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4,068 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For those who have already read this the changes come after the qoute. I am going to include the AAP's statements regarding how pedi's are supposed to support bfing ie. *not* advertising formula
among other major things.

Thanks everyone for your input. I still may change a few things. I am so busy with the babe I have to work on it real quick like here and there. I want to mail it by next Monday so I should have time to get it just right. Keep the suggestions coming!

Dear Corvallis Clinic Administrators,

I recently brought my daughter in to the Corvallis Clinic to see Dr. Wong for her two month well baby visit. During my 10 minute wait in the waiting area I viewed 3 formula advertisements. One was a "toy" that was displayed at the check in desk. There were also two tablets of literature with coupons attached lying next to the parenting magazines. I am well aware that formula companies benefit from women who are unable to breastfeed (due to lack of support and information) or who wean prematurely. Formula companies also benefit by pediatrician's offices displaying their items throughout the office. It is our children who suffer. What I am saddened by is that I didn't see anything that supported or celebrated breastfeeding.

As a breastfeeding mother I would love to see the Corvallis Clinic have literature supporting breastfeeding, in the form of posters and brochures, displayed in the office. In an effort to support the healthy feeding of infants I believe it would be beneficial to keep the formula coupons in a drawer and give them to moms who are already exclusively formula feeding. When pediatricians' offices make formula feeding appear normal it does a great disservice to babies.

Le Leche League International supported me through the rough early days of breastfeeding. I was fortunate to find them during those trying times. A pediatrician's office would be a wonderful place to display a pamphlet from LLL. You can contact them at 541-766-0055 and they would be more than happy to aid your physician's in supporting breastfeeding mothers.

I fully understand the importance of formula, but it is not the normal or natural way to feed infants. Babies were born to be breastfed. I feel it is the duty of our babies' pediatricians to make breastfeeding appear to be the normal and natural way to nurture our babies. I am hoping that the clinic can adopt a more pro-breastfeeding philosophy in the future.

The American Academy of Family Physicians sums up nicely the main point of my letter and so I will quote their website here:

"Current attitudes concerning infant nutrition have been molded by the manufacturers of human milk substitutes who have aggressively created markets for their products. They have advertised to physicians and directly to the public in ways that are inconsistent with the International Code of Marketing for Human Milk Substitutes (see Appendix 3).115 While much of the literature about breastfeeding distributed by formula companies is factual, omissions and images can mislead mothers, reinforce misconceptions about breastfeeding, and suggest that breastfeeding mothers also need to use formula. Physicians have been used to convey this advertising and encourage brand loyalty through "free" literature and formula samples.48 Use of commercial literature and samples has been demonstrated to decrease breastfeeding rates and increase premature weaning.112"

Dr. Wong and other CC pediatricians have supported my breastfeeding efforts. What I cannot understand is how the CC can take a stand supporting breastfeeding and advertise for formula companies at the same time. It is completely contradictory. I have included some current position statements from the AAP regarding breastfeeding. They clearly back up everything I have addressed in this letter.
I sincerely hope my letter is not viewed as fanatical. I know that there is no money to be made by promoting breastfeeding and that my "case" against giant formula companies appears to be very small. However, my true interest is the health of tiny, defenseless infants. They need their doctor's to support their mothers in giving them their god given right to human milk.

I look forward to hearing back from you regarding ways you may support breastfeeding parents.


Lindsay Baker

6,952 Posts
This letter is excellent. I found two typos: it should be La Leche League and there should not be an apostrophe in "your physicians". I would never mention a typo on a web board, but since you will be sending this as postal mail, I thought you would like to know.

1,696 Posts
PLEASE do not add this part:

I sincerely hope my letter is not viewed as fanatical. I know that there is no money to be made by promoting breastfeeding and that my "case" against giant formula companies appears to be very small.
This is an absolute no no is a formal letter of complaint. Never belittle yourself, or even suggest such a thing.

I know you don't want to be as blunt as I suggested, but I stand behind the format I suggested - it is a standard format for a proper letter of complaint.

I'll copy another person's suggestion of a letter below. This is from a professional writer: (so you can see that the format I originally suggested is not unique to me - it is standard)

<<One good format for letters like this is:

First paragraph: I am writing to tell you how upset I am that xyz [one
sentence total, or maximum two]

Second paragraph: What happened -- plain vanilla version, just the one
paragraph, up to four sentences. But in this case probably you can do it in
one, which is way better. "My sister and I visited your store when she was
six weeks post partum, and the formula company Mead-Johnson tells us that
they got her name, which they used to market formula to her directly, from
your mailing list."

