As if there aren’t enough people coming in and out of your hospital room in the hours and days after you’ve just given birth, add one more from the corporate world this time. The New York Times has a story on how the Walt Disney Co. is sending representatives into more than 550 hospital maternity wards through May to hand-deliver a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a kind of Onesie, to new mothers in connection with a photo company that offers bedside pictures. In a bid to extend its brand and enter the lucrative newborn market, Disney is apparently asking new moms to sign up for email alerts from its new baby-product venture as well.
It’s hard to turn down free things, and some moms may like the bodysuits and appreciate the email offers that arrive after they sign up for the alerts. But there is something creepy about making such a sales pitch to customers who are first and foremost patients. They’re trying to heal from wounds sustained in childbirth and at the same time negotiate a constant stream of visits from relatives, nurses and a host of specialists that attend to them and their newborns at regular intervals. Allow me to state the obvious: They’re also learning to breastfeed in many cases — some for the first time — and that is often a sensitive time. Most new moms are sleep-deprived and yet filled with the adrenaline rush that comes from having a baby. In other words, they’re often too overwhelmed to be their own best advocates.
I only speak for myself, but if a Disney rep would have arrived shortly after my daughter’s birth, both Disney and the hospital would have gotten an earful: Disney for arriving uninvited and the hospital for failing to protect my privacy, not to mention my time. There are plenty of opportunities to grab new moms’ attention and discretionary income after they leave the hospital. Dropping by while they’re still being cocooned and when their babies’ umbilical cords are still freshly severed doesn’t sound like a winning strategy to