Last week, I received an e-mail, asking me to join in and sign the petition, that is being brought against Bounty, who provide sample packs, and take photos of newborns, on maternity wards up and down the country.
From what I can work out, having read a few articles, blogs and opinions on social media, the ladies that work for Bounty, in some hospitals have overstepped their mark, harassed and hassled new mothers, personal contact details have been passed on to marketing companies, and a lot of Mum’s have felt that they were vulnerable, tired, and hormonal after giving birth, and didn’t need to have to deal with, in what some cases sales person, trying to get them to pay for photos of their baby, at a time when they didn’t feel ready to make a decision about such things. Many mums felt they weren’t made aware that their personal details would be given to other 3rd parties, and felt that that sales tactics for the newborn photos were beyond what was acceptable. Also, there have been some families, who have sadly lost their baby, ether during or after birth, or are dealing with the stress and anxiety of a very sick baby, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, who have felt that the Bounty representative was something that didn’t help them, and made their situation worse, in the middle of a traumatic time for them. Having worked as a nurse, with families of very sick babies and children, I can see where this would be an issue. In a stressful, and emotional situation like that, you don’t need to be harassed to buy photos of your very sick baby, or be filling in forms for samples when you don’t even know if you will be taking your baby home with you.
There is a campaign, led by Mumsnet, to have Bounty services removed from Maternity Units across the UK, to stop women feeling like they are under pressure, to buy photos or give their details to a company, shortly after they have given birth.
I do understand where some women are coming from, because I remember feeling tired, sore, anxious and vulnerable after I had given birth, and the first time round, after Big Girl’s birth, I was unwell, recovering from some fairly serious surgery, a blood transfusion, and was on a rather scary cocktail of medications and bed ridden. I was not up for dealing with even well meaning visiting friends, much less someone wanting to take photos of my newborn. To be fair, the Bounty Representative for our maternity unit didn’t visit me until 3 days after Big Girl was born, because she had been told that I wasn’t well, and was recovering, and she came, after my midwife checked with me, that I was fine to speak to her. She was lovely and very sympathetic, brought me a cup of tea (I could barely walk) and chatted to me for a good half an hour. When I told her that my friend was doing all of our baby photos (as a professional photographer) she didn’t pester me, and she left me with my pack, and even popped back the next day to see how I was doing. Second time round, I wasn’t so unwell, and it was a different lady who came round, but again, she accepted when I refused the photos, and was polite, and chatty, admired the New Born Small Boy and left me with my pack, with no problems. I didn’t feel pressured or harassed.
I do however, think that it is unnecessary for women to have to deal with strangers trying to sell them stuff, when they have just had a baby, and it isn’t acceptable for personal details to be sent on to 3rd parties without explicit permission.
I personally, found some of the information and samples in the Bounty pack quite handy, and some of the vouchers were useful. I did get a little bit annoyed that the week Big Girl turned 6 months, a pack from a formula company arrived in the mail with “ideas on weaning your baby” etc. in it when I was still breastfeeding and had no intention of stopping, at that point (formula companies are not allowed to market to mothers of infants under six months, in the UK) and did wonder if it had been sent via my details going to Bounty, but I threw it away and thought nothing more of it. Bounty have not attempted to improve the practice of their representatives, despite many complaints, and the staff on maternity wards are busy, and overstretched as it is, and don’t have time to monitor an outside agent, working amongst them so, the situation continues, with some mothers feeling very unhappy, and some liking the Bounty packs and visit, and others like me, feeling fairly neutral. Bounty, also is paid by the Tax and Inland Revenue organisation to dispense various forms and information related to Child Benefit and other payments some families may be entitled, too, so most parents want to take the pack, simply for that information. I personally think this is wrong, despite my neutral feelings on the whole Bounty pack thing. These forms could be easily given to families as part of their discharge from hospital paperwork, by the midwife, or given to them by their health visitor, during the post partum visit every mother should receive after she goes home with her baby.
Part of me is enraged that vulnerable women have been taken advantage of, at such a vulnerable time, and part of me quite like the Bounty pack, and found it useful.
Is there a way for information and resources, vouchers and the various documents to be given to parents on an “as wanted basis”. I don’t remember being asked if I wanted the Bounty representative to come round, until she actually came. Should I have been asked when I was admitted to hospital in labour? I can’t actually remember that bit at all, or what the protocol should have been? Should Bounty be made to tighten up it’s practice, not be paid to distribute the government forms, and the photography aspect be removed entirely?
Should Bounty be banned from all hospitals or should they continue to be allowed to do what they do?
I am not sure whether to sign the petition or not, right now….
I’d love to hear what other Mums (and Dads too) think about the whole Bounty issue?
