One of ProMom's supporters reported
that in visiting a Motherhood Maternity store at the Lafayette Square
Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana, she and her nursing infant were the
target of a formula marketing promotion. When she asked the saleswoman
why Motherhood Maternity was trying to give free samples and coupons
to pregnant women, the saleswoman declared that "most women
can not breastfeed anyway".
This is the letter that our supporters sent:
Dear Motherhood Maternity/Motherhood Nursing:
It has come to my attention that infant formula is being promoted to customers in your stores. You may not be aware that the marketing of infant formula is a major contributing factor to the low rates of breastfeeding success. There is documented evidence which shows that mothers who receive free samples of infant formula and are not only more likely to stop breastfeeding early, but also less likely to attempt breastfeeding at all.
Health organizations worldwide are well aware of the fact that breastfeeding protects mothers and babies and is a practice which needs protection itself. In fact, the practice of marketing artificial infant formulas is in direct violation of the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. This International Code states in part that, "There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public of products within the scope of this Code." Article 5.1
Another attempt to support breastfeeding is evident in the most recent statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics: "Extensive research, especially in recent years, documents diverse and compelling advantages to infants, mothers, families, and society from breastfeeding and the use of human milk for infant feeding. These include health, nutritional, immunologic, developmental, psychological, social, economic, and environmental benefits…Human milk is the preferred feeding for all infants, including premature and sick newborns. It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least the first 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.." (A.A.P. Breastfeeding Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk).
Replacing breastmilk with infant formula compromises the health and well being of babies; the risks are well documented in medical literature. For example, babies who do not receive breastmilk are at higher risk for many health conditions, including food and respiratory allergies, asthma, bacterial meningitis, ear infections, childhood leukemia, SIDS, juvenile diabetes, RSV, and obesity, among others.
In addition to the risks for infants, there are also possible risks for mothers who decide not to breastfeed or wean early. They are more prone to developing ovarian, uterine, cervical and breast cancers as well as post-partum hemorrhage, post-partum depression, and osteoporosis.
Breastfeeding helps ensure optimal growth development in infants; however, with formula, babies do not receive the unique benefits offered only by consumption of human breastmilk. I am sure you are not intending harm by promoting infant formula, but that is a significant consequence of marketing breastmilk substitutes.
Your employee's comments that most mothers can't breastfeed is the kind of uneducated remark that feeds the cycle of misinformation. Many mothers are bombarded with misinformation about formula vs. breastmilk everywhere they go. One would hope that your stores could offer accurate information. Please join in the global effort to protect mothers and their babies by putting an end to the unethical campaign in your stores of endorsing infant formula.
Update: Motherhood Maternity's Response
Several people have reported receiving the following
resopnse to letters they submitted as part of this 3-Minute Activist
Thank you for writing us to express your concerns about providing
information regarding the Welcome Addition Club sign-up program
store. I have spoken with our team and your opinions have been heard.
We've used this opportunity to reaffirm for our store team members
firmly believe that breastfeeding is best, and that any personal
should not be introduced to our customers. Thank you again for bringing
this to our attention.
We as a company do believe that breastfeeding is best and we work
number of organizations to help provide our customers with all of
information on breastfeeding and formulas so that our customers
can make an
educated decision that is right for them, and that begins with
As part of our effort to support breastfeeding, we strongly support
League International by delivering information about breastfeeding
LaLeche in our Motherhood stores and our Motherhood Nursing materials.
also support the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition, and their
endeavors to build breastfeeding. We also welcome breastfeeding
stores to help make it as easy and comfortable for moms.
Again, thank you for making us aware of your thoughts. We value
opinions and look forward to serving your Maternity and Nursing
The Motherhood customer service team