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 1121.

    It would be better to give the £200 to department stores and cafés as an inducement to provide supportive environments and comfortable surroundings for women to breastfeed in.


    Better still, don't take it from the taxpayer in the first place.

    I am getting fed up with, and don't see why I should fund the lifestyle choice of others to have children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1120.

    @Mimi just because something didn't happen in your family doesn't make it ridiculous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1119.

    1115. You

    Just worked it out, we've missed out on £10,400!!

    I wasn't Breastfed so my maths is not so good,

    My kids might complain about Breast milk for Dinner again, but £800 a year buys a lot of Playstation games.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1118.

    Breastfeeding until 6 months is ridiculous. I wasn't breastfed for that long, neither was my brother, because our mum couldn't keep up with a growing baby's appetite. It hasn't caused me any harm, in education or health. These people need to address the problem better and not cause those of us already grown up to put blame on our mothers for not breastfeeding if we don't do well in school!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1117.

    This money could be so much better spent encouraging mothers to breastfeed through education and support. People assume that to breastfeed all you have to do is shove the nipple in babies mouth, it is in no way that simple for every mother which can lead a very natural thing turning into pain and discomfort when done incorrectly due to a posture error leading to poor latching.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1116.

    unbelievable! This government still like to dabble in socialism at our expense.

    Why on earth should the taxpayer fund mothers of babies to do something that they should be doing anyway. If they help and advice through the NHS, that's fine. But paying them to feed their own children properly is just nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1115.

    This is just wrong. What about after 6 months, another scheme to pay £200 to not feed them Mars Bars as a diet?

    More non judgemental help and advice for Mothers and Fathers on child nutrition is better.

    But, my children are 14 and 12 now. We could have pocketed £5200 by now if this scheme was around when they were born. Missed out there. £200 every 6 months, that's right isn't it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1114.

    35'ish years ago my wife was not able to satisfy our first son adequately so he had to have bottles, very quickly we had to add suppliment to those feeds because they were not enought for him. We had to add so much suppliment that we had to enlarge the teat holes so that he could feed adequately.

    Not all babies are the same. Not all solutions suit every situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1113.

    If we are dealing with a mother who might make her choice of whether to breastfeed based on 200 pounds of vouchers, would not it be better and save NHS even more money, if these mothers received vouchers for not having children?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1112.

    May be double the incentives for breast feeding in highly visible public place!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1111.

    It would be better to give the £200 to department stores and cafés as an inducement to provide supportive environments and comfortable surroundings for women to breastfeed in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1110.

    I experienced numerous midwives, HV's & GP's who were unforgivingly inexperienced on common problems associated with BF. Educating health prof & mothers must be more beneficial than vouchers? A friend of mine heard a mother on the maternity ward announce she wasn't going to BF as she believed that BF can ruin the shape/size of the breast, in fact it is pregnancy not BF which can alter the breast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1109.

    Nice biased choice of "Editors Picks" as usual.

    The fact is for low income mothers formula is subsidised, whereas the associated costs of breast feeding (pads, pumps, etc) aren't which is bloody ridiculous as it stands.

    Misinformation is a big problem too, so many times I've heard "I won't breast feed because it'll make my boobs sag".

  • Comment number 1108.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1107.

    How can chaps earn their vouchers?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1106.

    I think a mother should get support with either option of feeding, it's hard enough being a first time mother without prejudice from either side. There should be more support for those that do want to feed but it's equally important to support those that can't. Surely the important thing is a happy, healthy, thriving baby and a happy settled mother?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1105.

    ...I agree that if women are new to breastfeeding, they should have access to the best information on how to do it and overcome any problems with it (and there are potentially many which are so difficult and painful that advice is necessary or people may give up). They need support on many levels, not just a measly £200 which may get her a winter coat and half a buggy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1104.

    I found it very difficult to breastfeed and when I asked for help everyone was too busy, even my health visitor didn't have time. I was left feeling like a failure and so gave up on the idea, bought a pump and expressed my milk for three months. The money needs to be spent on more breastfeeding counsellors not on the women themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1103.

    Most new mums realize the benefits of breastfeeding, the fact that the breastfeeding rates go down by the six to eight week mark is only a reflection of the inadequate amount of breastfeeding support out there, and the painful after-effects of poor technique. There is enough pressure on new mums as it is to breastfeed, which makes new mums feel like they are a failure if they can't do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1102.

    I think the Editors' Picks here present breastfeeding negatively. I agree that financial incentives for breast feeding are ethically questionable. However, various strategies have to be tried to improve the rates of breast feeding, so that it becomes more common. The more breast feeding becomes embedded in UK culture,the more pregnant women will attempt it with confidence and positivity.


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