Being ‘paid to breastfeed’ - your thoughts?

(590 Posts)
SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 12-Nov-13 07:23:46

The BBC's reporting this morning that new mothers living in some areas of Derbyshire and south Yorkshire are to be given vouchers for shops including Matalan, Mothercare and John Lewis if they breastfeed their babies. These will be given out as part of a study by the University of Sheffield, aimed at discovering whether “financial incentives” will increase the uptake of breastfeeding in parts of the country where rates are low; mothers will receive vouchers worth up to £120 if they breastfeed until six weeks, and another £80-worth if they continue to the six-month mark.

The scheme, according the senior researcher on the project, is intended "as a way of acknowledging both the value of breastfeeding to babies, mothers and society, and the effort involved in breastfeeding. Offering financial incentives ... might increase the numbers of babies being breastfed, and complement on-going support for breastfeeding provided by the NHS, local authorities and charities."

We've been asked by the beeb what Mumsnetters make of the idea; what's your reaction?

Sammie101 Tue 12-Nov-13 07:27:21

I think it's ridiculous!

It penalises mothers who choose to or for some reason can't breastfeed. It's a very personal choice and there's already so much pressure on mums to breastfeed, you constantly get people harping "breast is best, breast is best" and are made to feel guilty if you DON'T breastfeed. It's absolutely ridiculous.

HDEE Tue 12-Nov-13 07:28:47

How are they going to prove which mums really are breast feeding and which ones bottle feed?

What about those who bottle feed breast milk?

CillaBANG Tue 12-Nov-13 07:32:29

I don't think a financial incentive is the best idea. I am still breastfeeding at 9 months but nearly gave up at 4 weeks because no one told me just how painful, relentless and hard can be in the beginning. Better pre-birth information (which is realistic as opposed to idealistic) and post-birth support would be much more useful, including better training for midwives to spot and correct problems like tongue tie.

Wossname Tue 12-Nov-13 07:33:29

Breast feeding can be very painful and difficult to establish. £200 isnt going to make much difference to someone continuing if the support isnt there for the tough early stages.

Also, I find it fairly offensive that someone thinks giving poor women £200 is adequate remuneration for doing something they dont really want to do. (Not phrased very well but not awake yet)

Pooka Tue 12-Nov-13 07:34:33

It doesn't penalise mums who formula feed. It incentives breast feeding among a sample of about 200 women in a deprived area where breast feeding rates are low and where mums may not even consider it as an option.

If you formula feed and are on some benefits, don't you get milk tokens? What's the difference between that and this?

They're apparently running it on a trust basis.

Dillytante Tue 12-Nov-13 07:38:19

It has been well demonstrated in the psychological literature that rewards such as this are completely counter productive. They actually decrease motivation to continue the behaviour, punish those who don't do it, and make something seem harder or less worthwhile than it should be, after all, if you need to be paid to do something it must be something you wouldn't really want to do for free right?

It's a ridiculous idea which completely ignores the root of the problem which is poor breastfeeding advice & support & lack of realistic information on how hard it can be. Better to spend that money on more breastfeeding counsellors and to support voluntarily run breastfeeding groups.

Pooka Tue 12-Nov-13 07:39:46

Personwlly, I think the idea is interesting and may have a positive impact. However, it should be in conjunction with better breast feeding support and help for all breast feeding mothers. I feel that if they are offering financial incentive without adequate breast feeding support, then the scheme pays lip service to wanting to increase rates of feeding rather than actually getting to the root cause of the poor rates in this country as a whole.

The idea of some women being entitled to something I wasn't and wouldn't be (breasted, but not in the areas chosen for the study and not on a low income) doesn't bother me. I'm not entitled to the money and wouldn't be. That doesn't mean offering it is wrong when the aim is a good one - to encourage mothers who maybe wouldn't have thought about breast feeding because of a formula feeding culture in their area/their own mothers formula fed/they don't feel it's for them.

Dillytante Tue 12-Nov-13 07:40:46

Also, what will happen to breastfeeding rates when the vouchers inevitably stop? Complete lack of motivation to do so because you've removed all intrinsic motivation. (Erm, can you tell I'm studying motivation for my degree at the moment?!)

