Booby Traps Series: Results from our formula gifts survey! Check out the trends we found in your answers.

This is the 60th post in a series on Booby Traps, made possible by the generous support of Motherlove Herbal Company.

Recently we asked you to share your experience with formula “gift bags” on our survey.  We thank the over 3,000 of you who completed the survey!

The results have been fascinating, and we’re happy to share them here.  Please bear in mind that these results are from an informal survey, not a scientific study.

We received responses from mothers living in every state in the U.S.,* with the highest number coming from California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Florida, Illinois, Virginia, Michigan, and Indiana.

Over 85% of you responded for births which occurred in 2010, 2011, and 2012.  This indicates that the information you shared about formula gift bags is fairly current.

To share the rest of the results, I’ve created the pie charts below, and added comments where I think they’re useful.

30% of respondents said that they were offered a formula gift bag at their obstetrician’s office.  A number of respondents also left comments saying that they’d been offered a bag at their prenatal introductory appointments at their pediatrician’s offices, and a few said that they’d been offered one at their childbirth classes.

Has this number been going up or down?  I looked at the results from nearly four years of births, from 2009 through 2012, and saw a slight downward trend:

  • 2009:  33% offered bag prenatally
  • 2010:  31% offered bag prenatally
  • 2011:  28% offered bag prenatally
  • 2012:  29% offered bag prenatally

63% of those who were offered a bag prenatally were offered a bag once, and 23% were offered one twice.  14% were offered a bag three or more times.

57% of respondents were offered a bag at their hospital or birth center.  Several respondents left comments reporting that they received a bag during their hospital tours.  4% of respondents did not birth in a hospital or birth center, a number which is significantly higher than the national rate.

Again, I looked at the results from nearly four years of births, from 2009 through 2012, and here I found a clear and steep downward trend:

  • 2009:  75% offered a bag in the hospital
  • 2010:  67% offered a bag in the hospital
  • 2011:  56% offered a bag in the hospital
  • 2012:  47% offered a bag in the hospital

16% of respondents said that they were offered a bag at their pediatrician or family practitioner’s office..

Again, I looked at the results from nearly four years of births, from 2009 through 2012:

  • 2009:  17% offered a bag at pediatrician/family practice office
  • 2010:  15% offered a bag at pediatrician/family practice office
  • 2011:  16% offered a bag at pediatrician/family practice office
  • 2012:  14% offered a bag at pediatrician/family practice office

Of those respondents who were offered a bag at their pediatrician or family practitioner’s office, 58% said they were offered a bag once; 42% said they were offered a bag two or more times.

Please note that this chart doesn’t do a good job of reflecting percentages of responses because mothers chose as many answers as applied.  See the percentages below for a more accurate depiction of the response.

70% of respondents reported that they received formula samples in the mail when they had not requested them, and 41% said that they were offered free samples through email or another online communication.  4% were offered a bag at an ultrasound clinic.

7% were offered bags in other places.  A number of respondents reported that they were offered gift bags at Motherhood Maternity or another maternity clothing store, and many stated that they received samples in the mail after making a purchase at such a store.

Several respondents said that they were offered bags at their postpartum appointment with their obstetrician, which we hadn’t included as an option.

Again, I looked at the results from nearly four years of births, from 2009 through 2012 and saw a clear trend here:

  • 2009:  83% were mailed formula samples or received online offers
  • 2010:  74% were mailed formula samples or received online offers
  • 2011:  70% were mailed formula samples or received online offers
  • 2012:  64% were mailed formula samples or received online offers

Thank you to everyone who responded to this survey!  We’re planning more surveys on different topics, and hope you’ll participate.  Your experience is very valuable in helping identify and fight the barriers which prevent us from reaching our breastfeeding goals. 

* Respondents indicating that they did not birth in the U.S. were not allowed to continue with the survey.



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6 Comments | Last revised on 11/05/2012


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6 Responses to Booby Traps Series: Results from our formula gifts survey! Check out the trends we found in your answers.

  1. Hillary says:

    I must tell you the formula gift bags are a huge problem, no doubt. However, what concerns me more is about the “baby/breastfeeding” friendly hospitals. The one that I delivered my youngest at 10 months ago was filled with truly unsupportive nurses who pushed supplementation from day 1. The night nurses being the WORST offenders. I actually had to get nasty a couple of times to get them to back off. It was truly a nightmare for me. I find that scary because being a 2nd time mom who successfully breastfed my oldest 10 years before for 16 months, I knew how to handle myself. There is no way most 1st timers would make it through.

    • Lizette says:

      Agreed! The nurses at the hospital are always saying to only feed every 3 hours and not to use the breast as a paci… in the mean time they say they are breast friendly but dont understand it at all and never have real advice. At the first sign of trouble, along comes the bottle!!

  2. margo says:

    I am a peer counselor at wic and I agree the doctors and nurses undermine moms ability to breastfeed all the time…Either by giving free formula(which moms feel compelled to use) or suggesting supplementing at the smallest sign of trouble…They make my job so much harder by giving out the wrong information…It would be preferable that they give out no information at all, if the wrong info. is given…The majority of moms do not need all these external objects (pumps,shields,ect) to breast feed…It just makes moms feel inadequate when they are offered all of these things to “help” them breastfeed…Breastfeeding is not rocket science, women have been breastfeeding thousands of years with only the assistance and knowledge of the other women in their family…I feel like the medical professionals that moms come in contact with during and after their pregnancy are the most influential in their breastfeeding decisions.(especially young moms)Our young mothers are the easiest to influence, because they are looking to us for guidance…They are willing to accept whatever guidance they receive(good or bad)…So extra breastfeeding training given to our nurses and doctors would substantially improve the health of our future children and the benefits will far outweigh any immediate cost that is spent.(the savings in Medicaid alone would by far outweigh any cost spent on training…

  3. Delia Mary Carvalho,R.N. IBCLC says:

    I have ben a nurse that started working in L&D back in 1979 ,and back then we handed many more bags from the formula companies than they do today. I have to agree that the worse nurses are evening nurses for not being breastfeeding friendly. I also believe and have seen that the breastfeeding support begins early in the pregnancy at each of the O.B. visits and continues immediateoy after delivery with help from nursing staff,O.B. physician,pediatrician and lactation consultant. We as health proffesionals need to do the most that we can to promote breastfeeding and help our Mom’s offer our babies the gift of good health and good life. We have to STOP supporting formula compnies by handing out gift bags and formula in the hospital.

  4. Pingback: Booby Traps Series: Direct-to-mom formula marketing, or "How did all that formula end up on my doorstep?" | Best for BabesBest for Babes

  5. Pingback: The WHO Code | Peggy O'Mara

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