Breastfeeding mothers offered £200 in shop vouchers


Dr Clare Relton says midwives and health visitors will be asked to verify whether the women are breastfeeding

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New mothers are to be offered up to £200 in shopping vouchers to encourage them to breastfeed 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.

New mothers in Sheffield give their opinion about the scheme

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.

Start Quote

The motive for breastfeeding cannot be rooted by offering financial reward”

End Quote Janet Fyle Royal College of Midwives

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.

Breastfeeding expert Geraldine Miskin: "Mums need to have practical advice"

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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 826.

    Who are these people so liberal with their advice? Have they ever given birth or tried to nurse? Before formula, there were "wet nurses". Nursing should be done according to the will and desire of the mother and not mandated nor bribed. Like other issues, education might be the better way to go. Then let each mother weigh the pros and cons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 825.

    Those who CANNOT breastfeed are going to feel upset about this. My wife simply didn't produce enough milk to do so. Others also. What are they to think?

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    I tried breast feeding with both children. My first attempt, my milk dried up after a month, my second attempt I couldn't because the baby used to grind her gums against my nipple, you have no idea of the pain, my nipples bled before I gave up, having said that I genuinely loved the feeling of motherhood breastfeeding gave me, it broke my heart when I couldn't. Formula was a second choice

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    What is needed is appropriate support for all new mums. Anyone can find breastfeeding difficult, no matter how much they want to do it. Mums need easy access to people who are appropriately qualified to help and who are empathetic. I found it very difficult to breast feed and almost impossible to get useful support. Mostly I was offered patronising sound bites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    Completely wrong attitude and places further pressures on mothers at a time when they do not need that kind of pressure.

    There is more education and information now than there has ever been. Leave people to make their own choices.


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