Throughout the entire pamphlet there is a lot of emphasis put on the importance of iron, and it states over and over that iron can be found in their formula and iron fortified cereals.  Laura even remarked, “As an uniformed consumer of formula, and all around new parent, the impression I get is they are really trying to push the extra iron in their foods and formulas, and make me feel like breastfeeding won’t provide enough (iron).”

I guess I can’t say I’m surprised, but I sure am disheartened to see something so blatantly underhanded given to a good friend who is doing everything in her power to ensure her own breastfeeding success. I’m glad we had the chance to chat while her little boy was nursing. I’m glad I had the opportunity to tell her all about Booby Traps. And though she may have felt a little embarrassed at first, she is empowered and informed now. She’s even taking the Nestle Boycott to heart and anxious to learn more about it… when she comes up for air (a.k.a. when her son starts sleeping more than 3 hour stretches).

Jill is mother to a 2 year old with another on the way. She spends much of her time making fun of herself and making light of life over on BabyRabies.com, but she's serious when it comes to protecting women's rights to be informed and supported when it comes to breastfeeding.
« Healthy Processed Foods (they do exist!) | Main | Questions for the #noNestle Boycotters: My Response »

Reader Comments (84)

A chart for transitioning from breastmilk to formula?! What the heck? Why? How? *jaw drop* I don't even know what to say. That's just so... ARG!

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTopHat

Wow... I'd be so angry.
It sounds similar to the one I received at the hospital when my son was born just 6 months ago. It even has a hangtag with the Breastfeeding Symbol pictured above.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarahBee

I hope the friend says something to peds. office. They should be ashamed.

I now feel lucky that my daughter's ped. is so supportive. His wife is a lactation consultant (a very good one) and donates a lot time to new mamas. When I asked about the WHO growth charts, he said he hadn't switched yet, but that it wasn't a big deal. All of his kids were breastfed, and he's seen enough breastfed kids to know that weight gain can be erratic from baby to baby.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

Let me point out that Nuk and Gerber, of course, are owned by Nestle, and Picture People who does Sears, Wal-Mart and even some Babies/Toys R Us portraits even give out "Gerber Grow Up Plan" pamphlets with every picture order. So every single thing in there is Nestle. Grr.

I hope she gets on board with BantheBags.org and understands it now too.

Their pamphlet irritates the crap out of me. Babies don't LOSE INTEREST in nursing at 5, 8, 10 months... historically speaking, they'd die if they did. Ridiculous.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristie Haskell

Wow. That is the prize for breastfeeding. Wow.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

*head desk* This is asinine. I can't believe a pediatrician's office would give FORMULA as a REWARD for BREASTFEEDING.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarcy

I guess I don't understand because I've never been through this - how is this different than other product samples you get for free? Don't throw things; I just don't understand.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

Outrageous!!!! I can barely contain my absolute disgust. They are *lying* to women.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUmm Yasmin

The fight for a larger market share is not about converting mothers from one brand to another. Mothers who plan to formula feed from birth go with what their peers or family recommend who in turn are very brand loyal. The fight to expand market share is about capturing/converting breastfeeding mothers. Their minds are not yet made up. It makes perfect marketing sense to hand that tin of formula and bottle to a breastfeeding mother.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterY. Forster

I didn't get anything like this in the hosptial. It felt very pro-breastfeeding to me and there was NO WAY I was going to let anything get in the way of breastfeeding, so maybe they didn't even try. But I DID get two cans of formula, one iron fortified, one not, in the mail about a week before I delivered. I had signed up for free baby magazines and such. I was tortured as to what to do with it, it felt so wasteful to throw it out and dangerous to keep it around., but finally just tossed it in the dumpster. I figured if I HAD to use formula, I was going to research and choose a formula I trusted, not take the "free" one. My baby is still nursing at nearly 21 months, is very healthy, and has NEVER received A SINGLE DROP of formula. I am so thankful for those early marathon nursing sessions, for getting help from every lactation consultant within shouting distance, and my wonderful, supportive midwife helping me when my milk came in with cabbage leaves and homeopathics to cure my engorgement within a few hours. Then it was me and youtube videos working on a better and better latch, until, at two months, there was no more discomfort or pain at all in nursing. We've dealt with a plugged duct or two and such, but over all it's just been such a wonderful experience. I hope ALL of my nursing relationships are so blessed. I'm so glad I tossed that formula in the trash!

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I got a bag of free stuff from my pediatrician, but they actually pulled out the can of formula to save for a mom who would use it before giving to me since they knew I was adamantly solely breastfeeding.

