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Free Breastfeeding "Support" Kit

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lactivist reader Jess shot me an email last night to tell me about an email that showed up in her inbox this week.

She writes...

I don't know if you got the e-mail but I had to show you this! With National Breastfeeding Month I've been getting lots of "Breastfeeding E-mails." I got one today saying "FREE Breastfeeding Support Kit." I opened the e' and the pic didn't load so I don't know exactly what was in the pic but I followed the link thinking free nursing pads...something I could use. This is what it opened to (link just said "click here")

(I'm not going to link to the page because I don't want to send them traffic, but here's a screen shot of what she got.)

Read the text very carefully, especially the last paragraph.

I kept thinking to myself "of course this kit is specially designed for breastfeeding moms! The formula feeding moms are already buying your product!"

The second thought that popped into my head was all of those commercials from Phillip Morris telling you to stop smoking.

Every time I see one, I think to myself "Why the heck would I take advice on how to quit smoking from the people who sell me cigarettes?"

Gotta say...I see this as the exact same thing.

I'll say it again...I have zero, nada, zip problem with formula feeding moms. But formula companies? Sometimes they make me throw up in my mouth a little bit.


  1. Blogger Elizabeth F. | 8:13 PM |  

    That is ridiculous!

  2. Blogger Loren | 12:09 AM |  

    oh.. wow. Here I was expecting some sort of corny useless kit with 2 breastpads, a sample of nipple cream and a handful of advertising leaflets. But wow - that's an AWFUL way to try and get women to stop breastfeeding, by pretending to help! SHAMEFUL. How do some people sleep at night??

  3. Anonymous Robin | 4:43 AM |  

    Loved the vomit comment!

  4. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:44 AM |  

    I've heard about these coupons recently. Health care providers at a local hospital told me that it may be part of the reason they are still giving out the formula bags in the hospital. I think the formula manufacturers are really smart. They knew hospitals might stop giving these out in compliance with WHO/Unicef guidelines(despite the fact that they give all moms working in mother baby care free formula for a year). So now moms are told to take the coupons to the hospital to make sure they get their bag. Jennifer

  5. Blogger ~Jai~ | 7:31 AM |  

    Ya know, I came home with a ALOT of formula with my last child. So I put it all on Ebay. I got rid of it all, made a few extra dollars, and helped someone save a few bucks on buying their formula.

    I agree that these companies are just ugly, but what do they care? They are only out there to make money, they don't care about these moms or babies.

  6. Blogger Sarahbear | 7:35 AM |  

    I already thought it was strange when a formula brand was giving away a breastfeeding kit. Then I saw the can of Enfamil Lipil right there in front and thought ah...I see it now.

    We should write Enfamil a letter to thank them for their Free Breastfeeding Supplement with formula, ooops I mean, Sabotage. er uh "Support" Kit.

  7. Blogger Mrs. Sara | 9:16 AM |  

    I'm not a mother yet, but if my hospital offers me formula samples, I'm going to take them and then donate them to my church's food bank, where they can go to mothers who may need to use formula. It seems better to me to do that than to throw it out, or just leave it at the hospital where it's going to be given to the next unsuspecting mother.

  8. Blogger The Lactivist | 9:19 AM |  

    Mrs. Sarah,

    That's exactly what I did with mine. In fact, I went ahead and registered with the Enfamil and Similar sites when Nora was born and ended up with about a 2 month supply that I donated to a crisis pregnancy center.

    Just had some toddler formula show up in the mail this week (no idea how, not on any lists this time...Emmitt was born at home) and it will go to the food bank as well.

    I have no problem with moms taking it and donating it to someone who needs it, but I do have a problem with letting formula makers market in a hospital environment. (I don't think pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to market in hospitals either, but that's another story.)

  9. Blogger Rattling The Kettle | 10:12 AM |  

    Your comment about the cigarette companies is spot-on. The formula companies are as interested in breastfeeding as the cigarette companies are interested in helping people overcome nicotine addictions.

    And what's up with the DHA supplement "specially formulated for nursing moms?" Those moms' milk is already specially formulated with everything the baby needs! Gah!!!!

  10. Blogger tanya@motherwearblog | 11:57 AM |  

    I hate the supplement for moms.

    I saw Jack Newman speak recentloy and he pointed out that we now have formula for babies, toddlers, seniors, and now nursing moms. He said something like, "We will all soon be on formula from bith to death."

  11. Blogger The Lactivist | 12:04 PM |  

    Soylent Green is....People!!