Sammie101 Tue 12-Nov-13 07:42:54

Pooka if it's an incentive then it's a pretty crap one! As a previous poster has said, £200 isn't much considering how hard breastfeeding can be, especially in the early days when you're just getting started. To me it feels like they are trying to guilt people who want to formula feed.

I breastfeed my baby but would have given up after the first 2 days because of the pain. Every single midwife I saw said I just had to "persevere" because she was latched on correctly and doing everything right. It was only when I saw a fantastic lactation consultant who saw straight away that she wasn't sucking correctly. If I still had that pain I wouldn't care if the government were offering me £120 to keep breastfeeding, I would have stopped because I would have been miserable.

MummyBeerest Tue 12-Nov-13 07:43:26

Huh...that's. ..different.

I honestly think it's an interesting idea. On the one hand, I don't see how it's much different from formula companies mailing free samples or giving away swag for new parents. We got a diaper bag from Nestle for free, with a bunch of free samples of their formula/baby food that all went untouched. I like the bag though.

I think the guidelines for how long you breastfeed are a bit tricky though. For example, I'm still nursing my 15mo dd-surely, could I get a £1000 voucher?

Probably not. Because most people don't care.

If women are doing it for the free swag, it doesn't really promote bfing for its benefits.

Pooka Tue 12-Nov-13 07:44:40

Doth mean when the vouchers stop when the baby is a certain age? By which time I'd assume breast feeding would be well established and the baby would have been breastfed for some months? If pele w likely to give up at that point, when the moneystops, the baby has still had a good among of breast milk, and the mother may see carrying on as a good option.

If you mean when the voucher scheme stops as a whole, I'm not sure how that would impact on the sample they are looking at now.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 12-Nov-13 07:45:48

And what about woman who continue to breast feed despite the fact it's not working out and the baby isn't thriving as it should just to continue getting the vouchers.

SweetCarolinePomPomPom Tue 12-Nov-13 07:46:38

it's a terrible idea.

SweetCarolinePomPomPom Tue 12-Nov-13 07:47:17

it won't work and it is almost impossible to police.

Pooka Tue 12-Nov-13 07:50:17

Sammie - it might make a difference though. That's the point of the study- to see whether a financial incentive would improve poor breast feeding rates. It might - not everyone who chooses from the get go not to breastfeed does so because of issues of pain/tongue tie/latch/exhaustion. Some choose not to from the beginning because it isn't the norm where they live or in their family or circle of friends.

£200 is not a tiny sum if you're living in a deprived area and on benefits.

I did say that in conjunction with any incentive there should be more extensive breast feeding support for all.

merrymouse Tue 12-Nov-13 07:51:08

I think I would want to see the results of the study before commenting.

Pooka Tue 12-Nov-13 07:52:27

Quite merrymouse.

I don't see how they study can be slated if we haven't even seen what impact it does or doesn't have.

pumpkinkitty Tue 12-Nov-13 07:53:54

What about mixed feeding? Or too ups on advice from HV?

My friend has a baby who is lactose intolerant, she has to have special prescription formula. Seems a bit mean on her, she desperately tried to breast feed but it made her DD sick.

ShawnSpencer Tue 12-Nov-13 07:54:44

Are you breastfeeding? Yes I am.

How does anyone prove that statement one way or the other?

KatAndKit Tue 12-Nov-13 07:55:39

Where are my vouchers? How much do i get for 14 months? Actually i did it for the benefit of my baby. Instead of giving out public money on vouchers, why not educate people about how much money they will save by not using formula? I don't agree with this scheme, they should spend the money on improving post natal care and brestfeeding support, both of which are often woefully inadequate.

FoxyRevenger Tue 12-Nov-13 07:57:17

After a horrific 4 day labour, I was still in bed with catheter and epidural not worn off, and was handed a breast pump, taken into pieces, in jugs of Milton and told to express - at 4am with a screaming baby, after 4 full nights of no sleep.