Of course, their attitude towards breastfeeding is one of the reasons I chose that practice. And on the plus side, there were some fun, non-feeding related items in there. We go a pacifier and a bath towel out of it at least. I never read the reading material though. What you described is so obviously incorrect!

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeia

I'm a little torn on this one. I can absolutely agree that it's a bit of a sleazy marketing ploy, and that breastfeeding mothers need all the help they can get in this country, where nursing is practically a lost art.

However, all that being said, I also feel like it's the consumer's job to educate themselves and that a bag of free stuff isn't making any parenting decisions for you.

Personally, I enjoyed the bags of free stuff. I donated the cans of formula to food banks, and filled the bottles and bags with my breastmilk, and enjoyed coupons for baby goods. My daughter had only breastmilk until she was a year old, and at 18 months, she continues to nurse vigorously, although (thank goodness) I've been able to put away the pump and supplement with cow's milk while we're apart.

As an informed consumer, I welcomed their attempts to convert me by giving me free swag, and still decided to do what was best for my baby. You can't blame a business for trying to gain customers, really. They are encouraging use of their product, of course, but I'm the mom and the decision is mine. Unless they're flat out lying about something, I can't really fault them for trying to persuade moms. The doctors handing them out, of course, should be very clear that these are marketing materials and that questions about what is truly necessary for the baby should be directed to them, and not to a marketing pamphlet.

Of course, there are other reasons for the Nestle boycott, so I will not go into all that, but I don't feel that the bags are necessarily the worst thing in the world. First and foremost, we mamas need to educate ourselves and each other so we can make the best decisions for our little ones.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Ali

THAT IS BANANA PANTS CRAZY.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercarina

Ooh, I'd be steamed by getting that kind of "prize" too! I've breastfed all of my babies, the two oldest to about 18 months, the youngest is still going strong at 21 months. To be sabotaged so early is infuriating.

That said, I got the usual diaper bag full of formula garbage from my OB before giving birth. I use the bag. The rest I disposed of.

Shocked - that's all I can say. I can't believe her pediatrician would stoop to such a level and I can't believe Gerber gets away with this crap!

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJudy @ MommyNewsBlog

I was pleasantly surprised that we entirely avoided the formula gift bag, though we got all sorts of Enfamil samples from shopping at Motherhood Maternity. We were on WIC until this year and their idea of a breastfeeding prize is food for mama, and three times as much jarred foods once solids start.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh

Well...can't say I'm shocked. I got the same kind of bag when I left the hospital...a breastfeeding bag full of formula. Now here's my question...why am I still getting formula in the mail? My child is almost 2...it's from Similac. I swear they send me this quarterly. I've been donating it to our church baby pantry...but should I be throwing it away instead?

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

This practice is all too common here in Chicago. Even the placards inside the porta-cribs were sponsored by some damn formula company...Nestle's being the front runner.

This post was infuriating. After my first child, I did get a real prize for breastfeeding in the hospital from the LC. A gorgeous nursing cover. The LC told me that many moms who had c sections go straight to formula b/c of their recovery time.

I am proud that both my boys were nursed well past a year, and were never given a drop of formula. My youngest is starting to lose interest now at 15 months...I hope I can get him back into it... Despite the heinous recovery from both births, I pushed thru it, because in the end, it was what is best for mom and baby.

The ingredients in formula alone make me sick...

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMomnivore's Dilemma

Judy, the Pediatricians stoop to that level because they get absolutely NO breastfeeding instruction of any kind in medical school. All of their knowledge comes for self-study or their own experience. What they do get, though, is a constant barrage of advise, gifts, and savvy marketing ploys from formula reps. I'll bet the Docs did not even know what was in the bag. It's shameful and wrong but they have the dollars to keep it happening. I hope that Mom speaks to her Pediatrician about it.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBonita Yagiela

don't we wish that they'd know how to market ethically? learning how to "hit" the weak spots of the mothers is a major reason why formula companies have such a major advertising/marketing budget. over here, they've even banded together to form a trade association of 5 formula milk manufacturers with "the purpose of improving awareness of and access to appropriate nutrition for infants and young children"!

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

So, the only thnig I would be saying to my pedi office if they tried that crap with me would be "Please transfer our records to our new drs office. I am withdrawing my child as a patient due to your completely unethical pushing of formula and the exceptionally bad information you are giving out about breastfeeding." That booklet you didn't have time to get into has lots of flat out untrue stuff in it. To the point where I threw out the gerber breastmilk storage bags someone gave me because I didn't trust them to be safe.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel's momma

Holy Waah! Booby-trap prizes are news to me. The industrial-medical complex around here isn't that sophisticated. They just try and shove it down your throat.

