Breastfeeding mothers offered £200 in shop vouchers

We saw in the news today that a new scheme is being trialled to encourage breastfeeding by offering mums £200 of high street vouchers. We would love to hear what your thoughts are on this as it has got some blood boiling in the Mojomums office!

Here is the information on the scheme from bbcnews online:

New mothers are to be offered up to £200 in shopping vouchers to encourage them to breast feed their babies.

The pilot scheme is being targeted at deprived areas of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and funded through a collaboration between government and the medical research sector. A third area is expected soon with the plan to trial it on 130 women who have babies from now until March.

If successful, a nationwide pilot could be rolled out in England next year. The use of financial incentives is not new in the NHS. It has been tried before to encourage people to quit smoking as well as lose weight.

But this is the first time it has been tried on such a scale for breastfeeding. Under the scheme mothers from specific parts of Sheffield and Chesterfield will be offered the vouchers, which they can then use in supermarkets and high street shops.

The areas have been chosen because they have such low breastfeeding rates. On average just one in four mothers are breastfeeding by the six- to eight-week mark compared with a national average of 55%.

To qualify for the full £200 of rewards, the women will have to breastfeed until six months. However, it will be frontloaded enabling those taking part to get £120 for breastfeeding for the first six weeks. Midwives and health visitors will be asked to verify whether the women are breastfeeding.

The team behind the project said breastfeeding was a cause of health inequalities, pointing to research that showed it helped prevent health problems such as upset stomachs and chest infections as well as leading to better educational attainment.

Dr Clare Relton, the Sheffield University expert leading the project, said she hoped the financial incentives would create a culture where breastfeeding was seen as the norm. “It is a way of acknowledging both the value of breastfeeding to babies, mothers and society,” she added.

But Janet Fyle, of the Royal College of Midwives, questioned the initiative. “The motive for breastfeeding cannot be rooted by offering financial reward. It has to be something that a mother wants to do in the interest of the health and well-being of her child.” She said the answer lay in making sure there were enough staff available to provide comprehensive support to new mothers after birth.

So what do we think about this? Here at Mojomums we are amazed that forcing mothers to breast feed is top of the government agenda! There are some mothers who can’t breastfeed for medical reasons – so why should they be frowned upon when if they continue to try to feed their baby to gain financial reward their child would potentially starve!

The pressure to breast feed is already piled on by midwives and mothers are already feeling vulnerable after giving birth we all want to do the very best for our children and for some that includes breast feeding, for others it doesn’t. What right do outsiders have to make that choice? It is a personal choice for every mother and it can even vary per child no matter what your intentions. We feel this bribe is disgraceful!

It is unfair, to pressurise vulnerable mothers who are probably already feeling a bit scared and bewildered into doing something that may not work for them! It is an individual’s choice and not something that should be enforced with bribery!


7 Responses to Breastfeeding mothers offered £200 in shop vouchers

  1. chickywiggle says:

    My experience with breastfeeding and the UK healthcare system means I am strongly against this ‘breastfeeding bribery’ – for those who can’t breastfeed it just feel like another way of repeating what a failure you are for not getting an additional £200 to spend on your child.
    I blogged about it too….pop over and see.

  2. Zoe Stratford says:

    I have two children one who was breastfed for 13 months and one who still is at 10 months.
    My first did not latch until he was 7 hours old and then was a hungry boy and fed every two hours. I think this was because he was hungry and no one was available to show me properly. You give birth to this baby which doesn’t come with instructions like the back of a formula carton.
    We as mothers need better help at the time of birth and the first vital hours. My second was feeding within 2 hours because I hand expressed my breast and wiped it around his mouth which got him feeding. Spend money on 24 hour breastfeeding advice (within the hospital) / place of birth. The money that people earn will be the savings they make from breastsfeeding. We are mammals and should beable to feed our young, you don’t see your lioness popping down to the supermarket to obtain the powdery formula.
    I’m disgusted with this strategy.

  3. Hmmm – I agree with Mary. We always resort to money as an incentive when there is a much bigger picture here. Doesn’t it come down to the fundamentals of education and choice and if money is a consideration in benefits of breast feeding that’s great but incentivising it? The money could definitely have better uses.

  4. Claire Merritt says:

    Wrong place wrong time. If they could back date it 4+ years and include Mums from Bushey I would qualify!

  5. zoe says:

    This is disgraceful. Mums should breastfeed for the right reasons. Having a new baby demanding food is a lot of pressure, the extra financial pressure could impact on the emotional state of the mother. It may also mean some women are pressured into this through their partners and may depend on that extra money. This money should be put towards support groups for breastfeeding mums, and training more breast feeding support workers ho can help mothers who need the extra encouragement. I personally feel that breastfeeding has enough advantages over formula, such as it is free, no preparstion needed, that money needn’t be one of them.

  6. jasmine says:

    I think the money could better used in more midwives and support for the mothers. I had a premature baby I had an awfull three weeks in hospital as its so short staffed. I am breast feeding exclusively until last week my baby 3 1/2 months I had mastitis and my milk supply decreased. My baby was hungry so he is now feed every other bottle to breast. It is hard work people are so judgemental. I was bottle fed as a baby I havent suffered so why is it so bad to formula feed? If the support was there from having the baby not forced to breast feed more people would. Look at the hospital facilities and support rather then handing out vouchers to bribe mothers and mothers to be.

  7. Surely money could be better spent on increasing the support to get Mum’s breastfeeding and helping they along the way. I really struggled and had pretty much zero support at the time.

    This seems like a really badly thought out scheme imho.

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