Is it always bad to advertise for baby bottles? Does it always break the WHO International Code of Marketing Breast milk Substitutes? Would it be unethical of a blog to advertise for baby bottles if no imagery was used? What about if that site was a beastfeeding site and the ad was meant solely for pumping moms? What if it was just for a one-day-only baby bottle giveaway?

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These are a few of the questions going through my mind as I write this post. Breastfeeding Moms Unite! is about supporting and being accessible to all breastfeeding moms. That includes pumping moms. And pumping moms need to put their breast milk in something don’t they? It’s not like if a mom who pumps her milk sees a baby bottle that she’s going to think “I should really switch to formula.” Don’t pumping moms deserve to see and learn about their baby bottle choices so they can make an informed decision? Let me back up here and tell you how this train of thought got started.

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A representative from Pure Glass Baby Bottle contacted me about a giveaway. Today, January 18th, the first 2000 people to register at their site between 12-1 PM EST will receive one free 8 oz glass baby bottle, complete with nipple, cap and ring. Of course they wanted my help to get the word out. Of course the first thing that crossed my mind was “no way.” But then I thought about the pumping moms I know. So I looked at their site.

They have a nice site. They don’t show any photos of babies drinking from bottles and they emphasize the purity of glass and the environment. (If I had ever pumped my milk I would have used glass). They also emphasize that breast milk is best. Of course, this is what we hear from formula companies too so it’s not like I was convinced of a sole loyalty to the breastfeeding consumer. I also wondered if there was a catch to registering at their site to receive one of these free bottles so I asked the representative and this is what she said:

“After moms register on our site they are then sent the glass baby bottle to the address they choose to provide. No additional materials or information are sent unless they choose to “opt in” for additional promotions and information from O-I. To answer your second question, O-I is not currently affiliated with any formula companies, and I am not aware of any coupons for breast milk substitutes that will be provided.”

If you went on a breastfeeding site and saw an ad for bottles would you think, “Ah, those are for pumping moms” or would you just think “Oh, lookie, she sold out.” Would you look at them any different than if you saw that same ad on another non-breastfeeding site? What if there was a disclaimer attached: For pumping moms. It’s not like formula feeding moms read breastfeeding blogs anyway, do they? If they do, come out, come out wherever you are! So my thinking is that pumping moms need to be marketed to too right? And if we can agree that pumping moms are a rather determined bunch of women who want to ensure their babies get the absolute best (no formula shall touch the lips of my baby!) then wouldn’t it be safe to assume they’d want the very best kind of bottle to put their precious breast milk in?

But what about bottle imagery? What about the Blog Her ads that so many mom bloggers opted out of displaying on their sites because the very sight of a baby bottle conjures up the belief that the image will in turn cause moms to feel good about formula feeding?

Before Annie from PhDinParenting challenged BlogHer ads to allow bloggers to opt out of displaying ads for bottles on their sites she said:

I do understand that bottles are sometimes used to feed breast milk. As a former pumping mom myself, I did allow a bottle ad on my blog in the past that specifically mentioned using the bottle for breast milk and that didn’t point to any specific super powers of the bottle. I know that in theory it is a violation of the Code, but personally I didn’t feel that it crossed the line. Others may disagree, but given all the extremely unethical and deceptive marketing practices by manufacturers of breast milk substitutes, I felt this one was acceptable.

I feel like there has to be a grey area somewhere. I’ve told many of my readers that I support the Code and that I will never advertise breast milk substitutes or baby bottle gear. If a bottle company approached me and offered to pay me to advertise their merchandise on my site I wouldn’t do it. I don’t want to be affiliated with the sale of breast milk substitutes or gear. But is offering up some free glass baby bottles to the pumping moms that read my site that are only available for one hour on one day, without any bottle imagery, without marketing this post as a giveaway, and with all of this questioning of the practice to begin with still wrong?

I’m really interested in what you have to say. I hope you won’t throw me under the bus, but if you feel the need to, let me know.

For advice on pumping and feeding the breastfed baby from a bottle see this page on Kellymom.

By the way, I am not receiving compensation of any kind to write this post or display this giveaway. I decided to do it because it was good fodder for a Monday Musing post and I really wanted to generate a discussion on this since there hasn’t been one since the Blog Her ads situation and I’m trying to come at this from a different angle.

******

Update: I now believe that the above mentioned company does break the WHO Code. Their “nice site” is full of misleading statements about infant feeding. You can read more about this in the comment section below. Breastfeeding moms now have to make the choice between two causes: protecting the WHO Code or protecting the environment.  

The Giveaway is now over. The bottles are all gone.

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43 Responses to “Monday Musings: Is It Okay To Advertise Baby Bottles To Pumping Moms?”

  1. #1 Laura Says:

    January 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm
  2. #2 Amber Says:

    January 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm
  3. #3 Naomi Says:

    January 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm
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    January 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm
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    January 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm
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    January 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm
  10. #10 Danielle Miller Says:

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    January 19, 2010 at 12:24 am
  17. #17 Annie @ PhD in Parenting Says:
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  19. #19 Annie @ PhD in Parenting Says:
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