    (sorry, I couldn't resist)

  12. Blogger Eilat | 12:11 PM |  

    "Enfamil LIPIL is our closest formulat to breast milk"
    This reminds me of my LLL leader's husband's saying:
    "Similac. Its similar but lacking"

  13. Anonymous Aruni Gunasegaram | 2:07 PM |  

    I'm not sure how they think advertising/marketing like that will be perceived as authentic. I agree with you that no one should be looked down upon for formula feeding which makes ads like this one even more eye rolling.

    I, too, always wonder why anyone would go to a cigarette company site to learn how to quit smoking. Talk about mixed messages. I have to say I am an avid NON-smoker and can't stand to be around cigarette smoke. When I was pregnant or nursing any smell of cigarette smoke would make me downright nauseous!

  14. Blogger Ali | 2:14 PM |  

    Whoa, hang on a minute - how did they get permission to use The Nursing Mother's Companion? That's what upsets me most about their little sabotage kit.

  15. Blogger Lesley | 4:28 PM |  

    Wow. These are the types of things that make me just want to break down and cry.
    I'm far too much of a lady to truly express how that makes me feel.

  16. Blogger JudyBright | 7:22 PM |  

    I'd check the pediatrician to see if they give your names to anyone.

    I play the corporate game to my benefit. They want me to get hooked on their stuff, but I just get stuff as cheap as I can and end up costing them money.

    The formula markups are unconscionable. Not only do they work against breastmilk, but they try to scare moms out of using store brand formula that is literally half the price of the name brand stuff. Enfamil especially claims that only they have the right lipids and that store brands can't compete, when all formulas have DHA and ARA now.

  17. Blogger Shay | 4:31 PM |  

    I still use the black Emfamil bag, it's a good bag. I donated the formula. I do have to give my hospital some credit, I was given a booklet on newborn care and the 14 pages of feeding was ENTIRELY breastfeeding info.

  18. Blogger jenny mae. | 10:48 AM |  


  19. Anonymous Wendy M. | 1:12 PM |  

    At the first visit to the Peds with baby Alex (now 4 months), the nurse handed me the same kit. I thought the cooler looked handy, but was already planning on ditching the formula.

    A few minutes later, the Ped walked in, rolled his eyes and snatched the "Support Kit". Since he remembered that I nursed my 1st boy for a long time, he just simply said, "I have a new nurse....I'll have a talk with her."

    I was happy he recognized it for what it was.... Although I could have used the nifty cooler!

  20. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:50 PM |  

    I agree this is an interesting approach, but until there's some type of way (and I mean $) to 'market' the advantages of breasfeeding to new moms as effectively as the formula companies do it, Corporate America will always have the upperhand. I wish I got as much information in my mailbox promoting breastfeeding as I do formula coupons and junk mail from formula companies. Right now I get a monthly newsletter from Enfamil that comments on my baby's development month-by-month and has a $1-$5.00 formula coupon tucked in the back.
    While I am a mom that is exclusively nursing, I can understand how a lot of woman are swayed to use formula. The rhetoric in their brochures often promotes self doubt in woman and says something like 'if a mom can't breasfeed for some reason formula is there for you.'
    I think formula usage is a product of our society that wants instanteous, easy gratification. And by that I mean popping open a can or bottle, mixing it and shoving it in their kids mouth- rather than taking the time to sit with their child, give of themselves and learn to breastfeed.

  21. Anonymous Colleen (My Baby and More) | 7:50 PM |  

    Ali -

    If I remember correctly, Cathleen had no control of how they used the book. They choose to use sections about "common issues".

    It actually talks a lot about the things that may come up; using words like "engorgement", "hurt", "soreness", "anxiety", "difficult" etc.

    The wording is geared towards the "what ifs" as a way to plant the seed of doubt . . . along with some formula -- just in case.

  22. Blogger Jessa | 1:36 AM |  

    This is nothing new, although the method of delivery certainly is (no pun intended). How sneaky! I reluctantly took home a similar bag from the hospital after my "Unnecessarean"-- IIRC, it was an Enfamil bag (the blue & yellow Peter Rabbit one, still makes me cringe when I see it at thrift stores) filled with ready-to-feed glass bottles of formula (premixed! no fuss!), screw-on nipples, a water bottle and a "feeding" guide (wouldn't want to say BREAST-feeding, that might scare the baby!). I wish I wouldn't have taken it. I actually tried to give my colicky son some formula when he was a month old and I was alone with him for the first time. Luckily, he rejected it and I called my local La Leche League group the next morning. Now, I'm a Leader! Nonetheless, I hope to soon be a foster mother and if an when I am, I will have to use formula. I REFUSE to buy Enfamil, Nestle or Similac. However, I will *take* all the free formula I can get (and that the baby can tolerate). {sighing}

    Thank you, Jennifer, for bringing this to our attention.

