I just got an unsolicited package of baby formula. I thought there were ethical rules they agreed to abide by NOT to do that to nursing mothers. I have to guess that the timing (you know, about the time most women have to return to work) is not coincidental.
Do you wonder why I’m mad at getting free baby formula?
1) Breastfeeding has been shown to generally be the best option for babies. (Note: it’s not always possible and isn’t ALWAYS the best option)
2) Studies have shown that women who are given free formula are less likely to continue successfully breastfeeding (http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/free.shtml)
3) Even using a little formula can affect milk production. Milk is a “use it or lose it” proposition — mom’s make as much as their baby’s drink, so if their baby’s drink some formula instead of milk, the mother creates less milk. This is a very difficult cycle to break.
So sending a mother about to reenter work free formula (two whole cans!) might tempt her to use some of them (for a good night’s sleep, or to do that instead of pumping at work — assuming that’s an option). That will create a dependency for the child for the rest of their time nursing, which is usually until about 12 months.
Oh well. I’ll donate them to a food bank. There are moms who can’t nurse, shouldn’t nurse (if they are doing drugs, for example), or can’t pump at work. Formula isn’t evil. But this method of marketing it is, I think, underhanded.