I vividly recall how exciting it was to be given that pack when I was expecting my first baby 21 years ago and there was some useful info in there and sample goodies that came in handy. Being a clueless first time mum I didn't see the irony in the samples of formula milk and weaning foods subsequent packs contained. I was grateful for the sample of baby rice, that I dutifully gave my baby at twelve weeks of age, because that's what you did back then, together with the hungry baby formula and then of course the follow on milk from six months. What else were you to do when breastfeeding didn't work?
Of course I can't blame this entirely on Bounty packs and a tightening of regulations now means that packs cannot contain these samples, but the gradual undermining of breastfeeding and pushing of products continues to this day.
Bounty has received rather a lot of bad press lately for the preying on vulnerable mothers on the postnatal ward. You can read about it here.
Now in all fairness, I have never encountered a truly pushy Bounty lady. We did have pictures taken of baby number 1,3,4 and 9. The rest were either home births or we went home so fast that we missed the famous Bounty Lady. And the pictures are lovely, if over priced. We got two for Markus, as they were buy one get one free and we thought, hey he's our last and they have come out really well. The lady taking them was very professional and courteous, so again, no complaints there. I was also pleasantly surprised by the contents of the baby and mother pack. It was actually useful! Being an experienced mother I just ignored all the advertising that comes with it.
However, what I forgot was the inevitable barrage of e-mails I would receive following this. Again I mostly ignore them, or at the best skim read, which is what I did today to the one entitled My baby this week - your three week old.
Now putting aside the fact that Markus is only 15 days old today (get your facts straight, Bounty!) what completely and utterly left me speechless was the topic of the e-mail, entitled Sweet Dreams?
It starts like this....
Advice on helping your baby to sleep.
If you're struggling without sleep, read our guide tosleep and your baby .
The link takes you through to the Bounty Family Sleep Clinic which proceeds to give a detailed breakdown of the controlled crying method of sleep training and the gradual withdrawal method.
Still with me? Remember the age baby that e-mail is aimed at?
There are no warnings on that page that this should not be attempted with a newborn and clearly breastfeeding is not taken into account either. Dad can do night feeds. Make sure mum wears earplugs so she cannot hear baby cry. Putting aside the fact that crying is a late hunger cue and recommendations are that baby ought to sleep in the parent's room for the first six months to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - so how could any mum possibly sleep through this! - this is aimed at mothers of three week old babies.
Let's suppose a sleep deprived mother would actually try to implement this. After all if it is recommended on the Bounty website, then it has to be ok, right?
What could happen? Apart from traumatising mother and baby, disrupting their bond and causing harm to baby's brain by prolonged crying, there is a very real danger of malnourishment. Some babies will sleep through at this point. My eldest did from three weeks of age, but it is a rare baby that does. Most babies will need the nourishment of night feeds for many more months to come.
Take our very own Markus for instance. He has yet to regain his birth weight and he feeds lots at night and cluster nursing in the evenings is an absolute must for him. If, heaven forbid, I tried to sleep train him, he would end up in hospital and my milk supply would go up the creek without a paddle.
So I am outraged that Bounty could send such an e-mail aimed at mothers at such an early stage of their newborn's development. Especially as there is no mention of safe co-sleeping or any other method of managing those early, exhausting weeks.
Incidentally we co-sleep and whilst I am tired - after all I gave birth only two weeks ago - I am certainly not exhausted!
So shame on you Bounty!
I have sent them an e-mail to complain and time will tell whether they will respond and at the very least put a warning on that page.
Suffice to say, I will not be getting any further Bounty packs. Useless to me anyway, as we do not use disposables or mushy baby food, prams, cots, mobiles, sleeping bags, follow on milk, dummies or whatever else the latest must have craze for babies is seen to be.
As far as this mum of nine is concerned, babies need love, mummy's milk, a good sling and generous supply of cloth nappies and clothes and that is it!