As a blogger, I’m contacted daily by brands asking to advertise and collaborate with me on my blog. Recently, I’ve had a spate of emails about products designed to aid formula feeding and promote formula milk – all of which I have declined, and not just because Q is breastfed.
Don’t get me wrong – baby formula milk has it’s place in the world. Heck, I decided to feed O formula milk from the age of 4.5 months, as my breastfeeding journey with him was so unsupported and filled with obstacles. If it weren’t for formula milk, I would have lost my mind – and I was already suffering with PND. However, my breastfeeding experience with Q has been much more positive. I’ve found it way easier and felt more supported – which I think is because I’ve more experience as a mother and knowledge about breastfeeding. I digress.
I’ve chosen not to promote formula feeding, and the related products, for a few reasons – but there’s one big one that really sticks out…
Where are the adverts for breastfeeding?
Okay, so you might see breastfeeding leaflets on the shelf at the Doctor’s surgery and in your booking-in pack when you first see your midwife; but do we really see it in other places?
In 1915, the first advert for formula milk was created and its marketing has steam-rolled since. Nowadays, it’s everywhere – whole page spreads in magazines and newspapers; minute-long television adverts; advertisements on websites and social media; and products spreading across shelves and shelves in the baby aisles of supermarkets across the country (and world). Not to mention the related products you require to carry out the task of feeding a baby – sterilisers, bottles, teets, brushes, and the list goes on.
In the UK, formula milk companies have not been permitted to market infant formula since 1995 – up to the age of 6 months. I’m sure you will agree that that’s not really that long ago. Certainly, within my lifetime and this generation of mother’s. However, follow-on milk has been developed as ‘a food intended for use as a liquid part of the weaning diet for the infant from the 6th month on and for young children‘ and falls outside of these regulations. The World Health Organisation issued this statement which states that follow-on milk is not an adequate replacement for breastmilk and that “it is marketed in a way that may cause confusion and have a negative impact on breastfeeding“.
In the last couple of years, we have had breastfeeding mums grace our screens – like when reality star Samantha Faiers needed to feed her young baby on the sofa of This Morning. [In all honesty, I tried to find reference to soap characters who breastfed their babies,I don’t watch soaps but have heard it happens occasionally, but I just couldn’t find anything…] Other celebrity mums have posted to their social channels pictures of themselves breastfeeding, leading to the #brelfie, in a hope to normalise breastfeeding and promote it as an acceptable way to feed a baby.
Just to put it into perspective, I have started to do my weekly shop online with a delivery option. I’m running out of breastmilk storage bags and thought I’d add it to my shopping list this week. They aren’t out of stock, they aren’t in stock – they aren’t even an option. And considering the aisle is full of baby feeding products, I am dismayed and saddened that none of the products were applicable to breastfeeding mums.
So, this is why I choose to be one of the bloggers promoting breastfeeding. I don’t wish to shove it in people’s faces – I have very few photographs of me breastfeeding – and I certainly do not wish to upset other mother’s. We’re all doing our best. I just wish to do my part in ‘marketing breastfeeding’ to strike some balance to the aggressive marketing of formula that has been experienced for the last 100 years.