Stuff not to include here -- about yourselves (tough breastfeeding history,
what you care about, your personal values) -- just distracts them from the
problem, which is what THEY did!

Third paragraph: Why this is awful. Again, brief. Allow yourself, say,
one sentence per annoying aspect of their actions. "Customers should be able
to rely on confidentiality from you, and it makes us angry that you sold our
names without getting our permission. It especially makes us angry because
studies have shown that when mother get free formula in the mail, their
breastfed children end up weaned to formula sooner, and that means that when
you sell breastfeeding mothers names to formula manufacterers you are
indirectly responsible for the worsened health and happiness of all those
mothers and babies."

Again -- this isn't about YOU, your problems, etc etc. It's about THEM and
THEIR bad actions. No lobbying, no websites, no vilification of the formula
manufacturers. If you are in the United STates mentioning the WHO Code
essentially guarantees that no one will pay any attention to your specific
problem, so even if you are thinking globally, in this letter confine
yourself to acting locally. And if it's longer than four sentences all
together it is certainly not going to be absorbed -- and even four is pushing

Fourth and FINAL paragraph: What you want them to do about it. Maybe two
sentences here. Maybe, "I hope this was a brief error on your part, and
that you will be able to reassure me that your company cares about its
customers confidentiality, and their health. Please call me at [your
number] (or write, or whatever) to tell me what steps you are taking to be
sure this kind of appaling disregard for us will not happen again."

In this last paragraph be really, really specific. Do you want them never
t sell your name? without asking? only to formula manufacturers? etc.
They may or may not do what you want, but they can't ever do it unless they
know just what it is. If one of your goals is to make them learn about why
bf is good, put it here. "I hope you will educate yourself with some of the
enclosed articles to learn why you have an obligation not to undermine the
breastfeeding relationships of your customers." But only if you think
learning will make a difference -- if you think that something else will make
more of a difference than hit that instead. "My sister is shocked that you
would attack her breastfeeding relationship, and unless we hear in the next
week that you are no longer going to sell names to formula manufacterers we
will consult with our lawyers to learn what remedies etc etc." Well, that
one is pushing it, surely; but the point is that it is specific.>>

Here's another version:

1) Start by praising the person you have come to criticize for whatever you
> can legitimately praise them for -- no lies, but stretch yourself!.
> 2) Next bring the problems with what they did that you don't like -- but
> don't focus on their having done it, just on the problems. What they did is
> water under the bridge now; your job is to persuade them for next time.
> 3) Starting here, and for the rest of the letter, put them and yourself
> together in the category of "we," rather than standing apart from them as
> "you" vs "me." Nobody takes advice from enemies.
> 4) End by imagining the situation you would prefer.
> Here's an example.
> "Dear Hospital Flunky," [obviously don't write this in your letter, but it
> does feel good to write it in private!]
> "Thanks for responding to my letter about the free formula our hospital gave
> to So & So. I want to assure you that I am confident that this gift was
> given in good faith. and with good intentions. . . [That's #1]
> "But even with those good intentions, there's a lot of research that shows
> that the good health choice to bf a baby is easily undermined by the ready
> availability of formula. I'm attaching a couple of those studies, in which
> you can see that mothers who were perfectly confident about their bf at the
> time of discharge nevertheless weaned earlier if they got gifts of free
> formula. And we know what the results of that earlier weaning are for their
> babies: ..... [That's #2]
> "Even though the mother may have felt at first that she has gotten a great
> present from us, in the long term the only one who will benefit from our
> having given out formula is the formula company, which has used us to
> persuade one more mother that switching bf to artificial feeding is a
> predictable step, one that she will take soon, and well before the first
> birthday that the AAP recommends as a minimum term of bf. Otherwise she
> wouldn't need that formula at all. [That's more of #2, and #3]
> "I hope in the future that our good will toward mothers can be expressed with
> a gift that will not only please them when they receive it, but also
> contribute to their health and their baby's health over the longer term -- or
> at least not undermine it." [That's #4]
> If any of this helps, feel free to steal it or emend it at will! (Not just
> Mary, either -- this is a blanket permission to all and sundry...)
> E. U.
> who writes editorial letters all day for a living...

so now I'll go ahead and post what I included in my newsletter about writing letters of complaint (this is from a Business Communications Textbook):

How to Write a Letter of Complaint:

The Complaint Letter
When things go wrong, you need to make a complaint. Sometimes you can simply deal with the problem in person or over the phone. But you often put yourself in a better position when you write a letter: your message will not be interrupted, and you will have a written record of your complaint.

