Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A little local lactivism

Dear Medical Group Prenatal Orientation Co-ordinator,

I attended the 4 p.m. orientation you led on Wednesday, Nov. 2, as I am 11 weeks pregnant with my third child. I am a patient of Dr. D--, and am happy to have found a doctor with as much respect for natural childbirth as he has. I was very glad to hear about your full-range doula care service. I hope the praise and admiration for doulas that you expressed convinced some of the parents to make doula care a priority. I was also excited to see that the group offers prenatal massage. I plan to use that service myself as much as possible.

I know the Medical Group is interested in promoting the best health for mothers and babies. So I was quite concerned with the wide use of formula and formula company-sponsored items during orientation as incentives for the mothers in your care. I'm sure you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of baby's life. Breastfeeding is not just one option mothers can choose for feeding their infants -- it is exactly what all babies need and want.

Giving free formula to mothers so early in their pregnancies sends a dangerous message that could damage their baby's health. Nearly all the women who attend these orientations should have no problem producing enough milk to breastfeed exclusively with the right support. But many babies cannot digest formula at all, and their mothers find out too late -- after their milk supply has been weakened by supplementing. These mothers cannot use the coupons or free samples, but must spend their own money on specialized formula to replace their lost milk. Given proper information about breastfeeding in advance, they could instead make the perfect food for free.

Perhaps as mothers fill out medical history and diabetic risk forms, you could remind them that NOT breastfeeding increases their risk of developing breast cancer. You could add a box on the diabetes risk list for women who were formula fed, since feeding a baby formula instead of breastmilk increases his or her susceptibility to diabetes, among numerous other diseases.

You could also hold a drawing for free breastfeeding class coupons, and offer diaper bags sponsored by companies that make nursing pads or breast pumps as incentives. Personally, I was disappointed that I could not participate in the drawing for the gift basket because I would have to add my name to a Similac mailing list.

Assuming that all expectant parents are interested in free formula samples sends the wrong message about what method of infant feeding is normal, healthy and best for baby and mother. Breastfeeding is the gold standard. No formula, however advanced, can fully replace it.

Sincerely,

Crunchy Christian Mom

13 comments:

The Thinking Southerner said...

Good for you! I hated getting all that formula-company junk when I went to the doctor. I'd actually tell them, "no thanks, I'm going to breastfeed." They'd look at me as if it was the first time they'd ever heard it, and as if they were offended that I didn't want their freebies. Whatever...

Amanda said...

The forms they handed us when we got there were in an Enfamil bag. I immediately pulled them out, put them in my cloth knitting bag, and threw out the Enfamil bag.

Crankenpants said...

You go girl! Did they say anything back? I didn't like getting formula junk either.

Harmonia said...

I saw you on the Vegan Lunch Box. Thought I would stop by. Great place you have here! Lovely design! My place is:
http://harmonia.blogsome.com incase you would like to stop by.

Have a great weekend!

Emily said...

GREAT letter Amanda! I hated getting formula but took advantage of the bag LOL

Jocelyn said...

GOOD JOB!!! :) I love your suggestions for the risk boxes. Let us know if they respond!

madcapmum said...

Did you get any response back? I'd be interested in hearing what they had to say in reply.

Unfortunately, I was one of those who HAD to use formula because of cancer treatments, but I sure don't recommend it as a first choice. The kids didn't do well with it at all. Eventually I heard about goat's milk, and that was a much better substitute.

madcapmum said...

I have a book you might be interested in, too, called "Hold On To Your Kids - Why Parents Matter", by Gordon Neufeld. It's about parent-orientation rather than peer-orientation.

The Daring One said...

We had to use formula at the beginning of my second child's life for a couple of weeks when I lost my milk supply. What a difference. He did not do well at all on the stuff but it was all we had.

I was actually glad I'd saved the samples because I never had to go out and purchase the stuff. It is fetchin' expensive!

Luckily my milk came back when my hormones calmed down so he's back on the always-the-right-temperature, all-the-right-nutrients, ready-when-you-are, free-as-it-can-be, breast milk.

jane said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amanda said...

Thanks for all the great comments! Hope you don't think I'm a fraud, but I haven't sent the letter yet. My printer's not hooked up right, so hopefully I can get to my mom's house tonight and print it out there to mail.

Michelle said...

Excellent letter! I'm 28 weeks pregnant with my first, and *dreading* the onslaught of formula company info at my upcoming childbirth class. Thanks to your letter, maybe I'll actually speak up if they bombard us! ;-)

Amanda said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Michelle! Most childbirth educators are pretty breastfeeding friendly, so hopefully your class won't be too bad.

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