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 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 720.

    This is absolutely ridiculous! I believe that whether or not a baby is breastfed doesn't make a difference to the child. It's the 21st century, you don't NEED to do it. It's a mother's choice and preference, especially those where it isn't possible, they shouldn't be putting so much pressure on it. I had a horrible time with my midwife trying to FORCE me to do it!! Ridiculous!

  • rate this

    Comment number 719.

    The Govt should use the money to recruit peer supporters to encourage women to breastfeed as opposed to resorting to bribery. Most women can breastfeed some just choose not to, it's a personal decision. But you can't dispute that breastmilk is best for a baby, no matter how much blurb the formula companies spout.

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    Its simply education and encouragement in light of this education

    NOT MONEY &HANDOUTS. It is unpoliceable -some mothers will claim and still bottle feed

    Breast is best still stands true - don't eat too much Salmon / high in mercury. Eat good fats, animal fats, nut seeds

    So you are healthy yourself having been bottle fed - their may be knock on effects for later health and future generations.

  • 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 716.

    I suppose if we can afford to pay MP`s heating bills then a little bit of cash for new mum`s aint that bad. Maybe the governments conscience is kicking in as we near an election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    Utterly baffling, nonsense.

    The NHS is collapsing and the govt / MRC want to give women £200 to do the thing they are by definition, biologically evolved to do?

    Can i get £200 to encourage me to breathe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    So, we're paying parents so that they'll act responsibly! Something is very wrong. This appears to be too much carrot and not enough stick.

    There should be parenting licenses in this country. Until you're passed as a fit parent, you receive no tax breaks or benefits in relation to children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    bit dicrimative against the ones who would like to but cant through various problems!!!! yeah blatently discrimative

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    So this is being trialled in deprived areas - surely if people are really that hard up then surely using "free" milk provided by mother nature is surely the most sensible thing to do, rather than buying imported rubbish.

    As for paying them to breast feed - no wonder the NHS is over spent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    Who thought this up as a novel way to divert funds in the NHS ? Meanwhile Heart Surgery is put of due to no Funds , Nurses sacked due to no funds , And a post code lottery for Life saving drugs , Due to NO FUNDS . Meanwhile our Tax Money is given to new Mums £200 , some which will of course end up on Booze and Fags . Leaves one speechless !

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    Who's idea was this?? Sometimes I wonder how people that come out with such ideas are in a position of trust and in charge of public money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    Is breastfeeding better than formula, if so why and some science to back it up"

    No it isn't. You'll find plenty by a simple google search. Some have provided links. Plus the rather obvious fact that breast milk is the outcome of millions of years of evolution

    I still haven't had an answer why those who can but don't shouldn't be encouraged to do so just because a small number can't

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    At the start of the Second World War when they wanted women to work, it was bottle feeding was best.
    At the end of the War when they wanted jobs freed up for men, it was breast feeding was best.
    Now, a whole of reasons except with this joined up Government, IDS wants them working and now Cameron doesn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    It would seem that this government thinks that money solves all problems. Try education and support, that has been know to work too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    Agreed, it seems an ill thought through scheme. There are loads of legitimate reasons why women can't breast feed, but I think this is more about addressing problems with younger mothers especially, who don't believe it is 'cool' or believe myths about it effecting how they look. Saying society frowns upon it is also unfair - hardly seen anyone frown on my wife breastfeeding in public.

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    This is so ridiculous and unfair. My nephew did not latch on at all and it wasn't due to his mother not trying. Sometimes it just doesn't happen. This same principle applies to not being able to collect points on milk powder in Boots for example. Clearly not thinking of those who can't, only those that don't want to. A stupid incentive for something that should be natural and a mothers choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    It's a pilot. It might work, it might not. Spends might tempt a few women who wouldn't otherwise but it won't keep them going for 6 months.
    I breast fed both my boys 1st exclusively, 2nd mix n match after 2months.
    Support, both professional and from friends and family, is what helps you keep going. As does a realistic attitude to how hard it can be (just cos its natural doesn't mean its easy!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    Unbelievable! There is a massive financial incentive to breastfeed already in that IT IS FREE!!!!! Those that try breastfeeding and then stop do so because either they physically can't or they don't have enough support. Those who do not even try do so through choice and I've no problem with that I would raise serious questions if £200 is enough to change their mind!

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    Some of my comments have been critical of the lack of our nation to breastfeed as much as our scndainavian neighbours - I wonder if our diets make diminish or reduce the quality / availability of a mothers milk. Eating good protein / fats is important when nursing - we are so obsessed with high carb - low fat, perhaps our kids turn their noses up at whats on offer?


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