The purpose of the letter of complaint is not to blow off steam. The best complaint letters do not sound complaining. That statement may sound contradictory, but its not. If you write a letter that reflects only your annoyance and anger, you may not be taken seriously - you may simply appear petty and irrational. Instead, you need to explain the problem and ask for a solution. In fact, the less whiny your letter sounds, the more likely you are to get a positive response from your reader. Remember, too, that the person who receives your letter may not be the one who was directly responsible for the situation about which you are complaining. Venting your anger at someone who was not at fault is neither fair nor useful. Most organizations are happy to get customer feedback because they want to provide quality products and services.

An effective complaint letter - a letter that accomplishes its purpose - should be both firm and well thought out. It should assume, first, that the recipient will be conscientious in correcting the problem. Second, it should indicate that the writer is capable of handling the situation calmly. Finally, the letter should convey that you expect the situation to be corrected.

Although the circumstances and the severity of the problem may vary, effective complaint letters should generally follow the same pattern. You need to produce evidence that a problem exists and that your reader has a responsibility to address the problem. Include facts about the following:

1 The Transaction Note where, when, and how you purchased the product or received the service. Include photocopies of any evidence such as receipt, canceled check, or warranty.
2 The ProblemBe specific about what is wrong and any inconvenience the problem is causing. Explain logically, clearly and specifically what went wrong. (Avoid expressing an opinion of why you think some problem occurred if you have no way of knowing)
3 Attempted SolutionsIf you have already tried to solve the problem, explain what you did and who you talked to.
4 The SolutionExplain what action you want the reader to take to solve the problem to your satisfaction - a refund, a change in policy, or an apology.

Note:In most cases, you will want to state the problem clearly in the first paragraph, following with the explanation and details. However, if you are uncertain about the reader's response and feel that you need to be very persuasive, you may want to build up to the problem by providing complete background information first.

Large organizations often have special departments, with such names as "Customer Relations" or "Consumer Affairs," to handle complaints. If you address your letter to one of these departments, it should reach someone in the company who can be of help to you. In smaller organizations, you might write to a vice-president in charge of sales or of service. For very small businesses, write directly to the owner. As a last resort, you may find that a complaint letter photocopied and sent to more that one person in a company will get fast results. Each employee receiving the letter knows (because of the carbon-copy notation) that others, possibly higher in the organization, have received the letter and will take note of whether or not the problem has been solved.

Remember: Be Complete, Clear and Courteous.

4,068 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the complimants everyone. Thanks for pointing out the typos CO.

Janice, I will omit the suggested sentences. I didn't have time yet to read your entire post. I can tell you are knowledgable on the subject of letter writing/writing in general, so I will take the time to be sure my letter is in the proper format you sre suggesting prior to mailing it.

Thanks again everyone


1,696 Posts

I hope you realize I'm not trying to nag you - I know that alot of other moms are following this thread, so I thought I'd give them the information, too, in case they want to write a letter in the future.

I absolutely know how difficult it is to do this when you have little children. That's why I wanted to supply examples, and I'm sorry I didn't do this right off the start - that's why I apologized for being tired and distracted in my first post in this thread!

Even if you aren't able to make any changes, sending your letter as-is, is still an incredible and wonderful statement in support of breastfeeding.

BTW, you could even write one letter to the office, but personally cc each of the partners to make sure they read it.

And you should cc your letter to your local LLL, local or state breastfeeding coalition, local dept of health, etc. Its great to cc your local breastfeeding support organizations - they need to know that there are individual mothers out there who support this, and are working too. Many of the people on these committees have worked on these issues for years, and it is an incredible boast to their energy to know that "regular moms" are "getting it" now, and joining the fight.

Bravo to you, mom - whatever you decide to do with the letter - make sure you send it!


4,068 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I never felt like you were naggin me! Earlier I was nursing my daughter and couldn't get all the words in there I wanted, but I felt compelled to reply because you have all been so great with your advice. I brought my letter here because I want it to be as close to perfect as possible - and I knew this was the place to make that happen!

I feel so lucky that I found MDC because I get such awesome information and support here!

I *love*
the idea about ccing the seperate ped's and other bfing advocates in my area! I will definately do that!

I sincerely mean it when I say you will not offend me by offering your expertise! I will take and leave what I feel best fits my situation.


4,068 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Originally Posted by Greaseball
I don't go to Corvallis clinic; I go to Samaritan Health Physicians, but just wanted to see how things went.
I am mailing the letter next Monday. That will give me some baby free time this weekend to get it sounding just as I want (and collect addresses to those I want cc a copy to). M-F Kylie is on me and over the weekend dh can hold her for awhile
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