Thinking about that night still makes me cry. And if someone had turned up at my bedside with £200 it wouldn't have made the slightest fucking difference.

I wouldn't have magically known how to put the breast pump together, I wouldn't have even known how to express, never mind hand express, just because there was a financial incentive.

I honestly don't know how much more obvious it can be that what women really need is support, education, access to lactation consultants in the ward etc. Not a token gesture, FFS.

Sammie101 Tue 12-Nov-13 07:59:14

Fair enough Pooka, I can see your point. It seems to me that formula feeding is more common in younger mothers (MASSIVE generalisation!) who are often from a poorer background. I'm 23 and know a few people who are my age/younger who had babies around the same time I did and most of them formula feed, probably because it's the "done thing" among people their age.

In fact I went out with my work friends not too long ago and when they asked why I wasn't drinking and I said I was going home and had to feed the baby so didn't want a drink, one of my friends actually said "ewww Sammie, that's disgusting...breastfeeding". I was a bit like shock

Don't get me wrong, £200 is a lot of money, especially for people on benefits and/or a low income, such as myself, but it wouldn't be much of an incentive for me. Besides, £200 doesn't get you much in places like John Lewis, it would be better to offer vouchers in supermarkets if anything!

Dillytante Tue 12-Nov-13 08:02:01

Pooka I mean in the population as a whole. Even if these vouchers were rolled out nationally they would inevitably be cut. What message does that send about breastfeeding? It's no longer important? I've been really Alfie Kohn's book Punished By Rewards which demonstrates vast amounts of research on the destructive nature of rewards such as this.

LittleBearPad Tue 12-Nov-13 08:04:52

I've just heard this on Radio 4. It has made me so angry.

I tried to breastfeed, I failed. My daughter wouldn't latch on and just screamed. Three midwives and a lactation consultant failed to help. I gave her formula in the end as she was losing weight (and didn't have much to lose). Given how angry I was when I heard I still feel very guilty which was a bit of a surprise to me as I'd thought I'd made my peace.

Rather than £200 in John Lewis vouchers (!) it might be a much better allocation of resources to have much more breastfeeding support, especially in hospitals where absolutely no one helped me.

tiggytape Tue 12-Nov-13 08:06:29

It is the support that is lacking not the will for most people

The figures bear this out because most mothers start off breastfeeding and the vast majority give up within months if not weeks.
The reason for this isn't that they suddenly go off the idea or decide it isn't worth it. The reason is the huge problems lots of mothers have and the lack of really intensive support that many would need to overcome those problems.
By the time they get to the giving up stage, they have probably battled for far longer than is comfortable and £2000 let alone £200 wouldn't make any difference. The guilt is probably a bigger motivation and even that isn't big enough.

It may help the very few mothers who don't choose to even try breastfeeding but I don't see it making much difference to anyone else. And if it is based on trust, it is going to be impossible to make any judgements about it at all (breastfeeding is a guilt provoking subject as it is where shame might lead people to be less than honest let alone if there's a monetary element as well)

Pooka Tue 12-Nov-13 08:07:54

Oh I got the same comments in my circle of thirty something friends, sammy!

I don't think is just John Lewis vouchers though - I heard on radio this morning that were for supermarkets and some high street stores.

I dunno really. On the one hand I think it's pretty sad that financial incentive may even be necessary. At the same time I will be interested to see if the study actually shows increased breast feeding rates. But above all, I think tht all the Schemes that have been introduced still don't seem to be making up for lack of postnatal support of all kinds, including relating to breast feeding, for new mothers. In this country we've a long way to go before breast feeding becomes the norm, and I personally think its unlikely tht anything will make that much of a diffence when it still isn't the norm within many communities and families.

Kveta Tue 12-Nov-13 08:09:50

It will be interesting to see how the study pans out.

However, I can't help feeling that putting this money into supporting women, maybe funding a breastfeeding cafe, or helping LA leche league run a drop in every week, would be far far more beneficial in the long run. £200 would go a long way in helping a local lll group to run drop ins. Or could fund training of peer supporters who are available to help when new mums are desperate for a bit of reassurance that theirs is not the only baby who just wants to feed 24/7.

