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 681.

    That's it, I'm refusing to wipe my own backside until someone pays me to do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    Just another perfect example of the idiocy that's going on in this country. Let's see we have stripping people of benefits, the sick, the disabled, the unemployed in order to recoup money lost because of bent bankers and politicians and instead what do we get put up as a high priority.....? You guessed it giving money away to breastfeeding mothers!! So hilarious you couldn't make it up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 679.


    What a hateful attitude towards women. Even if you are one!

    Surely a woman who doesn't breastfeed isn't lazy, as it would be way more annoying to get up through the night and sufficiently prepare a bottle than to breastfeed. It's obviously just difficult to get a child to latch on, and some new mums have told me it can be painful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 678.


    formula prescription only?? how ridiculous!! I struggled to breast feed my baby and he would have quickly become dehydrated if I had to get a prescription for formula - some of us have no choice!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 677.

    It should be the mothers choice to breast feed or bottle feed. While breast is best it is best done at home. Breast feeding does not need to done in public with a fanfare and showing everything. if it really needs to be done in public it can be managed discreetly keeping it as a calm interchange between mother and child. Did it this way myself for 3mths and then bottles. Child healthy aged 40yrs

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    Formula should be on a prescription only basis? Do you not think a new mum has enough to do without running back and forward to appointments. What about the costs to the NHS?

    I couldn't feed my pre-term baby and spent the next 6 months feeling I had to justify myself to other mums and midwives. It's a personal choice and no one should be bullied into.

  • rate this

    Comment number 675.

    622. westhammer
    I AM NOT CONFIDENT feeding in public but I am fully mature, a special needs teacher with a masters degree! You are the type of person who made me feel like crap, stop pushing. My 2 children and beautiful and no worse for wear having had formula. It the attitude/pressure from people like you that some of us PSD!

  • rate this

    Comment number 674.

    Appalling. What about those who want to but are unable to breastfeed like my wife? (who had to restart medication after giving birth) Her decision was taken out her hands so why should others gain. It is bad enough that the government set the price of bottle food artificially high and limit competition because they want people to breastfeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    When my wife was breastfeeding, I was run ragged: fetching food and drink, adjusting the stereo, bringing pillows, massaging legs, looking after the other child, reading out crossword clues, making more coffee - it was endless. It's dads who should get paid, not mums.

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    @652. Castle86,

    Or better still explain how much these mums would save by breastfeeding, which could be around £20/week, then use the £200 vouchers to help those that are unable to breastfeed because of a medial condition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    99 percent of mothers in Scandinavia initiate breastfeeding

    Natasha Cambell-McBride explains the importance of breastfeeding for our development and immune systems

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    Tat for tit?

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    So £200 worth of vouchers subsidised by the tax payers for Mums who claim to be breast feeding, which will now be all of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    My mum tried to breastfeed me but I just wouldn't and i was bottle fed. She managed for a few days with my brother five years later, then the same thing happened. I'm now 25, have perfect teeth good vision and haven't had anything worse than a cold in my life. Breastfeeding should be encouraged and social attitudes really need to change, but penalising women who can't like this isn't the way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    The most stupid thing I have ever heard!!!
    Breastfeeding is the most natural thing ever, I the mother can't or doesn't want to do it that is her choice as long as the baby is healthy and loved why does it matter how it is fed?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    Visigoth - no you are wrong - the breast feeding advisors in hospitals do NOT appear to understand that some mothers cannot breastfeed and that it would be DANGEROUS to push these mothers to keep trying.

    There is a huge amount of ignorance about how dangerous to a baby it is to be denied food for several days if the breastfeeding is not working.

    Brain damage is a risk in these cases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    Bribing mothers to breastfeed adds insult to injury!

    Why don't mothers breastfeed?
    - pain / medical issues: sometimes no amount of support helps
    - disgusted looks when you're caught out in public
    - feeling that you're a slave to the baby and have lost your feminity
    - feeling that your body is public property - wanting control back

    These psychological issues must be addressed first!

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    647.Alaric the Visigoth

    "What gives you that right?"

    Flicking through the comments you have been here all morining lecturing people in that abrasive manner of yours.

    What gives you that right?

    Is breastfeeding better than formula, if so why and some science to back it up, not difficult is it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.

    What are the health implications for baby of breastfed child whose mother smokes and drinks and a formula fed one?

    Which is best then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.

    If we really want mothers to breastfeed, then rather than forking out for vouchers why not pay for mums to have the proper support and advice? Breastfeeding isn't easy for a lot of people, and being booted out of hospital less than 24 hours after giving birth with nary a bye-your-leave means a lot of mums get fed up trying to BF with little success. Support new mums, don't bribe them.


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