Similac: Fox in the Nurses’ Hen House

Fox in the Hen House: Similac's Night Nurse NationSimilac (and all formula companies) need to constantly reinvent ways to market their products and find new market shares (Similac Mom, anyone?).

They have to find ways to get their products into the hands of moms and the mouths of babes as close to birth as possible.

Getting doctors and nurses to hawk their products to vulnerable new parents is the fastest path between their factory and baby’s unsuspecting virgin gut.

As if the massive amounts free samples and products and predatory ads aren’t enough, they’re looking for more subtle ways to garner a loyal following.  After all, if the nurse trusts the brand, she’ll be more likely to recommend it to mom, who will take the nurse’s advice to heart and stick with the ostensibly superior brand (when in reality, she could do just as well to buy generic.) (If you use formula, be wary of this kind of marketing. There is no best brand.)

Formula brands are seeking consumer trust via expert advice. Enter:  Abbott Night Nurse Nation.  From the ‘Info’ tab of the page (accessed 1/6/11), “Night Nurse Nation is brought to you by Abbott Nutrition and is meant to be a representation of the interests of the nation’s registered Night Nurses.”  As of 2/10/13, the page’s about section reads: “NightNurseNation, a community for Night Nurses that provides support & resources focusing on nursing at night, neonatal care, & infant nutrition. From Abbott Nutrition.”  At the time I’m writing this, it’s got 2,455 likes on Facebook. As of 2/10/13, it’s up to 18,327 likes.

similac night nurse nation screencap

Hmm.  What would Abbott/Similac’s interest be in getting friendly with night nurses? (As opposed to say, all nurses?  Or all Labor & Delivery nurses, or all Postpartum nurses?).

New parents tend to freak out at the thought of losing sleep with their newborns.  All it takes is a sweet night nurse coming in and saying, “you get your rest while you still can and let me take Junior to the nursery for the night. We’ll take wonderful care of him for you!”

BAM. The nurse may be well-intentioned (hey, she probably is!), but rooming in is best for breastfeeding. Babies need free access to the breast, especially in those crucial early days. It’s understandable that a nurse might want to give a newborn a bottle under the auspices of helping new parents rest. But as soon as the baby goes to the nursery for the night, the breastfeeding relationship has been interrupted.

When those nurses are on Facebook, looking for camaraderie with their fellow night nurses, they’ll find this Abbott/Similac-sponsored community.

Abbott/Similac then gets to filter the facts, news pieces, and opinions that these nurses encounter on their page. Being able to control that exposure puts the formula company at a major advantage.

They’re not extolling formula or trashing breastfeeding; they don’t have to.  They’re creating this lovely red herring to distract these nurses from the facts about formula. This is a pretty sophisticated tactic. Formula companies bankroll stuff like this because it’s good for their bottom line, period.

There’s a fox in the hen house and it’s funded by Abbott Labs.

NB: This post was originally published on my old site, Just West of Crunchy. It’s republished on amywest.co as of 2/4/13 and edited/updated 2/10/13. 

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Posted in: Activism AYFKM Breastfeeding JWOC (Best of Just West of Crunchy) Marketing Parenting PR Social Media

{ 69 comments… add one }

Leave comment love! Or hate. I’m equal-opportunity like that.

  • Theagallas August 23, 2011, 2:45 am

    It’s maddening that nurses who participate in this can’t or won’t see through it for what it is: a shameless fraud designed to sell product and build brand loyalty. It’s the babies who pay for it. Nurses and hospitals who participate in this nonsense are co-conspirators. They all ought to get brought up on RICO charges. Okay, that’s a bit much but this really makes me furious. 
    Thea Gallas

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  • Summer D February 11, 2011, 7:53 pm

    I love the email you got back from them. Unbelievable. I am pregnant with #3 and have breastfed for a total of 2 years. I plan on nursing this one for another 2 years. The hospital where we live now is not known for being the most breastfeeding friendly so I am a little apprehensive about giving birth in 4ish weeks.

    Thanks for this little tidbit to add to my arsenal.

