Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Would You Do?

I received the following letter from a customer, and I want to know what you think One Hot Mama should do -- continue to accept our little cache of free American Baby magazines or not? FYI, I will try to get something from Mothering for our hot mamas!

I recently ordered a nursing tank from your store. The tank is great, but the magazine (American Baby) you included was quite offensive. While the magazine contains a pretty good article on breastfeeding, the magazine is littered with formula and bottle advertisements. I was greeted with a huge two-page formula commercial spread (pages 2 and 3). I'm very saddened that you may have sent this magazine to other pregnant women or moms, especially when women are bombared with formula and bottle advertisement constantly and receive little, if any encouragement to breastfeed. Even the magazine's birth information is demeaning to a woman and her birth experience. As an example, the magazine's definition of an episiotomy: "Howto say this without scaring you? Sometimes even 10 centimeters is not enough, and the doctor, um, makes a little cut to help the baby through. You'll be too out of it to care." I assumed from your large selection of nursing clothing that you support breastfeeding. If so, please stop giving out free magazines that completely undermine breastfeeding. The formula companies have enough money to do that on their own.
Thanks, A Concerned Customer

Dear CC:

Your letter made me feel slightly ill!!

Let me explain – I so get your well-made points and I am distressed that American Baby is parrotting all that old misinformation. I years ago stopped reading Parenting and Parents, and, if you check our front page (http://www.onehotmama.com/index.asp) you’ll see that we provide a very prominent link to Mothering, which I think should be required reading for every pregnant woman. I hadn’t read AB or Baby Talk in ages, as my youngest are 3 ½ years old and it’s really time I stopped having babies, and all those adorable pix melt my weak resolve.

I have four kids, and nursed the first two for around 2 years each, and my subsequent twins for three (it’s really tricky to wean two toddlers!). I would like nothing more than to gift my customers with copies of Mothering, and while your letter has reminded me to dash a hopeful note off to Peggy O’Mara [their editor], the fact is that a parenting magazine that does not get the bulk of its ad money from formula companies (whose only expenses other than marketing are for curds and whey, apparently) doesn’t have the budget to dole out extra copies. They did used to have postcards good for a free issue, however, so I’ll see what’s happened to that program.

We receive around 30 copies of the magazine every month and put them in less than 5% of our outgoing orders. It’s my understanding that the publishers send extras to doctors offices and stores all around the country. Even my pediatrician, the amazingly dedicated-to-breastfeeding-support Paul Fleiss, has free copies of Baby Talk in his waiting room. I get your point that we should be completely divorced from such mags, but the fact is that they not only have HUGE circulations, but that, sadly, they are reflecting what the majority of American women hear from doctors and friends and television. My hope is that all the writing that’s on our site, on my blog, and our appearances on television (the only naturally-birthed, breastfed, cloth-diapered twins on TLC!) will counteract that mainstream crap (excuse my language, but it is!).

In the meantime, our husband-and-wife business does support those four kids in Southern California, so we have branched out to maternity wear for women who are like me before I became a mother, who have no clue there’s an alternative. Perhaps they’ll like our clothes, be intrigued by our message, and slowly realize that formula is like a prosthetic leg – great if we need one, but no-one’s first choice. If you need further proof of our bona fides, check out the Baby Bargains book, where they said something about us having a great site, “if you could ignore their lecturing about breastfeeding.” There’s a badge of honour I’ll proudly wear! They are drawn in by mainstream magazines, and then hear our message.

Thanks for speaking your mind. I welcome dialogue with our mamas, and in fact will post this exchange on my blog (omitting your name, of course) because it’s important to remember that all we read is not right or helpful. If you have any questions, please email or call.

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