  23. Blogger sarah | 11:43 AM |  

    I formual feed and I have NOOOO problem w/ breastfeeding moms.

    I also think that it's wierd to give breastfeeding moms formula but I know there are moms out there that don't have a problem breastfeeding and using formula too.

    But I was a little dissapointed that formula that a mom feeds her baby is compared to cigarettes.

  24. Blogger Qtpies7 | 12:09 PM |  

    I give my formula away or donate it. But I have been glad to have it before. After my 7th child was born I had to have surgery when he was just little, and I was in no shape to sit and pump for him before hand. So he had to go the day without my milk, I still had to pump afterwards to get the anesthesia out of my system, but I was glad I did not have to go buy a can of formula to get through my surgery!
    I guess I'm weird, this doesn't bother me. Many moms try it out, don't like to nurse, and they have that formula there to start, and just keep using that brand, its sort of a marketing genious. Those who are die-hard nursers are not going to be swayed by such tactics. I never was with 7 kids, and I'm not a die-hard!
    My sister and my sister-in-law did not nurse long, so I'm sure they enjoyed their samples, too.

  25. Blogger Azuroo | 6:33 AM |  

    I got that exact same "support kit" from our hospital last year when I had my baby. The LC gave it to us! She also brought a package of pre-made formula to our hospital room when they'd given my baby a bottle of sugar water and a pacifier against my requests and she wouldn't latch anymore...

  26. Anonymous Hannah | 11:47 AM |  

    Add this to the list of reasons I'm glad I homebirth. I'm so grateful for Lactivist and all their efforts to get the word out about breastfeeding. I just wrote about the topic on our blog and linked to the Lactivist site. Thanks again for the great work.


  27. Blogger Ahmie | 8:38 AM |  

    Sarah - the comparasion was to the marketing techniques and suspicions on the motivations of the company, not the health effects of cigarettes being likened to that of formula. Feeding formula is less health for the baby and mom than breastfeeding. Smoking cigarettes is a LOT less healthy for everyone in the breathing area than not smoking. And now cigarette manufacturers are advertising on TV to go to their website to learn/get support to quit using their product, which makes people rather suspicious of the quality of that support, just as we're suspicious of the quality of breastfeeding support/advice that comes from someone trying to sell an alternative to what they're alleging to support. Kinda like a Kia dealer giving you advice on how to drive and maintain a Porsche or Prius and telling you how difficult those "cars that start with P" are to deal with, so here, take some literature about our Kia brand and by the way I'll give you a nice discount if you buy one really quickly without thinking about it too much. It's almost just as good, after all, right? It's a car, it'll get you from point A to B. The pleasure that comes with driving it or the environmental impact difference doesn't really matter as much as getting from point A to point B, does it?

    That's the mentality we're all annoyed about. Problem is, the issue involved is much more emotionally (and, honestly, hormonally) charged than what car to buy or even smoking vs. not smoking. It's about our babies, and BOTH sides throw some real low punches - formula side making it sound like breastfeeding is too hard for anyone who isn't a full-time-at-home-constantly mom (and don't you dare leave the house and make us see your BREASTS! *gasp* at least PUMP when you're going to go out! (that was sarcasm0), I've heard breastfeeding advocates at times make it sound like your kid will wind up mildly mentally retarded if you don't exclusively breastfeed for 6 months (which really undermines their message, especially given how many of us modern mamas were exclusively formula-fed ourselves and how malnurished we should apparently have been since they've added tons of more stuff to formula in the last 20 years... we'd be a generation of mentally defective people. I do believe that human breast milk is what human babies are designed to expect and less optimal results are achieved with alternative foods, but my friends already describe me as "scary smart" - if I'd been breastfed I'd be a world dictator by now I guess ;) ).

    Socio-Economic Status DOES play a developmental role, and currently a child is more likely to be breastfed if it's born to parents with higher income and educational attainment. This doesn't mean that high school dropouts living below the poverty level don't breastfeed, but it DOES make it a lot hearder to have a matched sample pool where the only difference is infant feeding status, especially when you add in how briefly Americans breastfeed compared to other countries. If you really want to try to separate it out, you need to have a large peer-matched sample and that's hard to get - same percentage of people in a similar/same geographic area at the same income levels... it's really difficult to find the subject participants. What I *have* been able to glean from what I've been able to get my hands on is that the differences between breastfed and formula-fed children are much more noticable in lower income areas than they are in better-off areas, which makes these coupons and "support" all the more horrible since those are the moms that get the least support (lowest breastfeeding rates are, last I looked, among poor urban minorities). And those coupons "help" them disproportionately more than they do us middle-class (at least able to afford the time at a computer to read and respond to this blog) folks. Heck, last I checked there isn't a LLL group that meets in urban Cleveland. They may have offered it and no one showed up, but it's a nasty cycle - no support drops rates, which drops percieved need for support, which further drops offers of support, which further drops rates...