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  • Not responsible January 27, 2011, 3:01 pm

    I’d love for some of you to work a 12 hour shift in a newborn nursery, dealing with the following issues: poor staffing (due to hospitals going broke because the majority of patients are on Medicaid & the reimbursements are PITIFUL), overly demanding patients (ex: “why won’t you bring my Grandma a Tylenol? You’re supposed to take care of the whole family during our experience!”), and being accused on a regular basis of being a “breastfeeding Nazi” or “pressuring someone to breastfeed when they have a RIGHT to formula feed”, and babies being born in poor health because of poor prenatal nutrition & horrible LIFELONG eating habits by these mothers! Gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, & obesity rates are skyrocketing. The babies born under these circumstances are typically poor feeders & it takes a tremendous amount of time to help them learn to breastfeed, and nurses don’t have that extra time. Also, there’s only so much you can do to inform & educate about breastfeeding when patients have family members encouraging them to give the baby a bottle & save their breasts for their man so he won’t leave! It happens ALL THE TIME in some cultures. It would be great if everyone breastfed, but in reality CULTURAL attitudes must change before nurses have a fighting chance. Also, the gov’t giving free formula (WIC) to moms is a HUGE killer of breastfeeding. I can’t count the number of moms who have told me “I don’t care if breastfeeding is free, so is my formula, I got WIC!” how are nurses supposed to fight that, and family members, and all ten million visitors who won’t leave? Patients are too worried about updating Facebook or watching Teen Mom to learn how to breastfeed! We have overindulged ourselves as a society & that is NOT the fault of hardworking nurses! How dare anyone blame nurses when the responsibility lies WITH THE PARENTS? This is one nurse who will not be taking the blame for other people’s poor decisions!

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    • Amy West January 27, 2011, 4:12 pm

      Nurses really have difficult jobs and I totally respect that. That’s why
      I’m not blaming them in this post, I’m blaming Similac. There are a lot of
      issues that contribute to poor breastfeeding rates, but breastfeeding
      initiation sabotaged in hospitals is a big one. I think it’s fair to
      discuss it.

      Amy

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  • Keshia January 23, 2011, 4:17 am

    I am in nursing school and just yesterday during our postpartum lecture the instructor said “Sleep is important for a new mom. Sometimes you just have to tell the mom that you’ll take the baby to the nursery for a bottle and let her sleep through a feeding. One bottle won’t hurt her supply. Then she won’t feel guilty.” Um, not! And she didn’t even mention nipple confusion. I am studying to become an IBCLC and I was disgusted at the amount of false information given on breastfeeding in nursing school.

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  • Morgan12888 January 8, 2011, 3:34 am

    I gave birth to two babies at two different hospitals. and at both hospitals we were treated great. infact my second birth my son wouldn’t latch right and the night nurse sat with me to help him latch better. of course i didnt fix it until my friend who is a doula told me that holding him right behind the head confuses and distracts him from nursing so simply putting a pillow on my lap to nurse in fix the matter.

    but i do think the nurses should be trained as laction consultants. it would of helped a lot that first night.

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  • Leasa_an January 8, 2011, 3:19 am

    I also recently read the thread on fb and the last few posts were from nurses who were having a discussion and posting information on what this means for breastfeeding.

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  • Barklessbrats January 8, 2011, 1:57 am

    I was unsuccessful in my attempts to breastfeed my first child. When I became pregnant for my second, I was determined to learn how to both breastfeed and get through labor and delivery more comfortably than before. I took Lamaze classes and attended LaLeche League meetings. I met with the hospital director and the chief of the pediactrics division and l&d and was granted permission to have rooming in, a first there, and have my Lamaze instructor who was an RN attend my delivery. This was back in 1970 and they were not allowing any labor coaches in the delivery rooms. My experience was totally positive, a beautiful labor and delivery and rooming-in experience. My son breastfed for 18 months and weaned himself. I hope the hospital is still honoring requests for rooming in, I’m pretty sure they now allow labor coaches and probably have birthing suites to boot!

    Anyhow, I truly think the rooming in helped with bonding and getting the breastfeeding off to a good start.

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    • Mama in the City January 8, 2011, 3:23 am

      Hi Barklessbrats,

      You will be happy to know that where I work we allow lots of support people in the room! Partners, doulas, mothers (sometimes fathers and father-in-laws!) Sometimes it is a tight squeeze to fit me in the room, but if everything is going well, we let multiple support people in the room!
      We also exclusively do single room maternity care and only sick babies go into a NICU. There is NO well baby nursery. Parents are expected to fully take care of their newborn with the support of a LDRP nurse for breastfeeding and 1 of their own support people is given a cot in their private room. Yeah!

