How Formula Marketing is Sabotaging Breastfeeding...

By: Kristy Kemp (Owner of BFMT) 

Let me start this off by saying this isn't one of those, 'Formula is poison” articles. This argument isn't even about formula in itself, it's about MARKETING and the manipulative tactics formula makers use in order to sell their product. Let's face it, the formula makers didn't create their formula out of the kindness of their hearts. I will go over each formula marketing tactic that most breastfeeding advocates feel is sabotaging breastfeeding. They aren't even sneaky about it. I have put together an album, recently, of mama stories about how they experienced Manipulative formula marketing. Click HERE to get to the "Manipulative Formula Marketing" album.

Manipulative formula marketing

Formula marketing and a parent choosing formula are two different things. Please stop twisting us speaking out against formula marketing tactics as us being against formula all together. Formula makers are a BUSINESS, they don't hand out the free samples and checks to be nice, they don't make the commercials and ads just for fun, they do whatever they can to get their formula sold and now that breastfeeding is becoming almost normal AGAIN they are getting desperate and making formulas now that target breastfeeding mamas by changing a few words on the can to entice breastfeeding mamas to CHOOSE their brand. Are we against the mamas who so choose to formula feed? NO!!! I created Breastfeeding Mama Talk and I formula fed! Being a hardcore breastfeeding site we have the right and the duty to bring awareness & speak out against these manipulative formula tactics. Over the last few days we have been showing a few examples as to what we mean by their tactics such as- Excluding breastfeeding off forms when they ask about the way the baby gets fed, formula samples being sent to homes that never even signed up, Hospitals giving mothers formula samples even after they explicitly state they will be breastfeeding, Changing some words on the can to target breastfeeding mothers to buy their formula, I even tried calling into the "Lactation service" they offer for free and pretended I was having trouble with supply so asked what I should do. Can you guess what their response was? To supplement with formula after each feeding. That is not accurate or legit advice. 
The manipulative formula MARKETING needs to stop and that is part of our fight to normalize breastfeeding. So please stop confusing the two. We're not saying that formula in itself is bad just the formula marketing. 


1.) Formula samples/coupons being given out and promoted in the hospital and/or doctors offices.- This is the most controversial one out of them all. People love free samples so when they feel like someone is arguing against something they think benefits them, of course, they will have a problem with it. Really it isn't even the actual handing out of formula samples that is wrong. It's the promoting and handing them out at the hospital and doctor's offices. Power of suggestion is a very strong thing. By weaseling in their formula brand into a hospital and getting doctors and nurses to promote it is power of suggestion to all these new parents that the person they are entrusting to get advice from is basically suggesting they use this formula brand. Power of suggestion is not that farfetched. People will always argue in defense of this practice, but a lot of people see past that facade that formula makers and doctors are giving away these samples to help the parents out. Think about it for a second, You are given this formula brand for free probably about $20 worth if that, you end up going with it, so for the next at least year or so they now have made their initial $20 investment and got a full return times thousands extra. Look past your free samples for five seconds to see the bigger picture. Okay, but how is it sabotaging breastfeeding? I mentioned power of suggestion above. When a mama doesn't feel like she NEEDS to breastfeed and is getting formula pushed on her some are not strong to fight through that nonsense so they end up settling with formula. When breastfeeding is not super encouraged during the first few weeks, most end up not breastfeeding at all. Breastfeeding advocates are looking to change that. Looking to get all those formula marketing tactic out of the hospitals and out of he doctor offices. You can still get your free samples, but through the mail. It's not us as someone said, “Ruining a good thing for those who don't breastfeed.” It is us trying to make sure mamas are in a fair environment where the natural and best means to feed a baby is the one being promoted. Hospital that promotes breastfeeding and not formula= More breastfeeding. It's just that simple.

Manipulative formula marketing

2.) Formula commercials & ads everywhere glorifying the use of formula.- Formula advertising on the television, magazines, being sent to your home, around the stores, & of course in the doctors offices and hospitals. Formula should not be advertised in such a way that glorifies it to be the best and only means to feed baby. The more people see something the more they grow comfortable with it and their brain is then conditioned to find it the norm. When it comes to the safety and well being of babies we all should take notice to this. Again, this isn't us hating on formula in itself. It's, us fighting agains the formula MARKETING. Formula marketing should not be allowed and glorifying formula shouldn't either.

Formula markating

3.) Specifically targeting breastfeeding mothers.- This one probably makes me the most upset out of the three. They now have formula with wording on the can such as – 'For breastfeeding mothers who choose to introduce formula.” There is no ONE perfect formula that is the PERFECT supplementation to breastmilk so to market it as such is outraging. Formula makers need to leave breastfeeding mothers OUT of their marketing. Basically, they change up some of the wording on the can so that if a breastfeeding mother does end up supplementing they will be sure to choose their procuct over the others. Classic manipulation 101.

4.) A recent tactic a breastfeeding mother informed us on is breastfeeding being completely left off a form at her doctors office when asking how baby was fed. Yet, they made sure to include just about every brand of formula. That is the “out of sight out of mind” tactic.   

5.) Offering "LC help" to breastfeeding mothers. Some formula companies are actually advertising real help from a Lactation consultant. As an experiment I called the number and pretended my issue was with my supply being low to see what they would suggest. I was more than outraged when I was told to supplement with formula after each nursing session. Supplementing is not wrong, but if you want to last awhile with breastfeeding supplementing should be the absolute last resort. Every time you feed baby anything other than boob you run the risk of your supply decreasing until it  diminishes all together. So to suggest to a mother who MAY THINK she is having supply issues to supplement as her first and only option is not correct/legit information and is yet another manipulative formula marketing tactic. 

Manipulative formula tactics

6.) Pushy deceiving emails- A mother just recently sent this into us, an email she keeps receiving from a formula company. Pushing, encouraging, and promoting breastfeeding mothers to supplement. The last thing a breastfeeding mama should do is supplement. Supplementing in itself is not wrong, but it can have a detrimental effect on your milk supply so if you have set a goal to breastfeed as long as possible then you don't want to risk your supply going away. Also, just because you're sick doesn't mean you need to stop breastfeeding. 

Manipulative formula Marketing
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