Recently, a friend of mine forwarded me an email she received from Enfamil. Now let me be clear: This friend is a breastfeeding mom. She’s never purchased formula. She’s never signed up to receive emails from formula companies. She’s never received any emails before now.
Here’s what appeared in her inbox:
There is so much wrong with this email that it’s hard to know where to start. It is so carefully crafted and timed so precisely to drive women away from breastfeeding and onto formula. Let’s break it down piece-by-piece.
Perhaps you’re getting closet to a time when you’ll be going back to work. Or maybe you’re doing a bit more outside the house these days – like getting some exercise or running a few errands.
As carefully timed as this email is, it likely will coincide with a mom returning to work. The US has pitiful provisions for maternity leave, so many moms have to go back to work at around six weeks. Additionally, by this time, many moms have reached a point in their postpartum recovery that they would be feeling self-conscious about the way their bodies have changed post-baby. They may feel like they want to get out more and more.
They go on to say,
This could be a good time to supplement with Enfamil. Supplementing gives you added flexibility and also allows other family members or caregivers to feed the baby when you’re not there.
Let me just stop you right there, Enfamil. Breastfeeding does not shackle you to the couch. It doesn’t prevent you from exercising. It doesn’t prevent you from returning to work.
Here’s the thing that’s weird about this. They talk about all of this needed flexibility. So why don’t they mention breast pumps? Not one single mention of expressing milk. No mention of breastfeeding in public which most of us do on a regular basis, either. Remember folks. This wasn’t an email targeted to a bottle-feeding mom. This wasn’t an email targeted to a mom who reached out asking for this information. This was targeted at a breastfeeding mother who, at seven weeks, has an established breastfeeding relationship.
Let’s read a little further in this email.
[Blah blah blah, Enfamil is so great and awesome.] Thinking of a time when you’ll switch to formula entirely? Check out our tips for weaning your baby.
Notice the wording here. They don’t say, “Thinking of switching to formula entirely?” They don’t say, “Are you thinking you might switch to formula entirely?”
Thinking of a time when you’ll switch to formula entirely.
When you will switch to formula entirely. Will. Not might. Not thinking of. Will. As if this is the regular course of action. As if it’s what’s done. You nurse for six weeks, supplement a bit longer and eventually wean entirely over to formula. It’s normal. It’s what everyone does. Why wouldn’t you? It’s not like there are no alternatives, right?
Alternatives like maybe breast pumps. Hand expression. Nursing in public. Federal laws protecting mothers’ right to express milk during the work day.
They go on to provide some very “helpful” links. Here’s what they have to say about supplementing.
The very top section says,
If you’re weighing the decision to supplement your baby’s diet with formula – for extra nutrition, back-to-work flexibility, or to give dad and other caregivers a hand in feeding…
Excuse me? Extra nutrition? Is Enfamil really going there? Let me be very clear. Breastmilk is the perfect food for a baby. No extra nutrition required, thankyouverymuch.
But good on Enfamil for preying on a mom who might be feeling stressed and inadequate if she didn’t know that the six-week growth spurt was coming. When that baby nurses and nurses all day long, plenty of moms think their milk is drying up. Unless they’ve got a good support network built, they may not realize that this is completely normal infant behavior that only lasts a week. Remember what I said earlier about how carefully timed this email is?
She may also not realize that bottles of breastmilk don’t need to have more than a few ounces. She may be using the common formula method for calculating bottle size instead of just figuring on 1 ounce of milk per hour. She may be fresh back to work and looking at the huge 6 oz bottles that formula fed babies are getting and feeling like she can’t produce enough milk to feed her baby. Extra nutrition indeed. Well played, Enfamil.
Also, let’s not forget, breast pumps are available and, while not cheap, they’re far less expensive than formula. Only the briefest mention of that here, though, and only as a stepping stone to prepare a baby to receive formula.
We read several times in this article how Enfamil’s formula is “patterend after breastmilk.” They emphasize how “low” breastmilk is in Vitamin D (Uh, really?) and how great the DHA and ARA in formula are. There is so much wrong with this page that it’s hard to know where to start.
Let’s also have a peek at Enfamil’s kind-hearted tips for weaning your child entirely onto formula.
Again, it starts bad right at the top:
1. Know when to say wean. Sometimes babies lose interest in breastfeeding on their own when things like walking steal their interest.
Okay, really? They say walking could steal their interest, but right around this time, many babies realize they’re no longer inside Mama’s womb. They become interested in the world around them. Then at four months, BAM! Distractibility hits. This is biologically normal. Every baby does this. It’s simply part of the natural course of breastfeeding. This doesn’t mean a baby is weaning.
Check out this article from Kellymom.com: Do babies under 12 months self-wean?
At no point does this article reference the WHO recommendations for breastfeeding duration:
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.
At no point do they reference the AAP recommendation to breastfeeding duration:
In the policy statement, “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk,” published in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published online Feb. 27), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.
Let me be very clear. Formula is not poison. Formula can be a medical necessity and a life-saver. Moms who feed formula are not bad moms. Gabi required formula supplementation during the first few weeks of her life because of the side effects of pitocin I received during labor and lack of breastfeeding support available to us. This post is not about that.
This post is about a company that is using half-truths, misinformation, and predatory tactics to market its product at the cost of the health of babies and mamas. This is unacceptable.
Stop it Enfamil. Stop preying on the insecurities of breastfeeding moms. Stop. Right now. Stop with your “breastfeeding support” emails, hotlines, and websites. Stop trying to get into the middle of the relationships we have built with our babies. Stop lining your CEO’s wallets at the cost of our children’s health. Stop putting the almighty dollar over the well-being of our babies. Stop right now.
We don’t want what you’re selling.
Update: This post has gotten way more of a response than I expected. I’m not the only one mad about this. Please take a moment to tell Enfamil to stop this kind of marketing. Tell them on their facebook page or tweet at them using #stopitenfamil as your hashtag. Call them. Email them. Make your voice heard!