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  • Empileee January 7, 2011, 11:58 pm

    Wow I this is quite scary!My son and I had a close call in great hospital. I was planning on having him in a birthcenter but he tried to make his entrance on the freeway and we had to be taken via ambulance. Anyways I was in a great hospital renowned for its breastfeeding support! And I must say the labor and delivery nurse were awesome! But and this is a big but our night nurse in perdiatrics was HORRIBLE! We had to stay an extra night to make sure my son didnt have strep b. So I was discharged and we were transferred to pediatriacs for my son. This stupid suuuuper old school nurse for some apparent reason was all of a sudden soo worried about my sons jaundice levels. Even though I later found out they were way below anything worrisome. My son pooped right after birth but hadnt again in 2 days so it was borderline high. BUt no one else had metioned it to be a problem. None of the dr or other nurses. But this nurse had to scare the crap out of us. Tell us he was not getting enough (even though he wet 12 diapers in 24 and gained and only lost 2% of his birth weight all things she knew) and that he was gonna have to be put under the lights. That we werent gonna get to go home. And that we NEEDED to give him formula. Oh wait did I mention all of this was happening at 2am. Being a first time mom I was scared and sleep deprived and would never want to hurt my baby. We almost went along with it but thankfully my amazing husband told her no. (thanks to an amazing birth class he knew we shouldnt do this) She totally reemed on him. Tols us we were being negligent. and that is her 30 years of nursing she had never seen parenting like this. Then she commented on the fact that we were gonna have him in a birthcenter and said we were extreme and must not care about our childs health. That nipple confusion was a myth. My hubby didnt back down and we went on and we got through the night. Next day baby pooped and had gained weight (which is almost unheard of at day 3…not getting enough my a$$) and jaundice levels were fine! It was shocking how little she knew about small babies. It really made me said. I don’t hate nurses at all I love them. I think it takes a special person to bea nrse but I think we need to teach them differently

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    • Amy West January 8, 2011, 1:06 am

      Wow, good for your husband! So awesome that he stood up to her on that. =D

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    • Smweers January 8, 2011, 2:53 pm

      Bravo to your husband. So sad that there are nurses out there like that.

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  • CharmedForce January 7, 2011, 11:52 pm

    I had a c/s with my firstborn last April at 4pm (35 wks gestation with possible IUGR). My husband went with him to the Special Care nursery while I went to recovery. At 6pm, after spending 30 minutes trying to convince my husband to allow formula (and after both parents AND our pediatrician said no formula, no bottle, no paci, documented in the chart), the nurse came to me in recovery, where I was disoriented from too much pain medication and throwing up nearly constantly from anesthesia and told me that my baby’s blood sugar was crashing and if I didn’t let them give formula, he would have brain damage and IT WOULD BE MY FAULT. In my drug-induced (and certainly not legally permissable) state, I allowed a single cup feeding. I was introduced to my baby for the first time around 8:30pm. We had a great breastfeeding experience. My son had to be brought back to the nursery to be monitored even though he was doing wonderfully. I didn’t see him for 12 hours, despite constant demands that I had to feed him. When I finally got him, he refused to latch and the nurse said I was upsetting him by trying to force him to BF. It turns out they were bottle feeding him all night, and even after I started pumping, I had doubts they were giving my colostrum to him. We caught the nurse giving formula with my expressed milk right next to her. We finally had to threaten legal for her violating the physician’s orders in the chart. She finally agreed to cup feed. Two hours later, at his next scheduled feed, she tried to cup feed but he ended up choking so bad he had to be bagged. But we didn’t know this – all we knew was that the nursery was closed and we couldn’t get the baby. It wasn’t until late that night that we got in and discovered what happened. Of course, the incident meant that the baby wasn’t allowed to cup feed anymore and therefore they had to bottle feed formula.

    I pumped exclusively for 8 weeks before my son was able to latch. At 9 months, he is still BFing, having received his first solids just two weeks ago. Thank god for my wonderful pediatrician and local LLL and AP group.

    Of course, another “helpful” nurse crammed several packs of formula into our bags as we left, “for when the milk dries up”.

    I am not surprised that formula companies have weaseled into hospitals through nursing staff. They are the “front lines” and the ones who have the most ability to sway a patient’s decision. It’s unfortunate that Similac and Enfamil are willing and able to donate more money and product to hospitals than Medela. I’d prefer to have Medela brands constantly thrown at me because at least it would be encouraging breastfeeding.

    I still think formula should only be allowed by prescription to encourage women to BF first and to limit the ability of naive and ignorant mothers to be sabotaged before attempting BF.

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  • StorkStories January 7, 2011, 9:48 pm

    Most excellent Amy! Love this!