Certainly, I would not still be feeding my baby today if it hadn't been for the support of knowledgeable lll folk, and a brilliant health visitor. But due to funding cuts, said HV now only gets half an hour a week for bfing support clinics, where she used to run a specific 2 hour drop in every week - I know many mums who have her to thank for their positive bfing relationships, but the NHS funding is gone, so that,s that.

I suspect that shopping vouchers will have no effect long term anyway...

BasilBabyEater Tue 12-Nov-13 08:11:13

It wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference to me.

I needed well informed, intensive support from someone who knew how to support a breast-feeding mother to actually do it.

I got a HV who knew sweet FA about BF and voluntary counsellors who were brilliant, but 2 bus rides away once a week. I needed one in walking distance every day.

All the vouchers in the world are irrelevant without proper breastfeeding support.

Supergoogler Tue 12-Nov-13 08:12:38

Totally agree with previous posters - money should be spent on better support! Give people £200 vouchers towards private lactation consultants! Breastfeeding is very hard, can be painful and is extremely time consuming.

In my opinion, you have to really want to do it otherwise i think most people would give up within the first 6 weeks.

Agree with a previous poster - giving someone £200 might entice them into starting breast feeding but I suspect it will not make them continue when it all gets too much.

I think the reason people don't breastfeed is because its really not convenient in the beginning - it takes a lot of patience and perseverance and if you have other things you need to be doing other than sitting on the sofa feeding, it's really not the easiest way!

TeaAndCakeOrDeath Tue 12-Nov-13 08:12:43

Brilliant! So 5 months ago when I was weeping in agony with nipples covered in blood and a lactation specialist telling me to 'feed through it' and baby DS screaming in hunger, I should've thought of the vouchers? Because I'll be honest, £200 would make a he'll of a difference to us and so Id have felt like a failure twice over - couldn't feed my own baby or 'earn' the vouchers that wouldve helped out do much st a financially tight time (on smp)

ArgyMargy Tue 12-Nov-13 08:13:16

I think it's similar to being paid to stop smoking. It misses the point completely, which is that you need support and some women need more support than others. But support is far more expensive and requires effort from NHS services. In fact the more I think about it, the more insulted I am.

I have a theory that one of the factors linked to our low rates of breast feeding is the policy of throwing new mothers out of hospital before the milk has come in. And just as the hormonal flood arrives.

diagnosticnomansland Tue 12-Nov-13 08:14:20

I think they should plough the money into support services - the trust near me seems to rely solely on Peer Volunteers to give out advice which when you get down to it is medical advice. It was sheer determination that got me through the first few weeks and I know plenty of mothers who gave up because they received little to no support. £200 to keep breastfeeding - that's not much help when you've not slept in days and are stuck to the sofa.

How about even putting more money aside to support dads staying at home for a bit longer to help? It was after DH went beck to work that things really started to get thought - being trapped in a 1.5 hour cycle of feed/scream/scream/scream/scream/feed ad nauseum meant that something as simple as getting something to eat became almost impossible - if dad had the financial support to stay at home for the first 6 weeks perhaps more women would stick with it.

In short - a waste of money.

fanjobiscuits Tue 12-Nov-13 08:15:00

£200 for someone to check latch, tongue tie etc PROPERLY and correct where appropriate/ wanted would be more effective I suspect. Could they also trial this?

CrocodileScream Tue 12-Nov-13 08:16:44

There already is a financial benefit to breast feeding in that you don't need to but formula. Better to spend the money on round the clock realistic support.

And educate the next generation so it isn't as alien a concept.

Tabby1963 Tue 12-Nov-13 08:16:50

Personally, I think it is like paying someone to give blood. I give blood because I want to contribute to a vital service even though it is sometimes uncomfortable.

I breastfed because I wanted to contribute to my baby's health in the best way possible. I can't imagine how paying a mother with vouchers could change their minds about breastfeeding. I found bf to be challenging at the best of times but I persevered for three months with each child. I (and they) much preferred it when I moved on to bottle feeding but it was my choice to keep trying with the breastfeeding for my baby's benefit not for 'vouchers', if that makes sense.

