If you’ve not been on social media much recently, you might not be aware of the hoo-ha that’s going on with Bounty reps and photographing newborns in hospitals. Mumsnet have started the Bounty Mutiny (cool name), and there’re various petitions you can sign, or not.
If you know nothing about Bounty, they work in partnership with hospitals and midwives to provide pregnant women and new mums with Bounty packs – essentially goody bags of coupons, samples and leaflets, plus some reading material to provide guidance and answer questions that upcoming and new parents might have. They have a website that you can sign up to, to receive offers and direct marketing, plus advice throughout pregnancy and beyond. They also (which is usually a total surprise to first time parents as no one warns you in advance), send reps into hospitals to get new mums to sign up to their database and take photos of newborn babies for parents to then hopefully buy.
It’s the last point – the photography, that petitioners are up in arms about. And the fact that Bounty pay hospitals for access to these new mums and their data.
For me, I’d already signed up to Bounty (and every other parenting club going). I have a junk mail email address, so I can just delete any newsletters I don’t want to read, but I’m happy to receive something for free. Who doesn’t want to get money off vouchers and free information and advice if it can be useful to know? It did drive me insane that even once N was born, Bounty’s database seemed to have their databases a bit skewed, as I was still getting pregnancy emails despite having updated my profile with N’s birthdate.
I also didn’t have a ‘bad’ experience with the photographer who turned up at my bedside a day after N was born. Mind you, apart from being induced on a drip for 13 hours, then ending up with a csection, I had an easy experience in hospital, so my head and emotions were fine. Every person in hospital has a different experience and might not want to be approached by a sales rep.
The woman turned up with camera, said she was from Bounty and here to take N’s picture. I didn’t really question it, just thought ‘that’s a nice idea even though I’d already taken lots’. Put a blanket down and him on it. Looking back, it is a bit of a weird thing for some random woman to come in and start rearranging your new baby on a bed to take a photo but at the time I wasn’t too worried about it. She did moan at me for only having a white blanket, and him being in a white babygrow – I just replied that we didn’t know the sex so why wouldn’t I have white. The photo was taken, it was a pretty scrumply rubbish photo of a newborn. She tried to sell me the photos, I said no and that was that.
I got given my newborn baby pack (I’m seriously feeling like I missed out compared to some of the packs I’ve heard about – just a couple of nappy samples, lots of leaflets and some coupons, I don’t even think the birth registration form was in the pack as it usually is) and didn’t think anything more of it. All very harmless.
But it seems that there’s been quite a few incidences where more vulnerable new mums who’ve gone through traumatic births, and even some who’ve lost their baby, have been approached by hard sales reps. These are the occasions where there needs to be some changes.
I don’t have an issue with Bounty paying hospitals. If there’s an easy way for a hospital to make some extra cash, and if there are benefits to patients either with the product that is provided, or with the money made being used in a suitable way, then it’s a no brainer. However, it seems there needs to be some changes.
Expectant mothers need to be informed in advance that Bounty reps may be on ward. They should be able to write into their birth plans whether they want to see anyone outside of family or friends. Once on the ward, the Bounty reps should be finding out before turning up at a bed whether it is suitable or not. This would mean something extra for midwives to have to deal with, unless there was a an easy system in place (on name boards or on bay doors) which would mean reps would have to think and notice whether they were welcome or not. An opt in might be better, and it would also give mums who missed the Bounty reps coming round and would have liked photos, the chance to have some taken.
I’ve heard some people argue that hospitals aren’t where photographing newborns should be taking place, that if parents want newborn photos then they should organising photo shoots by normal means. But I’m someone who’d never have thought about getting N photographed at an early stage:
a) Unless you know of someone who’s a photographer or have seen a friend who’s had similar photos, why would it even cross your mind once you’re home and frantically trying to look after a newborn baby? Yes there is a Cherubs scheme which we did and is a great idea. Cost me £25 then the 3 free photos a different ages, although I did buy more on top. But I heard about this when N was 3-4 months old so a bit late for a newborn photo really. None of my NCT friends had heard of it either, so the marketing is fairly limited and you need to go searching if you want newborn photos taken by other people.
b) It costs money – not everyone can afford or wants to pay to have photos taken, in hospital, you’re not really doing much while you’re there (especially if you’re in for a few days) and it doesn’t cost you anything to have the photos taken
c) Time and feasibility. I’d had a csection so wasn’t able to drive for weeks and having a photographer come into your home or get to them would have been a nightmare. Plus trying to sort out a suitable time when baby would be awake. 5 minutes in hospital (if that) worked fine for me.
Funnily enough, although I refused to buy my photos, a year later when I was ordering photos online through an offer I had, I noticed that Snapfish had somehow pulled through my Bounty photos (presumably at the time they were doing the printing for them?). Miraculously, both the shots were there in my account, so I ended up getting them free through my offer anyway.
It seems that everyone has a view on Bounty and their photography on the wards, so are you for or against?