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 841.

    The latest research would suggest that the difference in outcomes for bottle and BF babies has been hugely exaggerated. Unless in a developing country without access to clean water, infant formula is perfectly safe. Any benefits (in terms of antibody transference etc) are certainly NOT significant enough to justify this all-out demonisation of women who make the perfectly valid choice not to BF.

  • rate this

    Comment number 840.

    Never heard anything so stupid. The Government has money to throw away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 839.

    What next? Get £200 for having your kids vaccinated, £300 if you stop smoking for 6 months, £500 if you walk your kids to school. I know the benefits, that's why I did it for no payment. I also know the downside for not doing it...but REALLY!

  • rate this

    Comment number 838.

    My MOT is due next week. Maybe I should be paid £200 to get it done, on the grounds that it is better for society to ensure we have safe cars on the roads! I am sorry I cannot take this seriously. The issue is not whether breast feeding is better or not, but the sheer lunacy of bribing people to do the correct thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 837.

    ..@809. tiredallthetime.." I HAD to have a c.section as I had problems, I didn't go I to labour which is the trigger for producing breast milk."
    Clearly not true for every woman. Our two were born by c-section, and my wife breast-fed both up to 5 months, with a night-time 'cuddle-feed' up until 12 months. Out and about, they were breast fed discretely. That was 30 years ago - what has changed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 836.

    mums are already given vouchers for fresh cows milk and formula milk so why give them more for something their body produces , my body produces urine give me £200 to go to the pub please and to support my pubs landlord at this difficult time .

  • rate this

    Comment number 835.

    This is just wrong. I had real trouble when I started breastfeeding. I persevered & it paid off, but it was a very difficult time & I felt under enormous pressure.

    I went to a breastfeeding support clinic where two nurses did their best to support an oversubscribed group of anxious tearful women, once a week.

    Give mothers proper, daily support at birth, not a voucher for new look.

  • rate this

    Comment number 834.

    789.Alaric the Visigoth
    33 Minutes ago
    "CURTAINS 2012
    Why not read the Koran to see how such issues were handled when God's Messenger was on Earth?"

    Alternatively he could read the Biblical story of Onan in Genesis 38 to see that God's wrath on such activities is (reportedly) far older.


    If you compare the texts, you will see that gound = BAD, child's clothing = GOOD.

  • rate this

    Comment number 833.

    601. Are we broke yet

    It would be best to put the seat up/or down first and then wash your hands rather than recontaminate them again...

  • rate this

    Comment number 832.

    As a certain MP, Mr Clegg wants new mums to go back to work within 2 weeks of giving birth (sharing baby care with dad) how can she breast feed. Total exhaustion will take away any milk she has. New mums need at least six months off, not just to breast feed baby but to bond. Impossible in two weeks. We do not all have a live in nanny, even if we did I doubt if we would work just after two weeks

  • rate this

    Comment number 831.

    Blatant nannying by welfare state politicians slapping together shameless programs aimed at winning votes from specific groups in society.

    We should decry such behaviour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 830.

    What would really have helped me is advice on how to BF discretely in public, so I didn't feel housebound:
    - clothes to wear (e.g., 'batcape'), how to get sorted so as not to flash anything
    - equal weight given to mums' wellbeing, feminine identity and dignity (instead of being made to feel like a slave to baby)

    Society is changing - perhaps building mums' self-confidence is next step?

  • rate this

    Comment number 829.

    Re 821

    "This has to rank amongst the most nutty, PC, nanny state ideas that the New Labour nutters ever invented"

    Where have you been?

    New Labour are out of office. This bonkers idea can most probably be traced back to Nick Clegg and his waste of space colleagues in the Libby Dems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 828.

    I'm sure they'll soon be paying us to have sex next.

  • rate this

    Comment number 827.

    People should be discouraged from having kids in the first place. Not given money to breastfeed. Public funding should be spent on things that can be accessed by everyone - schools, public transportation, arts and science funding, etc. If the woman wasn't planning on breastfeeding anyways, but decides to for 200 quid, should they be having a kid? Why subsidise something that benefits so few?

  • 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 824.

    And who exactly is going to monitor the situation?

    I mean, if there's no-one else interested then...............

  • rate this

    Comment number 823.

    "She said the answer lay in making sure there were enough staff available to provide comprehensive support to new mothers after birth".

    Shouldnt she be more concerned about the baby than the after birth?

  • rate this

    Comment number 822.

    Has the NHS got a cash surplus because of underspending their budget or something? By all means, provide advice and assistance to women who are having problems feeding baby or are working mothers who don't have time. But giving them £200 as an incentive is carrying the welfare state too far


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