And thanks Christy for the banthebags.org link.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacob

I signed up willingly for the 'welcome baby' kit from Nestle, I wanted the freebie backpack/changepad/icepack (and threw the rest out). I knew what it was about and had no interest. V was such a BF baby she refused to take a bottle, even of EBM *g*.
One of the first things I did when I took V for her first Dr's visit was open the cabinets in the office. They were filled with full-sized cans of formula, luckily however, my Dr was very pro-BF so I think she only handed them out if a patient was already pro-formula. She never mentioned it, never made BM sound deficient, but ya, check out the cupboards in a peds office.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterneeroc

The negatives have started to be covered so I just wanted to say, Laura's lucky to have your support and friendship, really that's what will get us through those early days. And congrats to her for making it through the first few weeks and through her first booby trap unscathed.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Wow. That is some horrible 'prize'. And some pretty blatant breastfeeding sabotage. :(

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

I was equally excited when my on-gyn offered me a free goody bag including a pregnancy planner during one of my visits. Until I opened it in the car (too excited to wait until I got home) and saw it included a big can of formula and the planner had a formula company name on every page-I think Similac, but not sure. I was so surprised and angry. I threw it all away immediately out of disgust. Next time I'll just say no thanks and maybe tell them it's a WHO ethical violation, in case they care.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaman A Droit

It's not even ACCURATE! As someone who had to wean my son, our pediatrician suggested knocking out one feeding every 3 days for 2 weeks. I do NOT recommend going that route. It was so painful and the hormones are all over the place. IF someone is going to wean and there's any way to spread it out better, I recommend it.

And no, that's not what disgusts me about this article, but thought I'd throw it out there. Not only are they trying to get women to switch to formula early, they are trying to get them to do it FAST. Ugh!!!

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarfMom

I got all the same "gifts" and materials. When one of my nurses asked me which brand of formula I'd like gifts from, I told her I was planning to EBF. Her exact words were, "Well, yeah, but you'll need to supplement with something..." I was SO confused. Then, when all those booklets arrived in the mail, my confusion worsened.

I'm happy to say I never used any of those products, I threw out the free bag/changing pad, and turned to online support when I needed it. Now, we are about to hit one year of EBF. I can relate to the last line of this article...we still get up several times a night :)

Yes...this is how it goes with the distribution of products to parents by healthcare professionals. As a maternal child nurse and clinical social worker...I think that it is important to give non-judgmental information about both breast and formula feeding to parents. It is only with proper information that they can make a very important informed decision about how they are going to "feed' their baby.
Parents should be cautioned when reading materials from companies such as Gerber/Nestle that there is a fine line between information and advertising. Even I have a biases when dealing with parents but the fact that I am aware of what they are helps me to keep them out of my clinical consultations with parents. This effort is ongoing and something that I take very seriously so I can respect a parents right to "self determination".

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLorette Lavine

Can't say I totally blame Nestle - they are just doing their job of marketing to mothers who haven't picked a formula yet. And given the stats on how few mothers make it to a year of breastfeeding, when they offer formula to breastfeeding mothers they are mostly preaching to the converted.
But the pediatricians going along with this is unconscionable. Their job is to protect the health of their patients, and they are clearly not doing that. The poster's friend has no reason to feel guilty for being naive. But a pediatrician being naive about formula marketing is indefensible.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChanna

It's different, because a breastfeeding mom doesn't need a CAN OF FORMULA. It's hard to breastfeed at first, and if the can of formula is there, a lot of times moms will use it and then their milk supply tanks, and then they use more formula, until they are exclusively formula feeding. It's just like if a formula feeding mom were only given breastfeeding information. It's a conflict of interests.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTracie

I can't say I am suprised at the marketing! But I am one mother who was grateful for formula...or my poor baby would have starved! I could not breastfeed do to serious complications. Sometimes formula is needed and we have to educate ourselves on the 'best' possible choice.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Well I can say I totally blame Nestle. The stats on how few mothers make it to a year - maybe it's BECAUSE of these marketing practises rather than vice-versa. With the approval of medical offices like the one in the article, disgustingly.

