Should New Mums Be Bribed to Breastfeed?

21 November 2014

Should New Mums Be Bribed to breastfeed?

According to a news story in today's Telegraph newspaper, the NHS is planning to "bribe' new mums to breastfeed, in a bid to tackle the low rates of breastfeeding in parts of the UK.

The paper reports:

"Trials which offered women up to £200 in shopping vouchers if they breastfed their children found half of those offered the initiative signed up for it, and two thirds breastfed for six weeks."

"Now researchers have expanded the controversial experiment."

"More than 4,000 women will now be offered the scheme, which pays out £120 in vouchers for those who breastfeed for six weeks, rising to £200 for those who reach six months."

It's hoped if that offering vouchers for breastfeeding will significantly increase what an expert called "stubbornly low breastfeeding rates" and be a "cost effective use of UK public funds".

Call me naive, but I just can't see that slinging wads of cash at women who would otherwise choose not breastfeed is really all it takes to make them change their minds.

But if it does, then I don't mind admitting that I'm in favour of the plan. If that's what it takes to help persuade mums to breastfeed their babies, then I can't really see what the fuss is about. Yes, it would be lovely if more mums felt inclined to breastfeed without there having to be a financial incentive for doing so, but it's a decision that does require support.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this. If you didn't breastfeed, would you have considered doing so in return for shopping vouchers which could be spent on nappies, baby clothes, groceries and other essentials for the family?

Or are you a mum who did breastfeed but feels that the scheme is in some way inappropriate? Let the debate begin...

