Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day brings tulips from Mead Johnson

This Mother's Day some Enfamil infant formula users received deliveries of fresh tulips as thank you for their loyalty to Mead Johnston's Enfamil brand. Moms were encouraged to share using the #EnfaMom hashtag, turning their gift for brand loyalty into free advertising for the brand.

Some did.

Once again the mighty multibillion dollar formula industry flexes its mom marketing muscles and this time it's messing with my Mother's Day bliss.

The most concerning thing about coercive and predatory marketing is how pervasive it is at local, most intimate levels. Most mothers who have given birth in the last few years in North America will tell you they received shipments of infant formula directly to their door, timed to coincide with their baby's birth. Some are given formula company gift baskets by their personal obstetricians. Keep in mind the relationship of trust and intimacy between a woman and her OB/Gyn.

Courtesy Jennie Bever, from Lactation Matters,
Keep Infant Formula Marketing Out of
Healthcare Facilities, May, 2014
Many celebrations designed to bring mothers and families together for mothering and infant feeding support are infiltrated by infant feeding product marketing. Infant formula companies are even using the United Nation's 1,000 days campaign as a springboard, according to the Irish Examiner:
"...It is revolting that any company would seek to piggy-back on the UN’s 1,000 Days campaign in a world where 830,000 babies die every year because they weren’t even breast-fed for an hour. You can argue whether the UN project has any place in Ireland or not but it certainly doesn’t have any place in the Rochestown Park Hotel with Neven Maguire or in Tesco stores where First 1,000 Days “exclusive goodies” are being handed out or at First ,1000 Days Baby Fair to be held in Belfast next year.

I applaud organizations who are taking an ethical stance and ensuring their events are free of coercive marketing.

Organizations and individuals who participate in events like Quintessence's Breastfeeding Challenge and their new Express Support virtual event, La Leche League USA's Live, Love, Latch, or Best for Babe Foundation's Miracle Milk Stroll, often tell me how appreciative they are of these organizations' commitment to ethical partnerships. This means public health nurses, La Leche League leaders, or moms who want to organize an event for their friends, can participate freely without worrying that they are sending families - and especially new families with a first baby - into an environment where they are subjected to coercive or predatory marketing.

The original founder of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, wanted a holiday for mothers. The day was never a holiday, and before long it had became so commercialized by Hallmark that Jarvis started protesting. She was arrested in 1948 for disturbing the peace while rallying against it and her reputation was besmirched by media outlets with a vested interest in the commercial venture it had become - she is often portrayed as dying alone, crazy and embittered in an institution.

And now on this Mother's Day we have infant formula companies, who famously spend billions getting hospitals and doctors and nurses to peddle their products, sending flowers right into the homes of mothers.  I wonder if Anna Jarvis saw this coming?
Read this excellent BuzzFeed article by Joel Oliphint for more on Anna Jarvis

Thursday, April 16, 2015

2nd Annual Miracle Milk Stroll May 2nd

Join us on Saturday, May 2, 2015 in U.S. and Canadian Parks & Malls for the 2nd Annual Miracle Milk™ Stroll to raise funds, educate, & raise appreciation for the life-saving power of human milk!
Register or donate:
United States Canada

The Mother's Miracle Milk™ Stroll is casual walk around the park or down the mall to show our excitement and solidarity for this North American fundraising and awareness campaign for the human milk cause!

It's not a march, or a walk for distance. Each location will decide for how long or how far they choose to stroll.

Whether it's delivered at the breast, by pumping or by donor, human milk IS Miracle Milk™. It is a complex "living" elixir of hundreds of ingredients that have the power to save lives, prevent disease, and promote and protect our health from birth - and for a lifetime. We don't need more science, we need more solutions to help more moms get more Miracle Milk™ to more of our fragile babies!