I've never had a sample of formula. I don't know how I managed to avoid them, but I wouldn't use a diaper bag given to me by any formula company. The Nestle bag may not have their name on it... but they have the little pink heart. And that's brand recognition enough.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJuliette

When I had my twins, I was new and naive... I took the bags and HID the formula (actually ended up donating it) so that my hubby wouldn't 'cave.' My twins never had an ounce of formula and neither did their little brother 3 years later! The information is sooo pro- formula, even the stuff that came in the so called breastfeeding bags!

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJackieM

Great blog article, except for the pharma bashing. Without pharma you wouldn't have any drugs, let alone new ones. And everyone wants their drugs for free, when it costs billions to get just 1 to market. Complain about the insurance companies.

Anyway, when I had my son I was given so much formula. Formula in the mail (Similac, Enfamil) and continuous Similac coupons. When I left the hospital, i had a big bag of formula because my milk was delayed. No advice on pumping or anything to build my supply. Luckily my ped was very supportive of Breastfeeding and we were off "supplementation" the first week. My son nursed for 19 months. I can't say he never got formula, but it was probably less than 30 oz total his first year.
I was lucky though, I had support from my husband and never gave up (despite plenty of issues). I know MANY moms in my area who give up early or never make it past the first month. There is little support in my area.
With this pregnancy, I refuse to accept the handouts at the midwife or the hospital. It is just wrong. Everyone should be promoting breastfeeding, not formula pushing.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Yes, it is so old school to say you have to supplement.

My mother in law said that continuously. You can't just Breast feed, you have to give formula, how do you know they are getting enough...
so defeating to a new mom.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

I'm sorry but I find this particular post/blog sooo ridiculous! I am sorry but nestle is just doing their job.I believe in exclusively breastfeeding, I did with my daughter but I appreciated the free bag and nipple(even if u nurse u can still pump and put it in a bottle occasionally so you can go out) not to mention the changing pad. Do you all really not have anything better to do than sit around getting your feelings hurt by a COMPANY just doing their job and MARKETING? If women fall for it its their own damn fault for not educating themselves and falling prey to an obvious marketing ploy. Criticize people and companies who deserve it and stop giving breastfeeders such a bad nitpicky reputation.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEM

Oh EM, you need to do some research, that's all I'm saying. Try google "bottle baby death".

Anyway... I didn't mean to read another comment before commenting.

That is ridonkulous. I'd fallen off the Nestle boycott recently, this makes me renew it.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Cook

Why should new, stressed, exhausted, many times fragile mothers have to be on the DEFENSE against "obvious marketing ploy(s)." Doesn't that statement, in and of itself, scream unethical to you? Formula companies can still "do their job" with out preying on mothers who intend to breastfeed.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill @BabyRabies

Exactly. It's a slippery slope, Mandy. What breastfeeding moms need in the begging in tons and tons of support, and as silly as it may sound, a can of formula (especially an unsolicited one) can really do some damage to a breastfeeding relationship. Say an exhausted new mom, for example, is overcome with emotion and maybe even pain, it's the middle of the night, she wants a break, she sees that can of formula the doctor sent home with her, a brand she never even researched. Instead of reaching out to get help of an LC or friends who may have been there, she opens it and makes a bottle instead of nursing that hour and the next two nursing sessions. Maybe she becomes engorged and gets mastitis, maybe she doesn't. Either way, she's sending a signal to her body to not create as much milk over the following days. So then when she wants to get back to exclusively breastfeeding, she's finding that she's having a hard time producing enough milk, so she has to go back to supplementing even more. I hope that makes sense.

The thing is, so many new moms have no idea the way this cycle occurs. They're not given this information beforehand and have to learn the hard way while they're struggling with their milk supply and/or latch after feeding those "free" formula bottles. That's why *this* is different that a free bottle of shampoo or any other product.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill @BabyRabies

But, let's be real here, not all moms are "informed consumers."

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill @BabyRabies

Really, though, Jill, the onus to prepare these new moms is on themselves and their medical providers, not the formula companies, who, like diaper companies or any others, are just shilling their wares. The real travesty is the lack of education and support from the medical establishment, and there is a massive societal hurdle to overcome in that SO many of our mothers chose not to nurse us because at the time, they were told formula was best. My mother any every woman her age I spoke to about it looked at me like I was from another planet when I told them I planned to nurse, and the fact that I'm still nursing my 18 month old gets more than a few odd looks, but I'm Olive's mom and it is my job, first and foremost, to make the best decisions I can to protect her.