    Wow, this probably should have been an entry on my own blog!

    And just because I know the Lactivist is a libertarian and I have to poke at her a little... I imagine that formula advertising would be a lot more restricted very quickly if we had universal, single-payer health insurance ;) There's no current financial backing in a big way for breastfeeding, but with all the scientific data behind it, if the government was suddenly paying for the potential negative outcomes requiring medical treatment associated with not breastfeeding, they may suddenly take much more interest in taking REAL steps to increasing our national breastfeeding rates and REALLY supporting nursing moms instead of just giving lip service to "breast is best"... but big formula manufacturers (who also manufacture many other things and so are huge corporations) make large contributions to political campaigns - imagine what Nestle probably provides to campaigns even after they cap out on cash contributions, they can still provide food for a political dinner and such. It adds up and it's known to the politicians. But I still love me my politics ;)

  28. Blogger The | 11:13 PM |  

    I am just now breastfeeding my third child after failed attempts and giving up and feeding the first two formula, and I got more formula junk mail and free formula after declaring to be breastfeeding than I did when I feed the girls formula! Not to mention the nurse who INSISTED I bring the free formula and diaper bag similac gives hospitals, I left it on the bed after leaving the hospital too!

  29. Blogger Simply Janeen | 9:56 PM |  

    Ugh, I'm disgusted though I shouldn't be surprised. We did get a sample of formula in the mail but my husband threw it out in the dumpster. I felt it could have been used by a formula feeding mom at least but my husband did not agree. He was not going to encourage that kind of thing. I was formula fed myself and don't think I'm too stupid. ;-) No, actually I like to think I'm pretty smart but I definitely wanted to breastfeed my daughter. I had about 15 weeks of pain and there were times when I was REALLY tempted but my husband was adamant and while I hated him sometimes, once the 15 weeks were past, it was great. And now my daughter is breastfeeding still at 19 months with the only formula she had being at the hospital during her first day of life because I had a c-section and she was taken away from me for the first hour and then when I finally did get to hold her, the nurses wouldn't help me breastfeed her and then it was another three hours in recovery before I got to see her again. By then, her blood sugars were low and we were told it was formula or NICU with an IV. We took the formula but made them do it with a tube. I STILL feel guilty about that.

  30. Anonymous Quit Smoking Pro | 2:06 AM |  

    > The second thought that popped into my head was all of those commercials from Phillip Morris telling you to stop smoking.

    > Every time I see one, I think to myself "Why the heck would I take advice on how to quit smoking from the people who sell me cigarettes?"

    Phillip Morris company kills a lot of people every year and wants to kill more. They make their anti-smoking propaganda totally ineffective; in the same time their advertising are very, very appealing.

    Every commecial company wants you stop breathing clean air and start paying them for some laughing gas or any other substance.

  31. Anonymous Jessica | 9:44 AM |  

    My hospital gave us this exact bag, however, we were also given the medela harmony pump as well. I think that if the hospital does it right, we can benefit from the marketing these companies have put forth.

  32. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:42 PM |  

    I think that it is nice that the formula companies are now offering supplements for nursing mothers to take. I also think its good that they have pamphlets that encourage nursing. I think they are just trying to market towards every new mom so they have different kinds of products. I also think that even though it seems like they are sabotaging nursing mothers, they know that many of these mothers end up either supplementing because they are busy with work and school and if that happens or if the mother stops nursing, they want that mother to choose their products instead of someone elses. I've been nursing for 7 months...I got the kits, I never used them but I found that having a can around "just in case" helped me to relax more. It made me feel that if I couldn't nurse my child or produce enough milk for others to take care of my child while I was gone, that my child would have something. I never used it though.

  33. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:45 AM |  

    As a breastfeeding mom, I found this kit (especially the guide they include) incredibly useful and have recommended it to so many other new moms. I found the guide incredibly to the point and easy to navigate during those early sleep deprived days where breast feeding was very difficult for me. As someone who had difficulty getting her milk in, I didn't have a choice but to supplement (well, the choice was not to supplement and starve my child) and I totally respect Enfamil for not making you feel like it's an "either/or" choice. Everyone thinks you "either" breastfeed "or" you feed your child formula. For so many of us that are not blessed with a good milk supply, it has to be an AND -- breast milk AND formula. And there's nothing wrong with that. Good for Enfamil for supporting breastfeeding moms and realizing that so many of us do need to supplement.

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