Pooka Tue 12-Nov-13 08:17:06

See I was lucky. My mum breastfed me and my brothers and was an immense support. Her mum breastfed her. So on my side of the family it was the norm.

diagnosticnomansland Tue 12-Nov-13 08:17:33

Another thought - the UK is very baby unfriendly, especially for breastfeeding mothers. There is not one comfortable clean breastfeeding area that I can find in my city apart from Mothercare. Many mothers are happy to breastfeed in public, but many others don't have the confidence to do that. The option would be nice.

biryani Tue 12-Nov-13 08:20:12

Daft idea, in my view. Just been listening to the report on Radio 4. It's only a study, though, so time will tell whether it's workable.

According to one interviewee, there are already schemes in being that incentivise breast feeding in these areas anyway.

I agree with the poster who suggested a campaign based on the idea that breast feeding is cheaper.

What annoys me most about these sorts of initiatives is the assumption that women are unable to make informed decisions for themselves. Is there any evidence that proves that formula is bad for babies? I've yet to see it if there is.

Sammie101 Tue 12-Nov-13 08:20:17

Pooka it's so sad that people can make thoughtless comments like that, she made me feel like a bit of a freak show when she said it!

I definitely agree, I think the money would be better spent on improving breastfeeding support.

It will be interesting to see if the results show an increase in the number of breastfeeding mothers but I personally don't think it will.

HandMini Tue 12-Nov-13 08:21:17

I agree with PPs who have said put the money towards breastfeeding support.

I paid around £200 for tongue tie snip, lactation consultant and private GP for mastitis antibios with DD2 (and yes, I could have got all this on the NHS (apart from perhaps the lactation consultant) if I had been prepared to wait 4 weeks....I wasn't).

It would have been amazing to have that help freely available, much more so than a bloody JL voucher.

Fluffytent Tue 12-Nov-13 08:21:42

This trivialises women who do breastfeed to no more than Pavlov's dog. Think about it, that disgusting. We should all be angry at this regardless of if we do or don't.

TheXxed Tue 12-Nov-13 08:21:47

Hey pumpkinkitty, my baby has a lactose intolerance and i still breastfeed. I just cut dairy out of my diet.

I think the vouchers could be a great idea, just think about how much money formula milk companies spend on advertising. Something needs to be done to redress the balance.

I feel if they were supermarket vouchers to buy good nutritional food for the mother then that would be slightly more logical (similar to the milk tokens for formula - though I don't know if they still do these ?)
It does seem slightly patronising to bribe people with vouchers for JL - and IMHO the money won't go far there!

I think something like the breastfeeding cafes and support groups run in Sure Start centres are more likely to make a difference - oh wait, they closed the Sure Start centres didn't they ? confusedhmm

Anyfuckerisnotguilty Tue 12-Nov-13 08:25:17

I'm struggling to bf a four week old newborn, esp at nights so tbh this would really help me.
I don't live in those areas though

ExcuseTypos Tue 12-Nov-13 08:26:20

Something needs to be done, the UK has sown of the lowest breast feeding rates in the world. But this is too simplistic.

We need

Better advice and support.
More areas to breast feed easily when out and about.
Get rid of page 3, so breasts aren't seen everyday, by some as nothing but sexual things.

My help with dd1 was shockingly bad. I tried for 3 weeks but tbh I didn't have a clue what I was doing. Got very stupid advice.

With dd2 I read everything I could get my hands on and ignored what any midwife told me. I bf for 14 months and absolutley loved it. I felt confident and knowledgable.

This needs to be instilled in every new mum.

AidanTheRevengeNinja Tue 12-Nov-13 08:28:19

Agree with pp. Use the money to give a goody bag with the following to every mother who wants to breastfeed:

- a voucher for an early, unrushed home visit from a lactation consultant and ready access to specialist, individual support thereafter
- a tube of Lansinoh
- a copy of The Food of Love by Kate Evans

Would do a whole lot more good than some flipping shopping vouchers.

