About 6 weeks after giving birth to Emmett, I reached another pregnancy/parenthood milestone: getting my first free can of infant formula in the mail. I was beginning to think that I'd somehow managed to stay off the radar of the formula companies. At least one person in the childbirth/parenting classes I'd attended mentioned having received free formula during her pregnancy, so I knew that this sort of thing happened to moms, but it hadn't happened to us. I'd steered clear of many of the "sign up for big bargains" marketing tools in part because my junk mail situation is already a bit unbearable.
I wouldn't have been surprised to get a packet-sized sample of formula, but what I received was a 12.5 oz can of formula. I can't think of any other product where I've gotten a free sample in that large of an amount without having done anything specific to request it. I am certainly not worried about these companies going out of business if they can give away their products in these amounts.
I asked some of the other moms in a breastfeeding group I attend whether this had happened to them and it was a common occurrence. It was One woman said she'd received three cans of free formula. Another one said, "it seems like they prey upon you at any weak moment." Maybe that's what's going on here. I kept wondering which of my actions triggered the "send formula" button--was it that I finally redeemed the coupon for the free subscription to Parents magazine? (Maybe not, I'd done that a while ago.) Was it my enrollment in the Babies R Us rewards program? (Perhaps, but I did that even before giving my address to Parents Magazine.) Is the store Destination Maternity somehow caught up in that? (I seem to recall giving them some personal info when I bought a nursing bra recently.) Could it just be the fact that I gave birth in a hospital? (But...but...the hospital was doing such a good job of promoting breastfeeding!)
I sort of think that maybe the deciding factor was that I'd quite recently purchased a breast pump. Maybe the formula companies thought that the suckiness of pumping would make me into a formula convert?
Shortly before having Emmett, I was reading a book (fictional) called The Wet Nurse's Tale and that book really made me appreciate the existence of things like infant formula...but I have to admit to being a bit creeped out by the aggressiveness of the marketing.