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 701.


    "Just over £1 a day, surely if someone needs cash incentives they are beyond help"

    Surely if someone does not know how many days are in a year they should not be lecturing mothers about breast feeding.

    "Show them how many fags they can buy"

    Then you go on to say your wife used formula because the baby would not breast feed. Oh dear yet you belittle the poor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    "However, it will be frontloaded -"

    Doesn't that also describe the women who are doing what nature intended?

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    I have no desire to ever breastfeed. Express, perhaps, but not actually breastfeed. And £200 wouldn't change my mind. As a baby I was fed COLD formula. Never been a sickly person at all and reached high levels of educational attainment. If a baby is happy and healthy it matters not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    I think this is silly, and the UK has one of the highest child mortality in Europe.
    We went along with the whole "natural" for our first one and it turned out to be horrible because her breast milk was NOT rich enough. Other EU countries TEST the breast milk. Losing weight, switched to formula and started to be ok. Breast milk, great for first 3 days, afterwards... it depends on the milk/baby.

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    Spend money on improving formula or training more midwives to have time to support mothers trying to breastfeed.
    When I had my children 30 years ago I wanted to but the midwife told me to stop after a week and move to formula as babies were not putting on enough weight. I changed believing that I was doing the best for them at the time.
    I resent the implication that I was not as good a mother….

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    You'd think concern for the health and wellbeing of your baby would ensure mothers at least try to breastfeed, not the temptation of money being dangled in front of your face. I think this might be the most stupid idea the powers that be have come up with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    So, we as taxpayers, are not only shelling out millions for people having babies and adding to this country's over-population problem, we're now paying them to use their breast milk. Why not just pay them for feeding fresh fruit to their kids, or burping their babies, or changing a nappy? Because, of course, we've got so much money in this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    New mums should NOT be bullied into breastfeeding.There is too much focus on 'forcing' women to breastfeed without considering why the baby might not take to the breast. Midwives, Health Visitors & Breastfeeding Counsellors should all have training on how NOT to pressure or make new mums feel guilty about not being able to breastfeed - use the money for that!!

  • 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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    yet you still get judged for doing it in public"

    Really? Anyone who is prepared to judge a mother for discreetly nurturing her child in a public place is not someone whose opinion and judgement anyone should care the slightest about. If a restaurateur or shop manager tries to stop you, politely inform them they are breaking the law.

    666. Jb

    You didn't answer the question.

  • Comment number 691.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 690.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    If women are able to, they should breastfeed for their child's health, not free stuff.

    I just wish the government would stop stealing my money and throwing it away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    To those who get a tatto to remember things by ...

    Can't you remember without that aide memoire ?, and if not how do you remember what it is the tattoo is reminding you of ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    Women want equality do they.

    Equality in what, morals, logic, decency, being a fit mother, putting child 1st before own convenience/inconvenience.

    some people NEED pushing.

    Some western mothers have become the laziest in the world, they can simply shed tears or provide any number of multiple excuses.

    But remember, this is NOT the majority, just the stupid minority

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    Just over £1 a day, surely if someone needs cash incentives they are beyond help. Breast milk is free, formula costs. Show them how many fags they can buy with their savings, it would probably be more effective.

    Our daughter would not breast feed, she has turned out fine and I resent the overly judgemental midwives who look at you like you are some sort of monster for using formula.

  • rate this

    Comment number 685.

    Back in the 70's my mother had excess milk and used to feed other children on the ward, would she have been granted there money as well?

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    I want a varcher,I think, therefore I am, entitled to a varcher.

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    Can I point out that there is already a financial incentive for breastfeeding! If you calculate the amount of money spent on formula, sterilisation, bottles etc. I'm sure it adds up to more than £200.
    Breastfeeding is a personal choice and a choice that not everyone has the luxury to make.
    I did it because it was the right choice for me and my family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    They are focusing their resources in the wrong place. I desperately needed support with breastfeeding in the first few days of my baby's life but didn't get it as the funding had been cut at the hospital. As a result we never successfully breastfed. The support in the community was better but was too late. They need to spend this money on support workers in the hospital!


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