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  • T Newton January 7, 2011, 7:59 pm

    This really ticks me off. Here is why. First, Seritonin is naturally giving to each individual by touch, which is only one reason why breastfeeding is important to reduce SIDS. Second, is I know that what little information they are taught here in Canada is so misinformed it’s unbelievable. I was welcomed to read my friend’s nursing book (I will have to ask her again for the title) she received from college (last year). It states in black and white that breastfeeding is nothing after 6 months. No nutrients, nothing, just magically turns to nothing. They are teaching them that there is no value in breastfeeding after 6 months, you don’t even give off immunities during breastfeeding after 6 months. Third, we have just became a closed minded society that thinks what man can do is better. We don’t look close enough to what nature intended. “We found low Seritonin, well we will make a synthetic version and play god!” When we all know chemical versions of anything is not absorbed well in the body, because the body does not know what to do with it. Let’s make people pay for something that our bodies can create anyways. We have to let the Big Pharma pay that mortgage bill, they also need a new car too.

    I am thinking about doing a PN course, and I feel really bad for the teacher I get when we get to that chapter. I want to be an IBCLC and have breastfed for almost 4 years, I want to help others achieve what I experience (for ever long they want). Just in the last two years I have had two friends give me adverts from their text material that the class is learning. It’s completely ridiculous and mind boggling how breastfeeding is undermined and they don’t realize they are doing harm.

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 11:40 pm

      I saw this posted on Facebook and I’m so glad you posted it here, too! This is really great info.

      “…breastfeeding is undermined and they don’t realize they are doing harm.” YES.

      I hope you do go on to be an IBCLC – you’d be awesome!!

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  • Courtney January 7, 2011, 7:41 pm

    When I read this I assumed Night Nurse meant the ones that mothers higher after giving birth. Not sure why! Anyway I am thankful for my ob,hospital and pediatrician because all have been extremely supportive in my journey with breastfeeding. Never was I offered formula (except in the take home stuff and they all said to donate it if I didn’t want it), never did they tell me that my already small baby needed more and even at 10 months old my pedi said she is doing great because the charts that many doctors use are for formula feed babies and not breastfeed babies. I am so thankful for all of this and sad to read that some nurses are prone to want to give formula.

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:42 pm

      Awesome that you had such informed providers!

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  • Sarah283724 January 7, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Question……shouldn’t there be some sort of requirement or law wherein the nurses or someone must ask these new moms when they take the newborns into the nursery at night “do you give permission for your baby to be formula fed? or are you breastfeeding?Do you understand that if we feed the baby formula during the night this will likely cause problems with successful breastfeeding?”
    Why is it that they are able to so easily feed these babies formula and not even get any ok or permission?DO these moms even KNOW their babies are being given formula?????? I don’t beleieve it is brought up or discussed AT ALL.
    That’s disturbing.It is a huge deal and really significant and important to moms and babies lives for the rest of their lives….so why is it not even given a mention by the nurses?
    When I had my son they brought him to the NICU for like 12 hours and now that I think about it……nothing was said to me at all about him eating or what I planned on doing.I’m sure in 12 hours they must have fed him formula-yet nothing was said whatsoever….not even telling me anything about what would happen in those hours with respect to him feeding.That mkes me incredibly pissed off!I don’t know why they wouldn’t let me go down and nurse him…..it was not by any means a critical situation-they were just watching him to make sure everything was alright b/c the cord was wrapped 3 times and he took a few seconds to take his first breath.Pisses me off-I was treated like a non-involved bystander or spectator through the whole thing once i transferred from the Alternative birthing center up to labor and delivery to get the epi at 9 1/2 cms! They were so impersonal and why would they give me an epi at 9.5 cms anyway ???? I later found out that’s a big no-no.After I got the epi all sorts of problems arose and you know it was very traumatic.I didn’t get to hold my son for 12 hours! which means I didn’t nurse him for 12 hours and that is a very painful thing even to this day it hurts me deeply.We went on to have very successful breastfeeding and I nursed him til 2 but my hospital experience was traumatic and haunting and it really angers me that the whole formula feeding to babies thing when they are with the nurses is not more of an issue.

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:44 pm

      I’m so sorry your birth was derailed like that and that you weren’t able to breastfeed right away or be more involved in his care!

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  • Sarah283724 January 7, 2011, 3:26 pm

    is there some way to share/post this on facebook? I’ve been sharing lots of breastfeeding/formula facts and news on my facebook page b/c I have a baby coming anytime now and I am very passionate about breastfeeding-trying to educate and inform and support…..

