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Subliminal Messages from Formula Coupons

What is the real message behind this formula coupon?

This is not the first time this has happened to me, more like the hundredth. But for some reason I am fuming this time, I must have hit my limit of bullshit.

The coupon that I received for buying breast milk bags

I quickly run in to Walgreens to pick up some breast milk storage bags and the formula coupon prints out. I am sure this happens to all moms. In fact, I KNOW it happens to everyone who buys a baby item. It isn’t just Walgreens but all stores that have that formula coupon print-out.

Hand pumping while waiting for my kids to get home.

You might be wondering what the big deal is; if you don’t need it, don’t use it. Well I don’t need it and I won’t. I am not all moms. I was lucky to not fall into the trap of explicative advertising. Let’s take a minute and think about whose hands they want that coupon to fall into.

Imagine you are a first time mom. You haven’t slept in 8 weeks, you just returned back to work after a horribly short maternity leave. Not only are you tired because you are a mom but now you have to pump before work, three times at work and the car ride home. You are afraid your baby won’t have enough to make it through the week. It seems like she is eating twice as much as she should be but that is only because her new care giver is not doing paced feedings. What is pace feeding? And those night feedings? Oh you love the time but working on 4 hours of sleep just isn’t gonna cut it. 

Now you stop at your local Walgreens in a hurry so you can get home, run in and get your breast milk storage bags and when you pay, you get this $8 off formula coupon. You know what it is saying to you? Not save $8 but rather, “Buy me, you won’t have to spend all that time pumping anymore, formula babies sleep way longer than breastfed. You know you want that sleep. Gone will be the worry of her getting enough milk because you will know how much is going in. It is so fast and easy. Just mix it all up in a bottle. You are already washing them anyway.”

And that is it. That mom who wanted to give her baby the best start, just fell into the trap; the “horrible formula advertising” trap. This isn’t the only way they do it either. A few months back, Twitter was in uproar when a formula company stated that when you are sick, the best thing to do was to formula feed. That way your baby won’t get sick. That statement is an outright LIE. If you are breastfeeding and sick, please, PLEASE keep nursing. Your amazing body will make the antibodies so your little one won’t get as sick or even sick at all. But if you are just getting started and don’t have all the information and support you need, you don’t know any better. Or how about the supplementing formula? It’s just another advertising play on words. Still the same formula. Different packaging.

Now I know Walgreens knows I have never bought formula, or anything related since I have their rewards card. You know the one where big brother tracks your every purchase? Target is the same. Last night I received a coupon for a juice I normally buy but didn’t buy last night. This leads us to the real bad guy: the company who runs the coupons. I’m sure the formula company has told them that anyone who buys breastfeeding supplies should get this.

If I had gone in and bought formula, yes please give me a coupon. Formula is so expensive and thankfully we have formula for those who need it. But you know the coupon I should have gotten? One for a breastfeeding related item, like the bags or nursing pads. Sadly this is just one element that holds mothers back, and this needs to change. We need to make this change.

Now to that mom who is exhausted, don’t quit on your worst day. There are better one to come. Pumping adds a whole extra level to breastfeeding which is hard enough on some days. I admire moms who have to pump all the time, it is so much more work then anything else. I also recognize the need and use of formula, this isn’t about that. It’s about the message.

It is only one of the many reasons I have the “I’m the Pacifier” campaign. We need to normalize breastfeeding, to educate everyone on the importance of breastfeeding. So every mom has the information and the support needed to succeed at nursing. Join in on the fight with us.

Learn more about what we are doing to normalize breastfeeding at imthepacifier.com

Does this happen to you too? Do you get just as upset? Share this post and help us get the word out. Then tell us your breastfeeding story here! #ImThePacifier

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