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Countering Formula Give-Away Bags

Susan Brown
St. Joseph MO USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 6, December 2002 - January 2003, p. 139.

Recently, our local Group was looking for a way to increase breastfeeding awareness in our community and the free formula gift bags given to new mothers at our local hospital was a concern. In response, we came up with a "breastfeeding gift bag." A free bag would be given away at the hospital to each new breastfeeding mother containing information about our Group, breastfeeding in general, and free samples.

First, our Group called the hospital to see if they would distribute the bags. To our surprise, they refused, saying they already gave out too many "freebies." We then called the local obstetricians’ office and they immediately agreed. Luckily, our community only has one hospital and one obstetricians’ office. We could still reach almost every delivering mother in the community. Giving them the bags early in the pregnancy also meant they could come to our meetings sooner.

We obtained half of the first year’s funding from our local hospital foundation and half from a Missouri Area La Leche League "Image and Outreach" grant. Next year we plan to fund the bags ourselves by charging companies to be included in the bags or with local advertising. The bags also can be modified to include mostly free information so we can easily pay for it out of the Group Treasury. We included items such as Lansinoh Brand Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers® samples, promotional magnets, and tear-off sheets (see sidebar for more ideas). Some were free, while for others we paid a minimal amount or shipping charges. The Lansinoh brand samples that we use include the LLLI tear-off sheets "Breastfeeding Makes a Difference" and "Are Your Nipples Sore?" The refrigerator magnet we include features the LLLI logo along with our Group’s local help number and Web site address. By using 9 x 12 envelopes in place of the LLLI logo plastic bags and leaving out the magnet, the "breastfeeding gift bags" can be less expensive.

Each month I order the items and take them to our meeting. After the meeting, we all pitch in to fill the give-away bags and stamp the contents with our local help numbers. I deliver nearly one hundred bags: most to the obstetricians’ office and some to the childbirth educator at the hospital who distributes them to the couples who attend her pre-natal childbirth classes.

The results have been fantastic! We started delivering the gift bags in January 2001 and since then our phone helping, Group attendance, membership, and book and breast pump sales have all increased. We have helped start a new Group in a neighboring community and are now considering splitting our Group into two meetings. Since we see the nurses and doctors at the obstetricians’ office and the hospital every month, our relationship has improved and they are directing more and more mothers to us.

Editor’s note: Because policies and procedures differ between LLL entities, please be sure to check with your LLL support person before beginning an activity such as a "breastfeeding gift bag" program.

Low-Cost Items for a "Breastfeeding Gift Bag"

Item: LLLI Logo plastic bags
Contact: 847-519-9585(LLLI)

Item: LLLI Catalogue
Contact: 847-519-9585(LLLI)

Item: A Mother’s Love (brochure)
Contact: 847-519-9585(LLLI)

Item: Group Meeting Notice
Contact: Have printed at local copy store or create on a personal computer

Item: Magnet with LLL Group contact information
Contact: Buy magnet at local store and create contact information on personal computer

Item: Lansinoh brand ointment samples and nursing pad samples
Contact: 800-292-4794 (Lansinoh)

Item: Medela breastmilk bags
Contact: 800-435-8316 (Medela)

Item: Medela Pump-In-Style brochure
Contact: 800-435-8316 (Medela)

Item: Motherwear Catalogue
Contact: 800-950-2500 (Motherwear)

Item: Expressiva Nursingwear Catalogue
Contact: 877-933-9773 (Expressiva)

Pre-assembled "breastfeeding gift bags" are available at a low cost from Rowan Tree Project. Call 717-227-1225 or write singingtree at prodigy.net (email) for more information.

Susan Brown is a Leader with the St. Joseph Group in Missouri, USA. She has been a Leader since 1999. Deborah Wirtel is retiring as Contributing Editor for this column. The Leaven staff would like to thank Deborah for her dedication to providing interesting and timely articles on "Managing the Group." You can send your articles or ideas to EditorLV at llli.org (email).

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