Be fair-warned: I'm on my soapbox this morning.
I've received countless pamphlets with coupons in them, many, many samples, and two full-sized cans of formula. On Thursday, my son turned 10 months old, and the same day, I received
in the mail a sample of toddler formula (for babies 10-36 months) that boasts, "With DHA that milk lacks." (I realize they're referring to cow's milk, which unlike breastmilk, is lacking in DHA, but that is not clear from the advertising.)
All of the advertising is misleading (like the DHA claim above), condescending "Strong moms choose Similac!," and it all touts formula as the preferred choice for babies everywhere. Yeah, yeah, the propaganda mentions breastfeeding, but not without a heavy dose of the ease of using bottles and formula mixed in. What's more: I have never bought or fed Daniel formula and I gave birth at home. Why am I still getting formula ads?! (That's rhetorical, of course.)
I know that artificial infant formula is important to have in a developed society. We should have access to it, because breastfeeding doesn't always go as planned. I also totally support the right of moms to choose to never try breastfeeding and only feed their babies formula (or to use any combination of breastmilk and formula). But this barrage of junk mail from these companies should not continue.
First, it's wasteful: The amount of paper used is appalling. The amount of money they must spend on advertising, printing, and distributing has got to be astronomical. Like I said, I received two full-sized cans of formula (in large boxes, shipped right to my door), and they were heavy.
Second, it's just plain annoying: I feel insulted when I see one of these envelopes in my mailbox now, because I've worked hard at establishing and maintaining my breastfeeding relationship, and we're not going to just switch to formula any time soon. More importantly, there are enough "booby traps" out there without adding all this crap that's designed to undermine the breastfeeding relationship. (You can not tell me that Enfamil wasn't intentionally being vague when it designed the above slogan about DHA.)
Even worse, Similac has (fairly recently) come up an iPhone application that supposedly supports nursing, allowing you to time nursing sessions (and also suggesting the next feeding time instead of encouraging on-demand feeding). The formula companies have call-centers staffed with "feeding experts" (not IBCLCs) to answer all your questions about breastfeeding, and they sponsor "breastfeeding guides" on third-party sites with a heavy slant toward how difficult breastfeeding can be. All that, plus the free diaper bags sent home with new moms from the hospital, loaded with formula coupons and samples. It's abysmal.
I'll conclude with a story: I have an acquaintance whose baby girl died within a week of her birth. She received formula samples in the mail while her breasts were still heavy with milk for her baby who was gone. She called the company to ask them to stop sending her samples, because it was a painful reminder of the child she lost (and would never be able to nurse again). The formula company representative she spoke with advised her to save the samples for a future child. Any company that treats a grieving mother that way will never have my business.
Will somebody please tell Similac and Enfamil: I BREASTFEED MY CHILD!
On a related topic, I am deeply saddened to hear that Bravado (maker of my favorite nursing tank top) has sold out to Medela, a blatant (and unapologetic) WHO code violator. Anyone have a favorite nursing bra recommendation (for someone with a larger bra size) now that I have to find a new company to [help me] support [my rack]?