Friday, August 27, 2010

Medela wants you to pump and "share the magic"

Usually I fall on the side of treating Twitter like an online cocktail party. I breeze in and breeze out at my leisure, joining in conversations where I can and following links when I have time. It's not a place I get into arguments or even champion a cause.

Yesterday, that changed. Someone, a company, rather, made me really angry.

I expect for formula companies to advertise, cajole, twist information, and outright lie to sell more of their product. It's something that they had to create a false market to sell because while is serves a purpose in some cases, it's not a necessity for most families, and it certainly isn't the best choice most of the time.

However, Medela is a company that makes some really great products for breastfeeding mamas. Their hydrogel pads were absolute lifesavers for me with my first child. I spend the extra two dollars on their breast pads because I think they are that much better than the other brand. I even like their lanolin better than the traditional purple tube. It's no Earth Mama Nipple Butter, but it's good stuff nonetheless.

I own two Medela pumps, a double something or another and a Swing pump. I even rented the Symphony for the first two months of breastfeeding when I had supply issues after following some terrible advice from our former pediatrician.

Last night, when I logged into Twitter for a quick peek, imagine my surprise when I saw this:

I had to read it three times before I could believe it. It was followed shortly by another tweet that they claimed to be a "correction."

The correction was the addition of the word "breastmilk" to their statement. Nevermind the complete absurdity of the rest of the statement.

Pumping breastmilk is freaking hard work. It takes a ridiculous amount of extra time and effort. Working mamas who pump in order to keep breastfeeding their babies after returning to the work force are among the women I admire most in life. Breast pumps are a fabulous invention that allow women to keep giving their babies the best nourishment they can, even when they can or choose not to be there themselves.

But the fact is, that while breastmilk is best for babies, the breast is the best and most normal way to give it to them. Mamas who have the privilege to exclusively breastfeed (and yes, in our society, it is most certainly a privilege), should NEVER be encouraged to pump out their milk, thereby screwing with the balance of their supply, just to allow "others to share in the magic" of baby feeding.

Aren't mamas doing enough work in this world? After making the decision to breastfeed her child, committing to the process, fighting the learning curve, dodging the booby traps, and creating a successful breastfeeding relationship with her nursling, THEN they are supposed to feel guilty about not "sharing the magic" of feeding her baby with the rest of the world?

Is there any choice that mamas make for their babies that someone isn't going to infuse with guilt?

Medela isn't alone in offering this craptastic piece of advice. At Colin's four month visit to the pediatrician, the hand out I received on development and what not also said that I should begin pumping to allow others to bond with the baby through feeding him. I had a PA student working with us that day, and she got an earful about how to support breastfeeding mamas and how this was NOT a good way to do that.

Any piece of advice that takes a baby away from the mama's breast is NOT advice that is supportive of breastfeeding.

Could we all say that together, please?

ANY piece of advice that takes a baby away from the mama's breast is NOT advice that is supportive of breastfeeding.

What makes me so angry about Medela's actions here is that I expected so much more from them. Their advice, if followed, leads to the purchase of more of their products. Their advice doesn't support breastfeeding, it supports the market of breastfeeding accessories.

When will I learn that companies, no matter what they preach and what their mission says, are always out to make a profit?

I am so disappointed, but sadly, not really that surprised.

Medela did send this out to Twitter:

And while I'm glad they felt led to apologize, it always makes me raise an eyebrow when someone apologizes for a "miscommunication" because when I do it, what I really mean is, "I'm sorry you didn't agree with what I said," not "I'm sorry I said something stupid."

They also sent me a direct message with an apology and asked if they could do anything. I don't know. I have been known to hold a stiff grudge and usually am pretty black and white about stuff like this.

That's not the plan this time. I think that overall, Medela is still a good company with good products. Maybe it was let-the-intern-tweet day or something like that.

I just hope that in the future, when they are considering marketing strategies, they rely more on the good reputation and quality of their products instead of dishing out reasons to buy them thinly veiled in horrible advice.