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:45 pm

      Yep! (And thanks for sharing it!) – just click the “Like” button at the bottom of the post (in the footer, you’ll see the Facebook ‘F’ logo). Once you “like” it, you can click “add a comment” and it will post the link and whatever you type in, on your wall. :)

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  • Heather Burris January 7, 2011, 1:08 pm

    I was happy to see that most of the posts had more to do with sleeping issues of the nurses, etc. I’m sure that’s what they’d use to defend themselves if anyone “attacked” them for this “alliance” so it doesn’t make me feel much better. :( Overall, this is just sad.

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  • Diana January 7, 2011, 5:51 am

    I just read this to my husband. We love it. I did a post today about how I’ve been pressured since DAY 1 with my daughter to give her formula. From an incorrect latch, reflux, and being on the small end of the non-WHO chart (which resulted in expensive and intrusive testing) – formula was brought up time and time again.
    We never supplemented, and I’m happy to say that we finally won a small victory when our Dr. started using the WHO chart for her.
    Thank you for posting this. Formula used in the right context can be a wonderful thing – a lifesaver. It’s too bad it’s becoming almost the opposite of what it was intended for.

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:46 pm

      I totally agree -under certain circumstances, formula is a wonderful thing!

      Glad they switched to the right charts and you got it figured out! :)

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  • Bolaji January 7, 2011, 5:11 am

    this is incredible, thanks for sharing. i no longer breastfeed, but both of my children aged 2.75 and 5.75 were breastfed until age 2. i had problems attaching my first daughter & didn’t realize that she was losing weight until she was weighed a few days after birth. the FIRST thing the night nurse suggested was formula. i was terrified because i thought it meant that i had “failed” at breastfeeding & that if my daughter was given the little cup of formula she wldn’t take the breast. i wasn’t told abt “cluster feeding” until the following day when nurse X, my favourite nurse explained to me that everything was fine & she wld work with me to ensure that my daughter was properly attached to the breast.

    she also confided to me that “some” night nurses are “notorious” for offering formula to frustrated first-time mothers at night due to the fact that night staffing is low, & it takes time, patience and practice to get it right.

    for me, it wasn’t the “lack of sleep” that made me acquience under pressure to giving my daughter a taste of formula in those early days, it was the implication that she wld go hungry if i waited to learn how to attach her properly. thankfully, there was a nurse who was able to support me & guide me through proper attachment. they do exist! cheers, xobolaji

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:47 pm

      The implication that babies will go hungry in the first couple days, before mama’s milk is in, is evidence of the poor (no!) breastfeeding training given to most health care providers. Here’s hoping things improve!

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  • Mama in the City January 7, 2011, 5:10 am

    While it is pretty outrageous that this is a possible tactic to market formula to new parents, not all hospitals are scary places where you need to constantly watch out for evil caregivers. I am so proud of the hospital that I work in as a LDRP nurse. The hospital has spent so much time educating all caregivers about breastfeeding through courses and workshops. There is no flogging of formula and it is only given out in medical conditions.

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:48 pm

      I totally agree! Unfortunately, though, most hospitals aren’t educating staff members on breastfeeding.

      I LOVE that yours is though! Hearing stories like yours gives me faith that things *are* improving!

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  • phdinparenting January 7, 2011, 4:59 am

    I’m not sure what to say, Amy. Thank you for exposing this. I am not at all surprised though. I continue to be disgusted by the lengths formula companies will go to. I am sharing the post along with warnings to moms to be VERY careful before handing their baby over to anyone at the hospital.

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:48 pm

      Thanks for sharing! Hopefully a lot of expecting parents will see this post and know to be cautious when their babies are out of their care in the hospital…

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  • Itsmonicaaaa January 7, 2011, 3:17 am

    I wish i didn’t have to “like” the page to comment.

    going to comment about how breastfeeding moms really dont get more sleep….we don’t have to wake alll the way up and take the extra time to make bottles!

    http://healthland.time.com/2010/11/08/breast-feed-or-formula-feed-in-terms-of-sleep-its-a-wash/

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 3:31 am

      Like the Night Nurse Nation page?

      I love that piece! Thanks for posting it (here & there!) :)

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  • lactcondoula January 7, 2011, 1:18 am

    And why are registered professional nurses feeding infants formula in the nursery at night? It takes a college degree and years of experience to do this? Not! the night nurses should be out on the floors helping the poor mothers who are struggling with breastfeeding.

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 1:32 am

      Since there’s not a lot (or really any) breastfeeding training given to health care professionals, most new moms wouldn’t *want* a nurse helping them.

