Why ethical marketing is important

Not so long ago, when I had my first child I had a lot of experience of formula companies. The idea's of foxytocin were common practice. On becoming pregnant I recieved an Emma's diary, which was full of formula ad's, babycare suggestions were all geared around the formula fed baby, Breastfeeding was given a nod, but the style of parenting which was normalised in all this was not compatible with breastfeeding. Getting babies to sleep through the night, 4h feeds, prams not slings etc.

I have never had any breastfeeding problems but if I had followed these parenting tips I would not have been able to breastfeed.

When I went to antenatal classes one of the 4 classes was given over to the 'lovely' SMA rep, who came to talk to us about feeding the baby, she got us all involved, we all smelt the formula and said how it reminded us of being little& memories of feeding siblings. It was left to her to tell us about breastfeeding too. We all went away knowing what we needed to buy to get ready for the baby.

I was one of only two who was still breastfeeding when we met after having our babies, so I wanted to start a group to meet other breastfeeding mothers. I met with the health visitors where they gave me a cup of tea in an SMA mug, the leaflets on the stand on how to feed your baby were mostly on bottlefeeding, the few about breastfeeding were produced by formula companies. 

When it came to weaning, the main info from the health visitor was a booklet produced by a formula company given out at 3 months. Reading through this booklet, which heavily pushed follow on formula, I was left ( A very well read trainee breastfeeding Councillor at the time!) with serious fears that my baby could become seriously deficient in iron - it laid it on that thick. My friends in the area who received the same literature felt the same.

As I got more involved I found out that the Reps would often go into local health care settings - with doughnuts to train up health workers, and I realised that the health workers were being trained by the formula manufacturers! this was why they had no confidence in breastfeeding.

I could add so much more!

As each of these ways for formula companies to market their products using the healthcare system has been stopped there has been incredible resistance - we really had to fight. Now I think it is at least acknowledged that it is not right. It is however important that we all continue to monitor the situation and to take action when these violations (of the WHO code) happen. www.who.int/nutrition/publications/code_english.pdf

I hope this explains why it is so important to keep on top of it!


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