All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

That Innocent Little Bounty Pack...

In the UK when pregnant, your midwife/GP/relevant Health Professional will usually give you the first Bounty Pack.   There are five in total:
  • Pregnancy Information Folder
  • Mum To Be
  • Mum's Pack
  • Newborn Pack
  • Family Pack
Basically you are given or collect five different carrier bags full of "stuff".

A Bounty Pack - image shared by a mum on Facebook
The "stuff" varies regionally, some mums seem to get lots of items whilst others only one or two.  A tiny tub of Sudocrem, a disposable nappy and a washing tablet seems to be pretty standard - some have had mini cans of caffeine free coke or sample of toiletries.  Discount/money off coupons/samples for everything from follow on milk and weaning foods, to fabric softeners and antibacterial spray.  Leaflets and publications such as "Emma's diary" are enclosed and then lots more advertising  - one mum noted adverts to send off for stuffed toys from both Aptamil & Cow & Gate.

Bounty's site reads:
"Embarking on parenthood is a bit like being expected to find your way in a jungle with no map and no guide.
Wonderful, yes. exhilarating, life changing, enriching; no doubt. But boy can it be challenging. It’s bewildering, exhausting and scary at times too.
When any family sets off on this incredible journey, Bounty’s there, guiding the way.
We support families in the transition to parenthood, through each key life stage, from pregnancy to birth to toddler to pre-school. We aim to be the first place new mums turn to for advice, help, reassurance and information. We also welcome them into an online community where they can share problems, worries, tips and achievements with a support network of mums who are going through the same thing.
As well as providing new mums with the timely advice and expert knowledge new mums need, we introduce carefully chosen products and services to mum that we know, as parents, can be invaluable through the different key stages. Every mum that registers with us is eligible to receive a total of five Bounty packs; filled with free samples, money-off vouchers and useful information, plus three free guides offering practical, up-to-date information, advice and guidance from pregnancy and beyond."
And there's lots of information about charitable giving and so on.

But what many forget is that in exchange for a few pounds worth of product samples and leaflets/information of varying quality - you're giving them all your personal details.  Details that are more valuable than you might think.

Let's see what website says about Bounty:
"Bounty is one of the largest advertising and communications companies in the world. For nearly 50 years they have been providing direct marketing and support services to major pharmaceutical companies and other services that target parents of young children.
The company was founded in 1959, based in London and had 6 employees. They now employ 590 people and distribute 3.4 million bounty packs every year.
Bounty works closely with the NHS, with Postnatal Bedside Caring Distributors who communicate with new mums and Ward Midwives. This role serves to inform the new mums and also to discreetly collect useful data from them. Bounty Health Network Advisors work with Community Midwives, Health Visitors, Practice and School Nurses."
Perhaps it's just me, but that doesn't seem quite as hearts and flowers as the site for parents?

Why do the NHS allow it?
The usual reason - money.
"Bounty sales reps are given exclusive access to maternity wards by trusts" 
"They also try to ask women for their contact details so they can sell them to other companies that provide services for parents, and hand out free packs containing small samples of nappy cream and washing powder, but which also include official Government forms that must be filled in to claim Child Benefit.

Several hospitals and Bounty itself face investigation by the data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office, for passing on private details of this newspaper's investigation.

Last night parenting experts and patients' campaign groups criticised NHS trusts and the firm for making money from women when they are at their most vulnerable.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, said: "It is absolutely appalling. When you go into a maternity ward to have your baby, you shouldn't be subjected to commercial pressures.
"But the hospitals turn a blind eye to Bounty because otherwise they will have to ask their trusts for more money." 
Bounty, which was sold to Barclays Private Equity in April this year for £54million, has been going for 50 years. 
Almost all hospital trusts have individual contracts with the company and are paid about £1 for each pack given out after birth.
"Bounty ladies", as the firm's staff are known, also visit mothers at their bedside and ask for their addresses and phone numbers, which they then sell on to other firms." From HERE 
Now consider if Bounty pay the hospital £1 - what must your details be worth?  They generate revenue from the companies who put samples, leaflets and coupons in the FIVE packs.  Then consider they distribute 3.4 million bounty packs every year.