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      • Lwaller_84 January 7, 2011, 5:34 am

        ive had 2 children in the last 2 years and both times the nurses were really helpful with my breast feeding both times i had different issues even the nurses from the nursery helped out if i asked a ? and as far as that goes the nurses in the peds unit were great with getting me what i needed to pump and stuff when my older cild was in the hospital overnight and the baby was soemwhere else. just sayin

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      • Annie Shultz January 7, 2011, 7:04 pm

        Amy & Lactcondoula ~ I have had 2 hospital births and my mom works in another hospital as a CNA / ward clerk. From my experience, it depends on the size of the hospital. At the large hospital I gave birth at, the nursery nurses were separate from the floor nurses. But everyone talks to each other so I can definitely still see how chumming up night nurses can be detrimental to breastfeeding.

        At my mom’s small town hospital, there is no lactation consultant. The only help you get there are the nurses. Period. And they are not trained to help with breastfeeding. at all. So even if a mom WANTS help with breastfeeding she won’t get very good ones.

        Let me say that nurses have very difficult jobs and I admire the heart they put into their job. I wish deep down that every single L&D nurse could be trained by a lactation consultant and that there was a LC at every single hospital.

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        • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:50 pm

          Nurses do have difficult jobs! I admire them, too.

          Hopefully, someday all L&D and maternity nurses WILL be trained in breastfeeding support! :)

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    • Sammom4k January 7, 2011, 1:49 am

      Most nurses, while in college, will show open disgust for breastfeeding. When they get on the floor, few are able to resist the “older, more experienced” nurses who hate breastfeeding. You cannot quantify (how much, how well), babies feed “too often” and other variables.

      Today’s nurses are typically women who have already given birth, and usually “breastfeeding didn’t work for me, and my baby turned out just fine!”

      Very sad, indeed.

      Sincerely,
      an RN IBCLC who has since left the birth field because of the disgusting attitude against breastfeeding

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      • Mama in the City January 7, 2011, 5:05 am

        Fortunately I have had the opposite experience in my career as a RN in maternity in regards to nurses and breastfeeding. Where I work, all nurses are so passionate about breastfeeding and are more likely to roll their eyes at formula feeders. You will be happy to know that there are RN in LDRP who enthusiastically promote breastfeeding and are willing to teach, educate and support.

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        • Annie Shultz January 7, 2011, 7:07 pm

          At my two hospitals within driving distance, there are only a few nurses that love and promote breastfeeding. I wish every hospital was like yours Heather. If I could create a breastfeeding instruction program for nurses I would! That is sooo needed!

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          • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:49 pm

            Ditto!

            Hearing Mama in the City’s response gives me faith that things are changing!

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            • Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com January 10, 2011, 2:33 am

              I think it must be changing. At the hospital where I delivered my baby, the nurses were militantly pro-breastfeeding. At the time, I thought they were over the top. Now I’m glad they were so forceful. I might have quit if they hadn’t been there harping on me and helping me out the whole time. As it was, I almost did.

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  • Dirty Diaper Laundry January 6, 2011, 11:08 pm

    NAK- Great job Amy. The tactics of formula companies disgust me.

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  • ccdn January 6, 2011, 10:27 pm

    I realize this is beside the point, but, better to keep the fury pointed at the company for formula sales practices than censorship. This isn’t censorship. The government censors. This is a company with financial interests protecting its page on a free website. That’s all. Don’t give it so much credit.

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 1:33 am

      I needed to note the censorship to explain why my original comment wasn’t quoted directly and isn’t available to view on their page. It was component of the post I can’t ignore, and I do think it’s important – because their censorship (what else would you call it?) of that comment led directly to their message to me admitting that there’s a liability issue when we’re talking formula and SIDS.

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  • Ashes January 6, 2011, 9:51 pm

    I had never heard of RestFull, but fucking yikes. I can see how it would be so tempting, as an exhausted new mom, to turn to something like that — and so heartbreaking if something happened afterwards. (Also: what’s in there that’s causing babies to feel full? Because I know I’m being paranoid, but I’d be worried about some sort of mild sedative.)

    Also, not to defend Similac, but they may have had to delete it because it wasn’t their brand; if they have a comment on their page pointing to a competitors product saying, “Then this likely aids SIDS death,” I could see Enfamil being a bit testy.That said, I can’t imagine that Enfamil can get all up in their business over a comment. I don’t know how law, libel, and Facebook comments come together, and if they do at all yet.

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    • Amy West January 7, 2011, 1:48 am

      RestFull’s not particularly new….just something I mentioned aside from the main point, that a formula company is acknowledging the tie between formula and SIDS. That’s a huge deal!