Image credit: Flickr/Sergio Maistrello

18 comments

  • kellkell85
    my other half desperately wanted to breastfeed but was unable to, that would mean we wouldn't be eligible for cash despite believing in breastfeeding newborns.
  • bex12345
    I think it's sad that we live in a society where some women need a financial incentive, to encourage them to do what is proven to be best for their babies, however, if it works, then more babies will be getting a better start in life!
  • muppetmarbles247
    I see it as ridiculous! Ive got 2 children my 1st was combined feeding as I didn't produce enough milk & she was a very lazy baby so had to also have bottle but my 2nd was breastfed up til 14months old. being given coupons shouldn't dictate how u feed ur child? What about the mums that can't physically breastfeed anyway not fair on them is it! Why should they have to pay mother's to do it a certain way! They can tell u they breastfeeding but unless u turn their house into big brother how can u make sure they are full on feeding them or just saying it to get the vouchers anyway??
  • 1mum1982
    What about all those new mum's who would love to breastfeed but aren't able too??? I really wanted to feed my son myself and tried in vain, through cracked nipples and mastitis I battled on for nearly two weeks and my milk didn't come in. I don't think it's a fair trail to be honest but then again I wouldn't want payment in return for what's best for my child.
  • hazelbegg1978
    Not exactly fair....I've breatfed all of my kids aged 18,11,7 and still breastfeeding my 12week old daughter! Are they planning to back date this???
  • Joglover
    When my daughter was born I wanted to breast feed because there are so many benefits that can come from it. It's natural and what I wanted to do. I breast fed for the first two weeks but I was extremely upset by the large number of difficulties I faced and a huge lack of help. It would not have made a difference if there was a money incentive or not. I had to make the decision to move onto formula because that was best for me and my daughter. If the £200. Was put towards having more support and help from the NHS then I may have been able to continue feeding for longer and avoid feeling like I had failed.
  • lacostechic
    I find this very unfair because i wanted to breastfeed my lg. And got no support whatsoever. I was rushed down for an emergency c section due to babys heart rate dropping but when they got me to theatre i was fully dilated so they got me to push. Afterwards i was bedridden with a delayed epidural which kicked in after the birth and a catheter. I was dumped in the corridor with my partner and lg awaiting a bed. My midwife finished her shift minutes after me giving birth and all i remember is a snobby nurse walking past me saying 'have you fed it yet?' I was a first time mum i hadn't got a clue how to initiate breastfeeding. I was left alone as everyone just walked straight past me. It was a good job i took the disposable bottles with me else my lg would have starved. Do no you shouldnt be rewarded if you arenr given support or are unable to breastfeed.
  • ellerushton
    I breast feed both of.my.youngest for nearly 2 yrs as thats what woman breast society state is the best for your child wether i got.offered.money.or.not.is.not the subject isint whats best for mum and baby i know some new mums cant and try but no luck and.if you threw a.1000 pounds at them make no difference i have also had experience with my eldest who wouldnt breast feed so he was.bottle feed.i.just dont think there is enough support for the mums .... to help as i know.a.few tes in.hospitals nurses aftet a few attempts will just say use a bottle and its not there fault.its cause there short staffed etc...
  • MichelleOxford
    I think instead of offering vouchers to the mums who couldn't care less, use the budget to hire breastfeeding advisers for the maternity ward so the mums who actually want to do it have the support they need. I am still breastfeeding my daughter and I found that even though I spent a day and a half in hospital after I had her the ward staff were not very supportive or helpful and when I was at I home I really struggled until my community midwife came to see me, I hate to think how mums cope when they are discharged within 5 hours of giving birth!
  • Jen85
    I think they should send the money on a better support system. And also stop putting pressure on mums to breast feed, sometimes when ur always being told u must u just go stuff itn do the opposite. So many mums ive spoken to say there is too much pressure n it puts them off.
  • djulietta
    If you call it bribe or controversial plan then what do you cal thw money given to unemployed alcoholic? Give it all to mums at least they are not going to spend it on buzzz and will help babies as breastfeeding is the best what they can give to their babies. Working mums get very little or no support from government....
  • winniewick1985
    I breast fed my first child believing it to be best for mother and child...my son had silent refkux a terrible acid that caused him so much pain he constantly fed for comfort and a the same time collic do the more he fes the more pain it caused him..it brought me to the brink. ..breast is best if it work for you and your child but you should not be made to feel guilty if it doesnt work for you...three months in and and on the brink of losing it i took a stand to my gp. Husband. Parents. And stopped...do not preassure mums into something that may cause more damage than good....my daughter now two was admitted to hospital at two days old she also suffered from reflux and protein intolerence but the problem was recognised within that short time as i BOTTlE fed the second time and refused to buckle under pressure (my hosp refused to supply firmula milk)...within weeks she was on prescribed formula and happy. No mother should be bribed into breast feeding the same as no mother should feel she cant breast feed in public...its a choice that should be made by the individual.
  • fbegum
    I also had the same experience I couldn't breast feed my oldest no matter what I did. But I breastfed my second baby until she was 2. I am currently breast feeding my 11 mouth old. A lot of people still find it a issue that mum's breast feed in the developed world (best way I can put it). But in countries were it isn't as developed you will see the normality towards breast feeding. But if these new mum's need money to give their baby the best possible start in life then then I have no word to say.
  • mentalgem
    If society didnt frown upon mums for feed in public I rhink alot more mun would actually breast feed im currently feeding x and feeding in publuc is tbe hardest thing to do x
  • Oaklands321
    YES PLEASE, I've fed all 3 children for 2 years each and plan to on my forth :) if it gets more people breastfeeding then what's the problem??? Is it coming to South Wales?
  • PinkGlitter
    By breastfeeding you would end up having more than that money by not spending it on formula! Probably a good incentive for people who get free milk though.
  • Sue11111
    It's absolutely nonsense that breast feeding is cheaper than formula. While breast feeding my 2 kids I ate like a horse, typically consuming 4 or 5 meals a day. I found breast feeding to be excrutiatingly painful at times & a tediously long drawn out process. I did however persevere as I believe it's best for the babies. I was however supported by my husband and family, other people are not do lucky. If vouchers are what it takes to move breast feeding away from the realm of the middle class to those less fortunate, then those babies deserve that opportunity...
  • Lilleah
    How about they just stop pumping money into free baby milk! This governments all for throwing money as everyone then wonders why all these people that get free milk find it easier just to give the baby a bottle! I bottle fed my first as I didn't know anything about breastfeeding, it cost us silly amounts a month on formula, my second I breastfed and cloth nappied to save the money as well as knowing more about breast feeing and the benefits of it. If they stopped free milk and milk tokens to all those unless r was needed for medical purposes then I think you would see a raise in breastfeeding numbers! Not only that if people were educated more from a school level on breastfeeding it would become a natural subject rather than the taboo one it seems to be in this country!

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