New Mums Breastfeeding their Babies will Receive Incentive
Under a new scheme, new mothers will be offered £200 in shopping vouchers to encourage them to breastfeed their babies.
The scheme, funded through a collaboration between government and the medical research sector, for the moment is in its pilot phase. It's being targeted at some of the most deprived areas of of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, where rates of breastfeeding mothers are very low compared to the national average: just one in four mothers are breastfeeding by the six- to eight-week mark.
Under the scheme the new mums will be rewarded with the £120 worth of shopping vouchers if they breastfeed their babies for the first 6 weeks, with the remaining £80 awarded at the 6 months mark.
Although the use of financial incentives is not new in the NHS, it is the first time it has been tried for breastfeeding.
At the basis of this project lay the notion that breastfeeding, and the lack of it, determine the future well-being of a child, in respect to his/her health as much as leading to better educational attainment. Because not all mothers are fully aware of this, or have the right support to go through breastfeeding, many children miss out on this highly beneficial process, which create health and social inequalities.
The experts leading the scheme, amongst them Dr Clare Relton of Sheffield University, hope that the financial incentives will help towards the aim of making breastfeeding seen as the norm.
However, it has been questioned whether the initiative could really help in areas where not enough staff are provided or have the means and knowledge to support new mothers who want to breastfeed.
Indeed, support at 360 degrees for new mums and babies is what breastfeeding really needs to be restored back as the norm in this country.
Can the scheme really work? Shouldn't a mother breastfeed in the best interested of her child? Well, yes definitely, and she should receive much needed support and sound information. However, in many cases, a little help would mean more new mums would be willing to 'break the ice'.
If the scheme does work in the selected areas, a national pilot could be planned for next year.