      I don’t know how law, libel, and Facebook come together yet, either, but I’d highly doubt that there’d be a case for Enfamil to come after Similac over a comment made by a user on their page (versus a comment from them directly).

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      • bhn January 7, 2011, 3:04 pm

        Re-publishing a libel (including by not deleting it from a webpage you control) is considered a fresh libel. So yes there would be a case.

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        • Amy West January 7, 2011, 7:51 pm

          Thanks! Didn’t know that.

          ETA: for what it’s worth, I don’t think my comment was libelous, though….it was just speculative. I don’t think it’d fall into the category of libel.

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          • bhn January 8, 2011, 3:53 pm

            Oh, I don’t think so either :) And I am not sure you can libel a product since a product is not a person. But assuming it was a libelous statement, there is a case for republishing. The Supreme Court of Canada is hearing a case right now on this very point. /lawgeek

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  • Mama Pear Designs January 6, 2011, 9:15 pm

    Thanks for putting this out there. When I first stumbled upon this Night Nurse program a few months back I was horrified, though not surprised. Formula companies recognize no boundaries when it comes to marketing.

    In my Lactation Education Counselor training my instructor, Gini Baker my instructor (you can view her list of credentials on her site http://www.breastfeeding-education.com) told us in a lecture that she was offered $250,000.00 a year by a formula company to become a “lactation educator” for them. Thankfully, she refused the offer. And given the number of people that she educates and trains every year in the field of lactation, I would say that she, as one person, can have a significant impact on a formula companies’ “bottom line”.

    She told us one other fact that I feel is worth mentioning. For all of the health professionals, counselors, or any other individuals who use a pen, nametag, pad of paper, etc. that bears a formula companies name/logo, that person is an unpaid advertiser for a company that makes approximately $23,000,000,000 a day. Yes, that is billions. Staggering to say the least.

    Thanks again for a great post!

    Reply Link
    • Amy West January 6, 2011, 9:34 pm

      Oh WOW. Those are some big numbers. It helps give weight to them to type out all the zeros!

      I’m not at all surprised that they’d try to convert high profile people in lactation over to their side. That’s what they need….to convince all LCs that Similac is the best brand, “for when you have to supplement.” OY.

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  • Bettina at BestforBabes January 6, 2011, 8:32 pm

    Yay, I’m going to go right over there and leave a comment that breastfeeding lowers the risk of SIDS by 30-50%. Therefore, aggressively promoting formula to health care professionals, moms and the population is extremely unethical, and creating barriers that make it difficult for moms to breastfeed is even more unethical. So there.

    Reply Link
    • Amy West January 6, 2011, 9:23 pm

      Wonder how soon they’ll delete it!

      Reply Link
      • Allison January 7, 2011, 12:57 am

        Just checked again. Her post on the wall is gone now, but her reply to the “Doctors may have finally found out what causes SIDS.” thread is still up.

        Reply Link
  • Diba Tillery January 6, 2011, 8:30 pm

    Since our hospital is a Texas 10 Step Facility, the formula companies are trying hard to keep their foot in the door anyway they can. The Similac rep came and gave all the night nurses info about this Night Nurse Nation FB page. Am I missing something here: shouldn’t nurses be taking care of patients and not on FB?
    I agree that more healthcare professionals need to be informed and support breastfeeding. Even as hard as we have worked to transition old school mentality when it comes to feeding a newborn, we are constantly met with challenges. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel, however (at least for the staff at my facility). It takes some time to retrain ourselves from old, bad habits and procedures, but I have high hopes that with baby-friendly initiatives and evidence-based education, our nurses will transition to a breastfeeding-friendly mentality. I know my views have changed greatly in the past 5 years. I am now preparing to become an IBCLC…something that I didn’t even think about 5 years ago. There is hope and speaking from personal experience, [most] nurses really do want the very best for their patients. That’s the whole reason we (most of us anyway) became nurses.
    Now, I do think formula has a time and place. I support moms and their feeding decisions. Although I highly encourage breastfeeding, I also support those moms who want to feed formula for some reason or another (i.e. medical conditions, etc)…this is not my decision to make. It’s about supporting, encouraging and empowering moms to make the best educated decision for their family.

    Reply Link
    • Amy West January 6, 2011, 8:34 pm

      Oh WOW. Thanks for sharing this! They’re being really aggressive in going after this segment, then.

      Love that where you’re at is a 10 Step facility. And I agree, most of these nurses really are well-intentioned (so I tried not to focus on them or be too hard on them).