I think the sociological factors are a much bigger deal that the advertising ones. Every time this debate comes up, I have to read dozens (or more) of women talking about all the women who CAN'T breastfeed (which simply is NOT true), and talking about choosing the bottles as if it is some sort of feminist strike against the male dominated establishment, which simultaneously breaks my heart and makes my head explode. THESE are the real booby traps. The naysayers and the misinformation and the cultural taboos about breastfeeding and, hell, breasts in general. I'm not saying this isn't crappy, shady marketing, I'm just saying there are way bigger factors in the big picture than swag bags, which many a determined bfing mom have exploited happily!

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Ali

Unethical marketing is the worst kind ever. And marketing is supposed to be sneaky. That's why it works. Sure Nestle is doing their job but they've crossed the line way past sneaky marketing into tricking people to think its okay to support child labour and the death of vulnerable babies and children.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelodie

I don't understand this need for 'non-judgmental' infant nutrition counseling. I've never met a medical professional who was *careful* about not pushing a vaccination schedule or the Back to Sleep campaign. No ambivalence there.

And yes, I know breastfeeding can be incredibly challenging, from personal experience. The nurses who helped and encouraged were incredibly non-judgmental, but this was *after* we had developed a crop of rather significant issues, not before, when I was weighing 'choices.' No, before my baby was born, my OB asked at an appointment: "You're breastfeeding, right?" and made a note in my file.

Motivation is such a huge component of successful breastfeeding, and if a mother doesn't have a supportive family, and her health care providers are giving her diplomatic information...

And this is not directed at personally, Lorette. I frequently see squeamishness with medical peeps when it comes to treating a nursing dyad, and it has always bugged me.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

who says you have to wean to formula???? i mean, i wanted to skip ever using formula, and go straight to cow's milk, which took time but eventually we got there. and that was at 18 mos., not 6 mos.!!

We did use formula in the beginning to help while getting the latch/flat nipple thing to work out, but that was barely any, just enough to help her gain weight and get rid of the jaundice.

I am getting really sick of the big companies/doctors taking away natural choices, making it seem like breastfeeding is more dangerous than iron-fortified formulas and cereals. Our country has one of the worst breastfeeding rates because they drilled it into us that it was bad and inconvenient.

Formula should be a back-up, for those who are unable to breastfeed. Not everyone can, and many have more obstacles than others. My sister breastfed her sons easily, no problems, and she told me that if she had had the issues I had she would have never done it. There needs to be more support for moms, and not just SAHM, but the working mom too, for breastfeeding. It's one of the most important decisions we can make for our kids.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjessica

Everyone *thinks* they are not susceptible to marketing, especially obvious ploys, but research proves otherwise.

Merely being given a goody bag at the OB's office means that a mother is less likely to start breastfeeding and to breastfeed exclusively. Those cute fun bags are basically stealth bombers (on a population level. Not talking about you, per se.) The cans of formula and coupons that come in the mail actually cause women to breastfeed less than they would if they didn't receive them (again, ymmv, but on a population level this is true).

Formula is proven to undermine health and cause poorer outcomes for both babies and mothers. THAT is why it should not be marketed like other products.

Would you object to McDonald's sponsoring the cardiac unit at a hospital and handing out coupons for free Big Macs after your bypass surgery? What about tobacco companies sponsoring the cancer ward, complete with free packs of cigarettes delivered to your doorstep at carefully timed intervals?

Formula companies HAVE TO undermine breastfeeding in order to sell their product. Their market share would fall by half if public health goals for breastfeeding were met. They know that free samples and goody bags work to undermine breastfeeding.

Formula marketing is not harmless.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermgb

Sad, but true, and I can't really argue, there.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Ali

The "free" swag makes formula more expensive for everyone, including those who really need it. There is no such thing as a free lunch (or can of formula).

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVW

A friend of mine and I both had little girls last August. When I say little, I mean they are both in the 5-10% of everything. Because of this and the fact that both of them had been exclusively breastfed all their lives, around 6 months (before either started "solids"), they were screened for iron deficiency. Both seeing different doctors who supposedly supported breastfeeding, both told they were going to need to supplement with either cereals or formula cause "breastfed babies always have iron deficiency." Turns out, both our babies were fine and have high and acceptable iron numbers. We have both since moved onto doctors who truly support breastfeeding. Just because SOME babies don't get enough iron, doesn't mean that ALL breastfed babies don't get enough.

October 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterK

Wow I feel sick after reading this post because the those pamphlets LIE to women. Nestle is NOT "just doing their job". Their job is not to spread misinformation. Have corporations really brainwashed us into thinking that "marketing" = scams and lies? I think this company deserves criticism, and I think this company deserves to be "outed" in posts like this on the internet.

October 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Dudek

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