The poster that Mrs McInnes was hoping to display was that of a mother breastfeeding her newborn baby, and cradling him in her arms. The posters did have text promoting Mrs McInnes business known as “Breastmates” which is an online store specializing in breastfeeding products. The web address is http://www.breastmates.co.nz/
Frances was initially approached by a Plunket staff member who asked her to submit samples of promotional material which if accepted could then be distributed to nationwide centres. A Plunket Business Manager then wrote a letter declining Frances’ request to display her Breastmates company posters, stating that “our current policy is not to allow display of any materials related to breastfeeding.”
When asked how she felt about this decision, Mrs McInnes replied “At first I thought it was because they didn’t like the photo. Sure it might not be to everyone’s taste and most mothers I know don’t feed their baby when they are both naked -but it does clearly depict a breastfeeding mother and child in a gentle moment.”
Frances said that she could understand Plunket not wanting to promote any material related to bottle feeding and formula, as the World Health Organization code has very stringent conditions for marketing of infant formula products. However the Breastmates business that Frances operates does not sell any infant formula, the product range is entirely made up of products related to breastfeeding and breast milk such as breast pumps, breastfeeding clothing, maternity lingerie and breast pads.
Mrs McInnes admits that displaying her posters throughout Plunket would have been very good advertising for her website breastmates.co.nz, however suggests that the products and service she offers can help mothers to enjoy breastfeeding, and often breastfeed their baby for longer.
After making some enquiries, it turns out that the Plunket Business Manager does not want to display any marketing material related to any retail breastfeeding products, it is not solely due to Breastmates or the breastfeeding image used by Breastmates.
This week is Plunket’s annual fundraising appeal – but don’t expect your Plunket nurse to give you any advice when you need some special breastfeeding products or service.