      I support informed feeding choices, too, regardless of what they are. :)

      Reply Link
      • JulesNC January 7, 2011, 4:40 am

        As another RN, also want to mention the role of hospital administration in these “relationships”. Floor nurses don’t decide who gets to stock the supply room, nor which reps get access to their floors. Nurses (all, not just those in administration themselves) do need to become more vocal in the policies that affect our patients and ourselves no doubt, but administration (and physicians ordered “standing order sets” that allow/encourage supplementation) don’t help either. Nurses aren’t stupid (as a general rule at least) they understand that the reps have an agenda. Almost everyone does in healthcare, sad as that is! Thanks for the interesting post!

        Reply Link
        • Amy West January 7, 2011, 4:47 am

          I totally agree that hospital administrations are the first and fastest way to get formula out of the maternity departments- no doubt! And standing orders for supplementation can be really tough to work around. Given that there’s no formal training in breastfeeding, I’m not sure that most nurses even would know that there’s a problem with those orders, though (the doctors certainly don’t seem to see the issue, either).

          But, my issue with this is that 2500+ (presumably) RNs like this page…that’s squarely on them.

          Reply Link
  • Anne Tegtmeier January 6, 2011, 8:13 pm

    WOW. And heh! Did you resolve to be the #1 rabble rouser of the interwebz in 2011 or what??

    And another wow: I went to the NNN page and checked out that post. It FLOORS me that one of the responses – presumably (I realize I’m presuming) from a Night Nurse – was this: “If this is true could we test them as newborns? Maybe at the same time as the newborn screening?” and then another person responded: “I agree, if we could add a newborn screening test for serotonin, then that may help save lives every year! Then those “at risk” babies could be monitored more closely!”

    Headdesk, jawfloor, facepalm.

    I have a whole lot to say on the topic of “baby nurses” in general, perhaps I’ll save it for the blog. Suffice it to say we covered it in DONA’s PPD training, and about why we are very different from baby/night nurses, even when doing overnight shifts, and talked about some of the risks of using such services.

    Reply Link
    • Amy West January 6, 2011, 8:22 pm

      Seriously! LOL

      Yeah, those were my reactions, too (headdesk, jawfloor, facepalm). I tried not to be too hard on nurses in the post, but COME ON.

      Keep in mind that these aren’t “baby nurses” – they are RNs working the night shift at hospitals!

      Reply Link
      • Amy Willa January 7, 2011, 5:36 pm

        I know, right? That was my reaction to the whole kit and caboodle. head-desk, facepalm, jaw to the floor.

        Then I read the piece about “then why don’t we screen them for seretonin levels!” I was like gah . . . . poke the infants a little more why don’t you?

        unbelievable what tactics formula companies are using these days to get their products into the lives of babies that DON’T NEED FORMULA – and then the reaction of the nurses (trained medical professionals, here) is “hey lets add another painful prick at birth” instead of helping babies get a good start in life by supporting breastfeeding. It KILLS me.

        Reply Link
        • Kristinawithak February 12, 2011, 8:35 pm

          Well, in their (very mild) defense, it wouldn’t be another pinprick if they did it at the same time/ on the same test as the PKU.

          However, from my understanding of Seratonin, the levels fluctuate based on external factors! Taking a blood sample of Seratonin at birth as about as likely to help identify at-risk children as checking to see how often they blinked 8 hours after birth.

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  • Judy Masucci January 6, 2011, 8:10 pm

    WOW!! Great post!

    Reply Link
  • Jaimie LeaderGoodale January 6, 2011, 7:38 pm

    Hmm – I wonder if similar has a “restfull” variant in the works and are working to prevent future liabilities.

    Either way – IMO (and i know you agree) ALL health care professionals should be leery of associating with anything sponsored by major companies, be it formula, pharmaceuticals etc…

    Reply Link
    • Wendy Armbruster Bell January 7, 2011, 5:38 am

      You could be onto something Jaimie…. time will tell!

      Reply Link
    • Smweers January 8, 2011, 2:50 pm

      I complained at our hospital (which is notoriously not breastfeeding friendly and hardly any baby gets out without a supplement at some point) about the formula reps coming on the floor and getting chummy with the nurses. They are not supposed to come up now but they do sneak up when the manager is not around. They put fliers for coupons etc up, which I threw away when I came on. It’s so frustrating. The nurses will wear badges, use pens and other products from the companies which says to the patients ” I support formula feeding”. It all should be banned. They also offer “educational” conferences at local area high dollar restaurants. GGRRRRr.

      Reply Link

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