Recently, the online website Mumsnet has begun a campaign to stop marketing representatives from accessing new mothers.
As it currently stands, many maternity wards have agreements with Bounty, a marketing group, that seeks to send advertising to mothers. They do this in two distinct stages. The first is by offering a series of “Bounty Bags”, which contain special offers and discounts relating to mother care products. These will be given to you by your midwife and picked up at a pharmacy of your choosing respectively. The second is to interact directly with new mothers soon after birth to offer further free samples and documents. This includes information on child benefits, which is a government contract that Bounty has. They also offer to photograph the new mother and baby, which is where Bounty makes a great deal of their money. The recent campaign to bar them from maternity wards has gained a lot of attention, and the online petition currently stands at 16,000 signatures, suggesting that this is an issue many parents feel strongly about.
It seems counter intuitive to many that the NHS, which bars all other forms of advertising from other practitioners and services, would allow companies to access women during what should be a personal and private time. Many complaints about conduct have led to the petition, most likely relating to the fact that representatives are paid on commission, so please read below if you would like some advice relating to this service.
The Facts on Bounty Representatives
- Bounty representatives are not associated with the NHS and are not qualified in childcare. They are not qualified to give you advice, nor should they attempt to without your permission.
- There is no uniform for a Bounty representative and some mothers have noted that they wear similar clothing and identity badges as official NHS staff, making them hard to distinguish.
- The photographs they offer are voluntary and they are not required for any kind of security purposes.
- You are not required to give any of your details. If you do give your details, they will not be used by the NHS but instead will be sold to 3rd parties for marketing purposes. You are also not required to give your details in order to receive your pack.
- The only item in the pack that you need to receive is information about government child benefits, everything else is optional. It’s worth noting that the documents are also available to download online.
- The samples and offers in the Bounty bags have been decided by which companies are willing to pay the most. They are not a true representation of all the services and products available to mothers.
- The advice in their booklet on where to give birth, only mentions hospitals and birth centres. The law says that you should also be offered the choice of a home birth, and more and more mothers are choosing this option as the safest and most natural place to give birth, so this booklet is not complying with this requirement.
If You Have No Wish to Deal with a Bounty Rep
In “The Hypnobirthing Book”, I cover how useful phrases can help you get the birth you desire when interacting with medical officials. These tactics can also be helpful when dealing with this marketing onwards. Many parents have stated that, in their encounters with Bounty, the representatives were happy to leave once they were asked. However there are a few occasions where these phrases may be helpful:
“I need some time to think about it.”
“I’m afraid I shall have to regard any further discussion as harassment”
Communicate that you understand that it’s important you receive information about the government child benefits but that you are not interested in any other services if this is the case. If you feel that you are being harassed then you can lodge an official complaint with your hospital. You can also complain through Bounty itself by calling: 0800 316 934.
As with everything else in birth, hypnobirthing seeks to empower you to make the best choice for you and for your baby. Remember that you have just become a mother, one of the most influential forces in our society, so taking control of your comfort and the comfort of your newborn is your absolute right.