Then they can sell your details to generate more profit; one mum on Facebook said:
"Someone on my facebook put on her status that she'd had a phone call from Eon talking about the fact that she's pregnant and had received a pack, she didn't realise Bounty could sell her details (and not just her name and address, but the fact she's pregnant as well)"
Doesn't this mean our NHS is ultimately delivering new mothers in to the hands of a commercial company?  Doesn't the NHS have any obligation to ensure something they endorse is in line with relevant codes and that the information within is always accurate and evidence based?

Given the NHS will NOT give out details of independent breastfeeding groups or services, it seems if money is exchanging hands the rules change....

One mum on Facebook said:
"I declined the Bounty Pack (which surprised the Midwife!). Later on, the sonographer handed me some little card wallets to put my scan pictures in, guess what - sponsored by Bounty! There were so many adverts in the antenatal waiting room too, I don't understand how these companies are allowed to be so ingrained in the system."
Double plus for Bounty is that this means their information also appears Government endorsed - the packs are given out by Health Professionals and Health Establishments, one pack contains a form required to claim child benefit and so on.

Bounty also released a statement according to
"Bounty’s statement (October 09) that it will no longer promote weaning foods or
toddler milks from early 2010"
Yet when I ran a quick poll here on the blog - out of 147 mothers that had responded at the time of writing this blog, 53 (36%) said they did receive such marketing in 2010.  More worryingly 61 (41%) replied yes in 2011.  Only 33 (22%) of respondents said they didn't receive any.

This means either a lot of mothers made a mistake, or Bounty continued to supply such marketing materials after early 2010.

Furthermore, whilst Bounty stated they would stop promoting these items - does this mean they will stop selling details to these companies too?  I suspect not....

The document from Lancashire Childrens Trust, summarises the many issues with the NHS being associated with Bounty and is well worth a read.  So I want to move on to the issues parents raised on Facebook.

1.  Insensitivity from Bounty photographers:
"My daughter was badly bruised on her face from the very traumatic birth she had - the Bounty rep selling photos came round the ward and then when she got to me looked at my baby's face and said "Oh you wont be wanting any photos of her for a long time will you" and promptly left. I was very very upset, I should have complained. Disgusting that they allow sales reps for Bounty near very vulnerable ladies :-("
"I was in the middle of having an extremely uncomfortable procedure done on day 2 (you really don't want to know the details trust me!) when the Bounty lady came round. My husband who was outside the curtains took my pack on my behalf, but refused to give her my email address. She then tracked me down the next day and stayed in my room until I gave her an email address, I had just had a blood transfusion and was too tired and weak to tell her where to go. In the end I gave her an email address I don't use any more, have just checked email account I gave her and I have received an outstanding 211 bounty emails in 3 months! Madness!"
 "Very unimpressed that my husband wasn't supposed to be on the ward with me and our newborn (visiting hours for Dads is 12 noon until 8pm only) and we got a lot of hassle and bullying because he had got in at 7am and wouldn't leave (because I would burst into floods of tears at the mere mention of it) yet the Bounty woman was there handing out packs and taking photos - for sale, of course. How is she allowed to be there and not the father of my baby?!?!"
"How annoying! I've just been harassed by a Bounty Pack woman. A bit of background info for you-i'm in hospital on complete bedrest after PROM at 22 weeks. I'm now 24 weeks. Anyway, she came in asking if i'd had a pack. I said i'd had one off my midwife when i had my booking in appointment. She said that i needed the next pack and she needed my details. I said i wasn't interested but she kept going on telling me if i didn't have the pack i wouldn't be able to claim child benefit as i woldn't get the form." 
2.  Getting out of the "Bounty System" once you're in:

