The Problems with Medela- from Makes Mom Happy

This post has been copied from Makes Mom Happy, who, in an effort to spread the word, has allowed other bloggers to repost her article.  It is truly shocking.  I have posted some of her article here.  If you would like to read the entire article, click the link at the end of this post.  Thanks to Amy for writing this.

You may have just read my review of the Medela sleep bra. It’s a great sleep bra, probably my favorite of the ones I have in that particular style. But I have to be honest with you all and tell you that I have some major problems with Medela as a company. I’m doing a separate post on this, partially because my issues with Medela go well beyond any product they make, and partially because this issue is big enough to merit its own post.

The World Health Organization is the public-health related branch of the United Nations. In 1981, it adopted The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (produced by the International Baby Food Action Network, IBFAN). Basically, this code was developed to give breastfeeding a fighting chance against the constant onslaught of formula marketing. Breastfeeding doesn’t have millions of dollars behind it to create the kind of ad campaigns formula companies engage in, let alone all that goes on behind the scenes with donated products and sponsorships.

A lot of money stands to be made by the people behind the artificial baby milk. And formula companies profiting at the rates they do indicates a significant reduction in the amount of breastfed babies.

Think of “baby,” and I’m sure the image of a bottle isn’t too far behind. Over the course of history, breastfeeding has become a secondary image and thought behind the omnipresent image of the happy mother feeding her baby from a bottle. That has a lot to do with the massive advertising and marketing campaigns by the formula makers. And despite almost thirty years of the WHO Code being in place, endorsed by 118 countries throughout the world, they’re still at it.

Why? Because no one is monitoring or enforcing the Code. Here are a few excerpts from the Code, quoted directly:
“Health workers should not give samples of infant formula to pregnant women, mothers of infants and young children, or members of their families.” (Article 7.4)
“Health workers should not give samples of infant formula to pregnant women, mothers of infants and young children, or members of their families.” (Article 5.1)
“Manufacturers and distributors should not provide, directly or indirectly, to pregnant women, mothers or members of their families, samples of products within the scope of this Code.” (Article 5.2)
“Manufacturers and distributors should not distribute to pregnant women or mothers of infants and young children any gifts of articles or utensils which may promote the use of breastmilk substitutes or bottle feeding.” (Article 5.4)
Basically, the point is to limit the reach of the formula companies’ marketing and advertising campaigns, in order to give breastfeeding a fighting chance against them. I don’t know about you, but I left the hospital with my diaper bag supplied by Enfamil, filled with samples of actual formula. I even received free cans of formula in the mail!

Of course, given that no one is monitoring or enforcing the Code, it’s no surprise that the formula companies are doing whatever they damn well please in the way of their marketing. The idea of the WHO Code is all well and good, but without enforcement, it might as well not exist. More and more information, imagery, and actual products related to formula reach the hands of healthcare professionals and parents. This is happening all the time and is virtually ignored.

Parents need to be educated about breastfeeding and its artificial substitutes, so that they can make informed decisions about it. They also need proper support systems, both at the family and institutional levels. Without these, dropping the statement “breast is best” in the lap of a new mom isn’t doing anything but making her feel guilty when she fails to breastfeed. That’s not accomplishing anything positive.

Granted, there are organizations emerging like Best for Babes, who are trying to fight the good fight and get the word out. But it’s a David and Goliath battle, no doubt.

Luckily, there are responsible companies out there. Take Hygeia and Ameda, both makers of breastpumps, for example. Hygeia actually goes as far as to inform the public, via their website, that they respect the WHO Code and even have a WHO Code officer on their staff to ensure that they’re always in compliance. Now that is commitment.

Ameda, another pump maker, was recently acquired by Evenflo. You probably know Evenflo as a bottle maker, one who was in violation of the WHO Code. Due to its acquisition of Ameda and its commitment to breastfeeding, they state on their website that they’re becoming the first WHO-compliant baby bottle maker. I’m hoping they follow through on that change and I wish there were more companies out there like Hygeia and Ameda.