As usual very good reading with my breakfast. Personally I had no negative experience of bounty. When I had my little girl they did come around. We declined the pics and that was that. The second time when I had my boy it was a sunday and bounty were nowhere to be seen. I like you did get slightly irritated by the weaning leaflet that came through my door and I did get contacted when my first was about 4 months to see if id take part in an early weaning trial of which I declined. To be honest my beef is with netmums well all of these forums that encourage people to guilt you into a particular belief. For example, One day its only use organic products and food because anything else is poisoning your child (I do buy the best I can afford, sometimes this is organic sometimes not) these guilts like the latest bounty are bad just serve to confuse and upset mums further. We have entered a world as parents where we feel constant pressure to keep up with the Jone’s. I do see how bounty’s approach can seem and in some cases probably is pressurising but to tarnish them all with the same brush is slightly unfair. I feel these forums who make us feel like bad parents if we don’t agree with their thinking are as bad as the marketing companies themselves. I know these forums are a great source of support to many mums and indeed I have posted the odd question and used a rival site to find local activities myself. Does that make me a hypocrite? Probably. Sorry for the rant Karen and excuse the spelling and grammar mistakes. I am after all a sleep deprived, emotional mother of 2 smalls xx
I didn’t have a negative experience with Bounty at all. The fact that they had the forethought to take a photo of Grace was welcomed when I was just too knackered, they were kind and friendly and didn’t outstay their welcome. I wonder what sort of employment contract these people have? Commission only basis? And maybe Bounty should vet their reps more carefully!
I don’t have any negative experience either. With my three the Bounty packs were left by my bedside on the ward when they knew the bed was about to be occupied and the midwife asked me if I wanted a photographer, which I declined. So I did not even see a Bounty rep. at all during my stay. I know the bags contain mostly advertising but I don’t mind that, advertising is something that is in your face on a daily basis whether you’ve had a baby or not.
I can understand that some new mother’s would be upset by hassling shortly after giving birth, but maybe it would be more acceptable all around if all hospitals adopted the policies that my maternity hospital does.
I didn’t have a negative experience with Bounty either….In fact with my first when I was a new mum the lady was a great help and a great support to me….
Just popping back to say that I will share for PoCoLo x
I have come across the bounty reps on two occasions, I have been lucky to have had two extremely nice ladies who both had children. My first bounty lady came across genuine and happy that this was my first child. I declined the photographs and there was no issue, it was like telling a friend that I didn’t fancy a cup of tea and there was no issue. I actually found the bounty lady a welcomed distraction as the ward was busy and there didn’t seem to be much interaction from the hospital staff. I told my husband about the lady and he thought it was a nice idea to have our little one photographed professionally. I asked for the bounty lady to return and she did. I now have the most beautiful pics of my little girl. She was very careful with her and she got the pictures fairly quickly with several poses to choose from the sales side if you could call it that was painless too. She showed us our offers and we couldn’t decide which to choose and I was feeling a little tired. SHE suggested that I can choose at home when I am ready and even if you change your mind that’s ok too, but not to forget that there is a free gift to choose regardless. Which we did and they are lovely. I think mumsnet need to take stock and accept that we don’t all have the same train of thought and it’s ok to have a different opinion about things.
Hi, I work for Bounty as a rep/photographer. I can’t speak for all bounty staff, but personally speaking, I’m absolutely scrupulous to behave ethically when I’m on the ward. I never interrupt a sleeping mum, a feeding mum, a mum dealing with medical staff or a mum with visitors. I always check it’s okay to approach them, I ask if it’s convenient to leave a pack, do they mind if I update bounty’s records, would they be interested in some photographs, I respond to a no with ‘thank you for your time, lovely to meet you and all the best’. I don’t push or cajole. If I take photos, I explain the offers, give them literature and explain they can order at the bedside or online and I always make sure to process their free photos whether they order or not.
It’s a privilege to meet these mums and their babies at this special time in their lives and I’d be mortified to think I ever caused any one of them any upset!
Laura, do you get paid hourly or is it commission only?
More importantly, do you explain to the women that you want to take their details to sell to third parties so they can spam them?
I can’t believe the bounty rep was able to pull back my curtain and approach me with no knowledge what state I was in and at a time when my own mother was only allowed to visit for 2 hours a day despite my 2 day old baby being in special care. Should I give her credit that she left straight away and didn’t try and hard sell to me when I said ‘i haven’t even got my baby, just GO AWAY’
I only felt able to do so because I had read about them on mumsnet. Otherwise I would have assumed it was another physio/anaesthetist/student midwife/dinner lady in the never ending parade of bed visitors. When are you supposed to actually get some bloody rest after giving birth??