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 661.

    @647 Who said we were standing in the way. What make you think that just because of £200 worth of vouchers numbers will suddenly increase? Surely this money could be better spent, like increasing the numbers of community midwives, so they get the support they need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.

    Dur I can't read or write and won't work but I always have lots on money and nice clothes and holidays cuz I can have lots of babies and need help looking after them
    everyone is so kind to me.
    aren't I a clever girl. xxx

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    Man has a primaeval attraction to a woman who can bear and sustain offspring. Hence the attraction of breasts (sustain)"

    Perhaps but you need to understand the difference between "primary" and secondary purposes. The primary purpose of breasts is to supply milk for infants. The other purposes may or may not make it easier for a woman to become a mother in the first place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.

    Breast milk is healthier for the baby than any artificial baby milk especially during those important first few weeks. It's also cheaper for the mother to breast feed. However, this does depend on the diet of the mother with all processed foods and high fat,salt,suger foods excluded and a VERY wide variety of fresh veg, fruit, pulses & grains, oily fish plus some dairy and white & red meat eaten.

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    646. GazingAtTheStars

    No bored with you, from the outset you did not register on five live they said NHS was paying in as well, which is tax payers money. Your reason for being it "Its a Pilot"

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    Interesting as I lived in Sheffield and had my baby in Chesterfield. I tried to breastfeed and expressed for 3 weeks until I got a kidney infection. The local community support worker was on mat leave and the advisor at the hospital was never available. Why can't the money be used to keep women who want to feed in hospital until their milk comes in, where they have support on hand at feed time ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.

    What a ridiculous idea!

  • rate this

    Comment number 654.

    I don't think it's about effort (it's arguably easier to b'feed than remember to carry around formula, sterilise etc etc) I think it's more to do with social stigma attached to b'feeding in public.

    Perhaps they chose to heavily publicise such a small "trial" not because they're going to roll it out nationwide but to raise awareness about the social hurdles which exist?

  • rate this

    Comment number 653.

    I am sure that breast feeding is beneficial, but how much more beneficial than formula feeding is it. Exactly how many women need to breast feed for six months to prevent a single chest infection? Mothers need facts and not brow-beating about their choice to breast-feed or formula feed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 652.

    " 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."

    Instead of paying £200, how about calmly explaining to these mothers that their actions are potentially doing long term harm - both physically and emotionally to their children?

  • rate this

    Comment number 651.

    Of course there are many valid reasons for not breast feeding. But there are also many lazy, ignorant and stupid women who can't be bothered.

    For those who do want to they need time, support and understanding. Exactly the things they won't get from midwives and nursing staff - they will be too busy stuffing their faces on chocs left by patients.

  • rate this

    Comment number 650.

    How is this going to be policed? Will they employ spys to follow ladies around cafe's?! Will they make you breast feed in front of Health Visitors? It's pretty easy to say 'oh yeah little Jimmy was breast fed 5 minutes before you got here so he's not hungry now' and hide the formula in the cupboard - will they be searching your cupboards to check? Crazy idea to put more pressure on Mums.

  • rate this

    Comment number 649.

    Breastfeeding is way cheaper than formula. The financial incentive to do it already there.

    If it is not working then the cause(s) of this "problem" must lie somewhere else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 648.

    I believe formula needs to be prescription-only. What the baby consumes affects it more so than any medicine, and the natural stuff is the best in this respect. Requiring an appointment to get formula would enable examination of baby and mother, to check on progress. It also removes the baby's health from the dictates of for-profit companies, which put profit first. Bribery is not needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 647.

    632. rayallger
    629. Megan
    627. Jb

    And many others. Yes we get it (as do those running this pilot): many women can't breastfeed. Do you want to stand in the way of helping the much greater number of mothers who CAN but DON'T then? What gives you that right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 646.

    I see that you have given up trying to make a logical argument for your case.

    Good Luck.

  • rate this

    Comment number 645.

    whos paying for this? i'm sick to death of this and every other government dishing my hard earned cash out to pay for stuff for other peoples kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 644.


    And presumably your the fourth

  • rate this

    Comment number 643.

    Mothers need to be healthy to breastfeed. In these deprived areas there is a high chance that mothers wont be that healthy as they don't have the money/knowledge to ensure it. New mothers need more support when they have given birth. The current policy of sending them home with hardly any after care 24 hours is ridiculous. A baby can be overwhelming and not everybody has family back up to help out

  • rate this

    Comment number 642.

    Daft. You can't buy incentive.

    Plus it seems like new mums can't win. You're vilified if you don't breastfeed, yet you still get judged for doing it in public.

    A better way of achieving more widespread breast-feeding would be to tackle the societal taboos surrounding it. We need to stop seeing breasts as sexual rather than functional. Take them from the men and give them back to the babies.


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