Proceeds from this year's Miracle Milk Strolls in Canada support Best for Babes and this year's Partner, the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada's Baby Friendly Initiative. US partners: LLLUSA and NEC Society. Sponsored by Limerick.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Big Latch On moves forward, leaves behind controversial sponsor

See note at bottom regarding Global Big Latch On and sponsorship - added May 10, 2015

The Global Big Latch On has confirmed in private correspondence with Human Milk News that they will be moving forward with the 2015 Big Latch On without the sponsorship of the controversial Mother's Milk Cooperative.  (See Human Milk News: "Who Owns Breastfeeding: Why I'm troubled by the Big Latch On: April 2014)

The Global Big Latch On is held during World Breastfeeding Week, and the theme for WBW this year is "Breastfeeding and Work, Let's Make it Work." Global Big Latch On is actively seeking sponsors for its 2015 events. As a participant in World Breastfeeding Week, Global Big Latch On affirms the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action's *sponsorship criteria:
WABA does not accept sponsorship of any kind from companies producing breastmilk substitutes, related equipment and complementary foods. 
WABA encourages all participants of World Breastfeeding Week to respect and follow this ethical stance.
This means no partnerships with pump companies, whether they are Code compliant or not, limiting the Global Big Latch On's ability to sponsor with major companies with a vested interest in getting in front of pregnant and lactating consumers who may not even be in the market for a breast pump. I think this is a good thing. Ethical partnerships are critical to supporting breastfeeding families in meeting their goals.

I'm relieved to see the arrangement with the Mother's Milk Coop/Medolac come to an end and I hope the Global Big Latch On holds off entering into any sponsorship arrangements with any companies who profit from the sale of human milk. The debate over the commercialization of human milk is starting to heating up and Global Big Latch On doesn't need to be associated with the controversy. (See New York Times: Breast milk becomes a commodity with mothers caught up in debate" March 20, 2015)

Contact Global Big Latch On to organize or register for an event.
I'm looking forward to this summer's Big Latch On events. I hope they are able to make it the sponsorship component work so breastfeeding families are free to gather in an environment that doesn't feel coercive. I know organizers will be relieved knowing they can jump on board without compromising their own positions around ethical sponsorship and predatory marketing.

*Edited Sunday, May 10th, 2015 (Mother's Day) to add:

Big Latch On has just announced a sponsorship arrangement for the 2015 Big Latch On with breast pump company Ardo Medical. The good news: Ardo is Code compliant. The bad news? The Code is a minimum standard, and World Breastfeeding Week organizer WABA has policies for ethical sponsorship that go beyond the Code. WABA has outlined its policy around sponsorship of World Breastfeeding Week, asking all participants to respect and follow this ethical stance. It provides this more detailed explanation on its website

WABA does not accept funds or gifts from manufacturers or distributors of breastmilk substitutes, related equipment such as feeding bottles and teats, commercial foods for breastfeeding mothers, or commercial complementary foods. It also does not accept funds or gifts from manufacturers of other products commonly used in infant feeding such as breastpumps and encourages WABA endorsers to adopt the same ethical stance.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Detroit mothers call out Medolac over growing exploitation concerns

See the full letter here
Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding AssociationMothering Justice and Breastfeeding Mothers Unite, along with a number of allies, have issued an open letter to Medolac asking for answers to questions and to engage in discussion of the company's "aims and objectives in recruiting African- American mothers in our city to participate in your for-profit milk-selling venture." You can read the letter here. At the bottom there is a place to for community members and organizations who also want to hold Medolac accountable to ask their own questions and/or to sign the letter to show support.

I've shared with the letter authors some of my questions, including my questions about the safety of Medolac's human milk derived products and their involvement with experiments on babies born addicted to illegal/prescription drugs:

Thank you for asking these questions. I would also like Medolac to make public the names of the hospitals that are buying or using their human milk products, and the research studies that show that they are safe for fragile, premature babies in NICUs – in particular, for babies born addicted to illegal or prescription drugs. Why aren’t these babies ALREADY receiving donor human milk? Why are we experimenting on these babies? (Clinical Trial report of research planned by University of Louisville, in partnership with Medolac: ) “This study is designed to develop pilot data on the acceptability and benefit of donor human milk for infants undergoing pharmacologic treatment for NAS. Specifically, gastrointestinal (GI) sub-scores, as well as total scores, will be compared between infants historically fed formula and those enrolled in a 2-week donor human milk study period.”)

Edited to add: If you live in Kentucky and want to donate milk to a non-profit milk bank, Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank  has milk collection depots in Louisville, Lexington and FlorenceThe NICU at the University of Kentucky is one hospital using milk from the Indiana milk bank