Why I Choose Not to Promote Formula Milk

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.

promote formula milk

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.

Dear Bear and Beany

12 thoughts on “Why I Choose Not to Promote Formula Milk

  1. Well done you! I agree and you won’t see any formula ads on my blog either. There are huge issues with the way formula is aggressively marketed (especially in third world countries) and the way 80% of its cost is marketing costs. I’d like to see it promoted less and the costs reduced.

  2. Well said! People talk about the pressure to breastfeed but with my first the pressure to formula feed from advertising made me doubt whether I was doing the right thing. Breastfeeding needs to be normalised so every woman knows that they’re have a great chance of succeeding with the right support and information.

  3. My son was ff from a day old (wanted to breastfeed, problems galore, 3 years on still a lot of mummy guilt about it…) and I completely agree with you. Formula is the only real alternative to breast milk and I genuinely think it should be a prescription item up to 6 months. It might encourage the NHS to spend more money on breastfeeding support that way.

  4. Great post and well said. I’m in Andorra and breastfeeding is actually very much encouraged, though you can find a zillion different brands of formula here as well. My own experience was pretty positive after a hiccup-y first month (blocks, mastitis, ugh), but breastfeeding in public was totally no big (nobody even BATTED AN EYELASH, it was fabulous) and then when we started combo feeding when my girl P was 9 months, that went well too. 🙂

  5. Very apt. There is money to be made from breastfeeding yet you rarely see companies advertising for it. I can’t say I’ve seen adverts for anything breastfeeding related yet I regularly see formula ads.

  6. Whilst I do think you are right that breast feeding products should be available in stores too to make it more equal, I really don’t agree with the stance on breast feeding not being promoted. As a mum who couldn’t breast feed I felt like there was pressure everywhere to feel like I should be. From big wall displays in the children centres, leaflets in baby packs and at the Drs to the NHS guidance and social media. It’s just advertised in a different way. Putting more advertising behind it, when to me it feels fairly equal, would have made me feel the pressure to breastfeed was seriously everywhere

  7. I love this, and completely agree with it. It is exactly how I feel; unfortunately a little while ago I did decide to work with a formula brand on a post because I needed the money. I thought about it a lot and felt like the post was about more than formula, but I felt guilty at the time and I still wish I hadn’t done it to be honest, it’s just not me xx

  8. Well done you! Im glad you choose what to promote and what not to. It easy to follow the herds of people who will review anything. Its your blog and it should represent you. Great subject too breastfeeding couldn’t agree more x

  9. This is great! Good for you! I breastfed both my babies (and I agree that the support for breastfeeding mums is dreadful!). I think these days it’s EXPECTED that you will give formula. I lost count of the number of healthcare professionals who nearly fell off their seat when I said I was exclusively breastfeeding. But the marketing of formula is just ingrained in our psyche now. Bottles and sterilisers are part of the newborn baby essentials list. #PoCoLo

  10. This is very well put in an environment where the slightest ‘wrong’ word can cause hurt and upset. Good on you for standing up for what you believe in. I am a big supporter of breastfeeding too #PoCoLo

  11. It was only when I was breastfeeding that I noticed the subtle bias in all those follow-on milk ads on tv – the way the mum’s complexion suddenly appears to glow when it changes to a bottle, the way the smile grows – everything just looks that little bit more rosey. Not enough to be overt, but enough to make the unconscious impression that they’re hoping it will. That said, I do think there is a lot of unnecessary pressure on new mums these days to breastfeed – I’d like to see a lot more focus on support, rather than simply the health benefits. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  12. Interesting post – I’ve no experience in breastfeeding or otherwise, but from a completely neutral pov it does seem biased, I guess there’s more money to be made from formula? Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

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