UK Hospitals Allow Salespeople to Target Mothers Minutes After BirthS

The Telegraph reports on a new birth trend: being subjected to the disgraceful marketing strategies of sales representatives who pay British hospitals for access to new mothers, whom they hope to take advantage of for profit. Sometimes the salespeople will begin badgering new parents mere minutes after birth. So much for respect for the miracle of life and motherhood.

According to the report, nearly 150 National Health Services hospitals permit sales representatives to have access to new mothers. Sales firms will pay from 30p (around 50 cents) to £5.50 (about $8.60) per infant — bargain! — for the opportunity to pester and attempt to exploit new mothers. Because the best kind of customer is one who's exhausted, disoriented, and oftentimes in pain after going through, oh, you know, FUCKING CHILDBIRTH, a process that that involves pushing a small human's head and body out of yourself.

Bounty, one of the companies that pays NHS hospitals for access, also pays a "bonus" commission of £1.30 per child for every baby photograph it takes, often without the mother's consent. Bounty then sells those pictures to the parents — because, if there's any part of the process of giving birth you would want immortalized, it's that precious communion between mother, child, and psychotic stranger with a camera. Apparently, the photographers target teenagers and mothers who underwent difficult labors because they're considered "easy prey." According to one despicable account:

One midwife was said to have chased a Bounty lady off a ward after she "ripped open" a patient's privacy curtains, which were closed while a catheter was removed, and exposed the woman to the ward. The Bounty lady had been trying to get "better light" while she snapped pictures of a newborn next door.

Even more egregiously, Bounty representatives take advantage of new parents' confusion in order to obtain their personal details, which they then sell to corporations — for instance, one unemployed single mother claims that she was pressured to hand over her credit card details while recovering from a botched epidural. According to Belinda Phipps, the chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, many parents don't understand what they're signing up for when they speak with Bounty salespeople:

Within hours of giving birth, they are being asked questions — their name and address, details of life insurance — and they give them in good faith, thinking they’re speaking to a hospital person. In fact it’s a commercial person. The NHS is condoning a sales team collecting data from mothers in order to sell their name on to commercial interests.

Annually, Bounty distributes 2.6 million "Bounty Bags," which contain samples of maternity products as well as advertising materials. According to the NCT, the bags have a falsely official air around them because they also contain application forms for child welfare; even though the forms are available online, HM Revenue and Customs pays Bounty £90,000 a year to distribute them. Because this is a completely disgusting arrangement, some mothers report that Bounty reps "have hinted that child benefit forms would be withheld if they didn’t accept a promotional pack."

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: please, please get the fuck out of the delivery room while we're giving birth. In the words of a Department of Health spokesman: "Women should be able to give birth in a safe, comfortable, and relaxing environment [free from amoral capitalistic vultures attempting to sow disorder and misery]."

"NHS cash-for-access: mothers targeted by salespeople minutes after giving birth" [The Telegraph]

Image via Anatoly Tiplyashin/Shutterstock.