Despite the close NHS links, it is the responsibility of the parents to advise Bounty if they no longer wish to receive packs due to miscarriage or stillbirth. At a difficult time this can be the last thing parents remember to do.  Mums on Facebook said:
"I found it very upsetting that bounty still sent me vouchers to get their packs when I lost my baby. You would think they would get the idea when I didn't collect a hospital bag but they still sent me the voucher for it months after our baby had died."
"Bounty failed to remove me from their mailing list when I let them know our first baby had died in utero at 17 weeks- which meant I received (amongst other things) a tiny nappy sample through the post a few weeks after we had lost him.  I am not ashamed to admit that wee nappy had me weeping on my knees in the hallway."
"I lost my first son 20 weeks into pregnancy and the constant emails and post from Bounty and associated companies almost pushed me over the edge."
Again a problem that doesn't seem new - in a large discussion about Bounty on Mumsnet a few years ago one mum said:
"Bounty still sent me a pack every 3 months or so after my stillbirth and it was pretty upsetting to be honest. Once you are on their list it's virtually impossible to get removed."
3.  Environmental Issues?
I'm not a hardcore green activist but the one thing mums say over and over again when discussing Bounty packs is "I took out the samples and binned the rest".

Just a couple from the many on Facebook/online:
"I didn't mind the bounty packs, got a couple of fairy/persil coupons/samples and binned the rest, along with alot of the leaflets re bf, cosleeping, pnd etc
"We were all handed one in the waiting room for one of mu appointments. I kept the comfort pure samples and binned the rest"
"A load of stuff that I threw in the bin and some advertising material thinly disguised as 'parenting literature'. Seriously though, I really can't remember as it was all stuff I didn't want to use."
Even if every single person recycles, how much recycling does 3.4 million Bounty packs generate?

There is an alternative!
Blackpool PCT are currently trialling Mama Packs.

Mama Packs are cotton bags [RRP£2] & the United Kingdom's ONLY ethically influenced, trade marked Mum & Baby sample pack.
Mums get better freebies, no advertising bumf and no selling of details to third parties.

If you're pregnant or due to receive packs, I hope this helps you make an informed decision as to whether to sell your details to Bounty.

UPDATE July 2014: Mumsnet found 82% of those surveyed felt it was unacceptable for commercial companies access to patients. Therefore they've campaigning for a ban on Bounty sales reps in postnatal wards. Click here for details.


  1. A few years ago I investigated how to get sample products INTO a Bounty pack. At that time, companies had to provide all the samples (tens of thousands of them) for free, and also pay Bounty around £10,000 per product! So smaller, more ethical companies with products that might genuinely be of interest (the sorts of things that go in a Mama Pack, for instance) were priced completely out. Never mind 'carefully chosen products'...

    1. Hi Helen,
      I am also a small retailer and have thought about getting into the bounty packs in my region (South West). You mentioned £10,000 per product. Was that a once of, monthly or annual payment.

      All the best

    2. James you want to advertise with a company that exploits women and babies this way?

  2. If you are a small company, working to tight margins and genuinely interested in parents' welfare and long-term future of the planet (important!!) Bounty is completely out of the question - both financially and ethically. They basically have a monopoly on birth/new parents and it is quite debilitating for anyone smaller than an enormous company. Talk to people about washable nappies - they are often quite interested - but they have just never really considered it. Hardly surprising when they are bombarded with free samples and advertising from the 1st trimester. MamaPacks are definitely the way forward. We (NapNap) are hoping to work with them in the future. I am pregnant with 3rd and I am sick of all the rubbish Bounty throw my way.

  3. I never realised the darker side of the bounty pack until my baby was here, I read about the photographers brutal manner with new mums. Luckily I didn't have any trouble with them myself, preying on women at their most vulnerable is just such a aweful marketing strategy.
    My pack did include cow & gate pamphlets I believe, the thing is you recieve it from midwives so you do think that it is an official nhs 'thing' after reading this I went and unsubscribed from their emails (something I had been meaning to do for a while) and next time I have a baby I am going to refuse a bounty pack & just use a pretty folder of my own!
    Now I wonder if the will actuly stop sending me emails?