Unfortunately, there are also companies like Medela out there. Medela makes the famed Pump in Style breastpump. It’s incredibly popular and so many moms swear by it. In fact, when I went to research and purchase a pump, I could scarcely find a review of anything but Medela products.

Medela is a huge, worldwide company with a budget to fit its stature. And they’re also blatantly violating the WHO Code. Not on a single-incident basis, but perpetually. They even have a statement on their website acknowledging their violation of the Code and taking the position that they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Isn’t this crazy?  To learn more shocking facts about Medela products and practices, please read the rest of this article.

———-> READ MORE.

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  • That just makes me sick!
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..ww – The Saddest Princess at the Prom =-.

  • barf.
    .-= Pamela´s last blog ..wordless wednesday: barn =-.

  • Breast Milk helps to boost a child’s overall growth raising immunity levels and bolstering IQ levels. Many women experience sore, cracked nipples, inflammation, tenderness. One can go for garlic, it accelerates the healing process by extracting puss and rooting out the germs, Elder, Chamomile and Poke roots help subside swelling and control inflammation, Milk cream accelerates the discharge of unhealthy puss formation.
    .-= Breastfeeding tips´s last blog ..Tips To Ensure Favourable Infant Breastfeeding =-.

  • jennifer

    A great topic to post. Thank you for the links and information ~
    I find it ironic that I see an Advent Bottle ad on the left side tool bar….and then an Emfamil Formula ad as I scrolled down.
    We can comment and dislike a way a company acts/ although it is our dollars that count. Perhaps the advertising on this blog could be addressed. It too is a violation of the WHO Code ~

    • I did not realize there was a formula ad. I will find the ad and have it blocked. it is not my intent to advertise for formula companies, and I have seen disposable diaper ads pop up too because of the “diaper” content on my blog. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • I did not see the enfamil ad. Would you mind telling me where you saw it? I have blocked formula ads through Blogher, and am going through my google preferences to block certain ads as well. Since I had never seen formula ads I had not thought to do so. Also, I am not against bottle advertisements since many breastfeeding mothers do use bottles for breastmilk when they work or leave their child. Honestly, if I could find a bottle that my son would take I would use it in a heartbeat for be able to have a date with my husband!

  • I can’t win! I just noticed google has started running ads for Medela pumps, hah. I will be working in filtering all of this out all day I swear.

  • I have the Ameda Purely yours bpa free pump and I love it. My first one started acting funny and the Ameda people shippped me out a new pump ASAP. There customer servace is great. I wish Hosipitals did’t give free samples to moms because I forgot about the free diaper bag formula stash and one night when I got home from work my DH was feeding our son a bottle of Formula because his mom said he would stop fussing with the formula and my Breast Milk was bad. Ugggh I threw away all that Formula samples and only Breast Milk was given.

  • The funny thing is, until I read Amy’s post I had never heard of Ameda. Next time I speak to my lactation consultant I am going to ask her about these two brands. I think she will be interested to know about Medela. My hospital is very pro-breastfeeding and I credit their lactation consultant with my success.

    @Carly I know what you mean about samples. That is too bad about what happened, but you got rid of it and I’m sure it didn’t happen again. My MIL always buys disposable diapers and formula for when we visit. One visit, I had a cold and my supply dropped. I was pumping and feeding my son constantly. She kept saying that I could give him formula, which she had. 🙁 No! But the freebies the formula companies send out are appalling. Cans, coupons, bags, notebooks, etc. My OB gave all kinds of things out in a large bag. There was a folder of ads. Why do they feel the need to pass these on? Grrr.

  • Kim, I read this yesterday on Amy’s blog & have now copied your post to my blog. Word really needs to get out about what Medela is doing.
    .-= Denise´s last blog ..The Problems with Medela–From Makes Mom Happy =-.

  • Alicia

    While we’re on the topic of socially conscious companies, I just found out that Zosephine diaper bags donates money (I think it’s 10% of sales) to the national domestic violence hotline. Apparently the owner knew someone who was killed by her husband and decided to support the cause. I think that’s really great when companies are generous with charity. Definitely makes more likely to buy their product! What other companies do this sort of thing?