Is marketing a baby bottle harmful to breastfeeding?
As of July 1, 2011, Evenflo began a full-scale advertising campaign to market their baby bottles, officially putting them in the “non-WHO-compliant” camp with Medela, Similac and others. Ameda, however, stands firm and refuses to advertise their breast pumps.
Seriously, they are officially being grouped with formula companies because they are advertising their baby bottles. I am torn about how I feel about this. I breastfeed and fully support others who breastfeed. I also understand the need for pumping breastmilk for babies while a mother returns to work, she is hospitalized, or other reasons.
Are people really going to boycott Evenflo now that they are advertising their baby bottles?
Perhaps. I mean, they are technically violating the WHO code.
In the 1980s the World Health Organization released a code to stop the marketing of infant formula . This was a reaction to a deadly situation where formula was marketed aggressively in developing countries with unsanitary drinking water. Mothers fed their babies the dirty water-formula instead of breastfeeding and babies died. The WHO code is aimed at protecting the fragile health of babies in those countries and around the world, since breastfeeding is always healthier for babies than formula, even in America. You can read a full definition of the WHO code here.
Part of the WHO code states formula companies should never hand out free formula to new moms in hospitals and/or doctor’s offices. I wrote previously about the harmful affects of aggressive advertising campaigns on a mother’s breastfeeding success. It isn’t good!
Lactivists and breastfeeding supporters care deeply about WHO code compliance because their passion is in helping moms succeed in breastfeeding. Any marketing of non-breastfeeding products can only hurt that relationship. Annie from PhDinParenting.com voiced a position many lactivitsts have: “Personally, when it comes to breastfeeding promotion, I will stick to working with companies that have made a commitment to upholding the WHO Code.”
So here is my conundrum: I am a WHO code upholder. You can tell that from my previous breastfeeding posts. Ethically, I should not support only 90% of the code, I ought to support it entirely. However, baby bottles are a very necessary way for babies to receive breastmilk, so why not allow them to be advertised?
If a company is 100% supporting breastfeeding as opposed to formula feeding, maybe it can advertise their pumps, accessories and bottles and use their profits for La Leche League. What is wrong with that? I suppose what is wrong here, is that if you give them an inch, they take a mile. So allowing a tiny bit of marketing freedom to a pump company might create a loophole for a formula company to jump through.
I honestly wish they didn’t make it so difficult for honest, breastfeeding-supporting companies to monetarily succeed.
As for me, I will continue to support Ameda. They produce breast pumps and uphold the WHO code by refusing to advertise them. In a day and age when online marketing is everywhere, I know Ameda might be losing out on a few sales by refusing to advertise their pumps. But I also know that their compliance with the WHO code means the breastfeeding supporters and advocates will recommend their products above the violators.
But I am still torn about the bottles. Seriously, bottles of breastmilk are so good for babies when a mom is unable to breastfeed.