  4. I was given a Bounty pack, both pre and post birth. The contents, apart from the tub of sudocreme (which I love, is the cure for everything!) went in the bin. I'm fussy about what wash powder we use, we use cloth nappies, and I didn't want or need all the marketing bumf. I was quite rude to the Bounty lady, who came round, when my son was 12 hours old, wanting my e-mail etc. I told her I'd had one baby already, knew what I needed, I didn't need all the Bounty stuff, and that I wasn't giving out my e-mail address for marketing. She got huffy, but left. When she came round to do the photo bit, I told her we had a friend who was learning to be a professional photographer who was coming to do some pics for free for us, and she went off in a huff again. It's just a huge marketing ploy. I got so many mails from them, when I had my first, because I did give my address, and so much junk mail and promotions from companies I wasn't interested in.

  5. I just can't figure out how to unsubscribe. Like most women, I was soo vulnerable. Recovering from an EMCS,My bubba up in SCBU i was a state and she wouldnt leave so I just gave in. It was 10 months ago but I still get cross when I think about it!

  6. Is this just in England and Wales? Because I (in Scotland) don't recall receiving anything like that.

  7. Thanks for posting this. I was trying to find out more information about this company since receiving a pack and couldn't really find anything. Now my suspicions are confirmed I shall be ditching their crap and using my own folder.

    If this is what's happening with the NHS now, I truly fear for the future...

  8. I used to work in marketing (boring industrial products) so I have a fair idea how much ££ my data is worth. I took the first folder from the midwife and when I saw how much advertising there was soon realised their game - I was the only one in the ante-natal clinic clutching my own, plain folder!
    After my (enforced) hospital birth the woman came round and tried to sign me up - I admit being rude to HER as the only way to get rid - I think my argument with her put a couple of other mums off too.
    Top tip, your date of birth is one of the most valuable pieces of information to a marketeer (and identity theft). Always question why somebody needs it and guard it very carefully. Or pick an age you'd like to be - if they insist, I give 1st jan 18 years ago. That confuses them!!

  9. I'll be honest, I completely HATE Bounty with a passion. I was one of those who got hit with an insensitive cow when I had my 27 weeker.
    However once the calls started flooding in about joining the Disney Book Club I lost it and emailled Bounty, demanding they take me off their list. The damage is done however, but Bounty don't contact me themselves anymore. They are the middle men - they sold my details so its too late. I never recieved an apology either, they do not care.

    Bounty photographers dont even pay for parking in hospitals - yet parents who have to visit their sick babies in NICU often do. Think about it!

    With my second baby the photographer pushed her luck as best she could but I told her to get out my room and I wasnt buying nothing from them.

    @rhiannon - yes, its implmented in Scotland too - its normally Bounty or Emmas Diary - who do exactly the same with their packs and website.

  10. I worked for Bounty for over 5 years. Each 'name' is worth upwards of £9 each, so paying the hospital £1 - £3.50 (depending on whether they have a Photographic service or not makes sense to Bounty. Certain contracts meant that the Photographer of Distributor would be bonused on the amount of email addresses they were able to obtain. The minimum cost per 1000 was around £100, slightly less for leaflet, but the charges were based on producing 'x' amount of packs - there were never guaranteed to actually reach consumers hands, merely pipefill - if number were down, some pre-natal packs would be given out at the bedside to artificially bump up 'distribution' numbers. A total rip off, but these companies have marketing budgets to burn.

  11. Great post as usual AA. I couldn't find the link to the Change petition anywhere in your work. It would be well worth slotting it in:

    1. Hiya
      Nope I wrote the piece a couple of years ago before the petition existed - will add now, cheers :)

  12. They have stopped it in my local hospital and I'm very glad, when my son was born after a traumatic birth he was taken by ambulance to another hospital 30 miles away for an operation, didnt stop a bounty rep come bounding into my room wanting to take photos, I asked her if she could see a baby to take photos of...?

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