Profits from pregnancy – free link to BMJ article

Free link to BMJ article 

Petition to Dan Poulter on


Profits from pregnancy: how trusted organisations sell out women to commercial interests 

The NHS and some UK royal colleges profit by selling commercial advertisers access to pregnant women through promotions such as Bounty bags. These potential conflicts of interest are unacceptable, considers Margaret McCartney


Below are some of the stuff you get in the Bounty bags; bottom is Emma’s Diary, which I hope the RCGP scrap, and which I rescued these from the recycling bin to share with you.

bounty newborn




bounty pregnancy






I thought it would be interesting to collate the emails you get once signed up.

In short, it’s a daily email plus rather a few phone calls.

I was phoned by Eon energy today (via Emma’s diary); and an insurance company yesterday.

They also send a daily email, as do Bounty.

Typically, you get an ‘exclusive’ discount code for photography/insurance/clothes/supermarkets/cleaning products/nappies/holidays or a ‘special offer’.

It’s also notable that Bounty have changed their description of themselves on Linkedin, from

“Bounty is the UK’s favourite parenting club and Bounty Media is the market leading media owner in the parenting category with a strong portfolio of six unique media channels communicating with parents, women and growing families. Bounty’s 50 year pedigree has made it one of the most trusted businesses within this sector, with the power to influence both the purchasing habits of parents and women, and the marketing success of the brand owners and clients who work with Bounty.”
it’s now
“As a free to join parenting club, Bounty has been giving mums more for more than 50 years.
We help new and expectant mums to learn, share and save – throughout pregnancy, young family life and beyond
Through relevant commercial partnerships, Bounty members receive offers, discounts, samples and more from leading brands and retailers
Bounty is a responsible company and we feel very strongly about using our capability in a positive way to support government, charities and organisations in providing information and support to parents.
We get involved in supporting a host of charities in the parenting arena that echo our aim of helping families get the most out of family life. This work and effort means an awful lot to the charities and all the families they touch, and it makes us immensely proud to know the difference our business can make.
Our long-term charity partner is Tommy’s – we fund 3 research midwives and jointly promote the ‘5 Point Pregnancy Plan’ to mums-to-be, to improve their health and that of their baby.
To find out more see
It’s also notable that both Tommy’s charity and the Lullaby Trust have both endorsed Bounty on twitter in the last few days

We’re proud to work with @BountyUK to reach mums with advice on health in pregnancy. See our 5 point pregnancy plan

The Lullaby Trust is proud to work with @BountyUK who help us share our life-saving tips on baby sleep safety with mums

which is disappointing, given that they could offer information to women without Bounty making money out of selling on their details.

It’s also worth noting that Bounty have sent out a letter telling midwives that they are ‘a good thing’. This reminds me very much of marketing strategy; embed yourself with patient charities; write to healthcare professionals saying what a good job you are doing; and don’t listen to the criticism from real live patients on the ground saying that the intervention is unhelpful, harmful, or has nasty side effects.

6 Responses to “Profits from pregnancy – free link to BMJ article”

  1. Natalie Thornhill May 29, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    I’ve always felt this way about the Bounty Packs. They ended up passing my personal details on to third parties during my first pregnancy so I refused to have anything to do with them the second time round.

  2. Samir Dawlatly May 29, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    My write has been suspicious of bounty packs for years.

    Good points, well made. Would be great if mainstream media pick up the story…

  3. Phoebe Pallotti May 29, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    As a midwife and a mother I’ve always refused to have anything to do with Bounty (which made my community bag significantly lighter too 😉 subvertising by binning any I was given to hand out. I am also concerned about the ‘Reps’ wandering about our wards collecting personal information – are they CRB checked? Are they trained? It’s a very vulnerable time to be asking for personal details and I’m not always sure the mothers understand that they are not NHS staff either. It would be really good to know more – is there any research on this?

  4. Community Midwife May 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    I was in a community midwives meeting this morning and the ethics of handing out Bounty packs came up and it was generally agreed that it is unethical and also against our Code of Conduct. It seemed timely and I was very pleased to hear a piece about your article on the radio while driving to my clinic! One of the problems is that if women don’t get the packs they complain and ask for them. When I do give them out I tell women that they are full of advertising, the NHS is not endorsing the products and to think carefully about how much information they want Bounty to have and how bombarded they are likely to be if they include their phone number.

    Thank you Margaret McCartney for bringing this to the media’s attention!

  5. Sharon Trotter June 12, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    I totally agree, I have been raising this issue for years and carried out an online survey in 2009. My results showed that only 30% of 183 respondents wanted to receive a Bounty bag. I recently presented my work on baby skincare to midwives and mothers in Stornoway and the topic of Bounty bags was again raised. They are seriously considering stopping the distribution of these bags in their small unit for all the reasons mentioned here. Parents are bombarded with over-commercialised materials from the moment they get pregnant and the time has come to regulate this far more closely. I like the Finnish idea where they give new parents a carefully selected collection of baby goods in a cardboard box that doubles as a cot for newborns:
    How are parents meant to know whether the products that are advertised in the many pamphlets in the Bounty bag are actually worth having or even safe? In my experience, less is usually more, so I totally agree that a good place to start is by getting rid of the Bounty bag!
    Well done to Margaret for your thought provoking article!


  1. Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes | Freedom From Command And Control - March 2, 2015

    […] of maternity services is to make a profit, the English model is better. According to Glasgow GP Margaret McCartney’s blog, the NHS and some royal colleges make large profits by selling commercial advertisers access to […]