DeathByLaundry Tue 12-Nov-13 08:28:37

Dreadfully patronising, frustratingly wasteful and completely misses the point. Those who would have breastfeed anyway will get the cash while those who would have failed due to lack of advice and support or due to social/cultural/familial factors will still fail but they'll feel worse about it.

Women who failed to successfully breastfeed don't their reasons for it not working as lack of incentive. There are plenty inherent incentives. They give reasons of poor support, bad advice, unrealistic expectations etc.

This is like saying you'll get paid an incentive if you get to 60 without developing cancer, but nobody suggests that. They suggest health education and promotion of normal exercise and eating. Which is logical. Unlike this foolish concept.

PoopMaster Tue 12-Nov-13 08:32:32

I'm breastfeeding my second DC and living it, but I think mothers fall broadly into 3 categories: those who want to BF and find it easy, those who want to BF and find it difficult, and those who don't want to (as is their right).

This scheme will reward those in the first category, won't help those in the second, and will just piss off those in the third.

Personally there's no financial incentive that would make me give up BFing, I doubt a financial incentive would make someone BF who didn't want to. And those who really need help - what about them?

I'd much rather the money was spent on support in those areas.

biryani "Is there any evidence that proves that formula is bad for babies?
I've yet to see it if there is"

There is a lot of evidence to show that breast-feeding will give your child many health benefits, and compared to formula feeding, will reduce the risks of a number of illnesses, such as gastro-intestinal upsets, and a whole list of other things every mother would rather their baby didn't experience.
That you haven't heard this shows that not everyone has been given the message that, where possible, breast is best. And shows what a good job the formula manufacturers do in promoting their inferior product of dried cow's milk.

LineRunner Tue 12-Nov-13 08:34:17

I think breastfeeding mothers have to put up with enough crappy comments without 'Oh, are you doing it for the shopping vouchers?' being added to the list.

<thinks of exMiL and clenches teeth>

joeymacc Tue 12-Nov-13 08:34:21

It will most likely end up as a nice bonus for those who had already decided to bf and were willing to persevere, and another thing to make people feel bad who tried to bf and found they couldn't (for whatever reason).

I'm not sure it will make a difference to those who have no plans to even try. It might make someone who was about to give up at 4 or 5 weeks a bit of a push to hang on another week or two, during which time it might all fall into place, so she might carry on beyond six weeks?

I agree with most posters, it would be better spent on support and additional education for midwives and health visitors.

RunningKatie Tue 12-Nov-13 08:34:34

I live in Sheffield, not sure what areas this scheme is to cover but given all the cuts to children's centres etc. it's a lot.more difficult to access support than it used to be.

When I had ds i was told i would be contacted by a bfspw within days, it didn't happen and i was in such pain. I knew it wasn't right and went to get help myself at a dropin session (which has now closed). This then led to lots of home based support which was perfect as i have a toddler too.

But, i've bf before and am confident (and stubborn) enough to persist and find help, £200 wouldn't have made a difference to me, real life support made a huge difference.

milk Tue 12-Nov-13 08:40:35

Fantastic, but only if I can get a back-payment! I breastfed DS1 until 10mo and DS2 until 6mo. £400 would be lovely grin

Bumper1 Tue 12-Nov-13 08:40:47

I find this really interesting. Surely before any initiative is introduced, some effort to understand why women don't start or continue to breastfeed need to be understood? I have never seen a study reflecting that. All sorts of assumptions are being made by introducing this scheme.

It made me very angry when I heard this on the radio this morning. I think it is irrelevant if you breastfeed or not, as someone said up thread, we should all be angry about how patronising this scheme is and how it demonstrates a lack of understanding of what women are going through in the weeks after giving birth.

I'm so cross I can't articulate what I want to say very well, but on the BBC news page, the Royal College of Midwives say exactly what most on this thread are saying, more support needed for women not shopping vouchers.

ThursdayLast Tue 12-Nov-13 08:41:14

I agree with what a lot of other posters have said, it is far too simplistic a way of 'encouraging' bf.
The money would be much better spent training HVs in bf support, or creating more bf support worker roles and funding their travel.
It's patronising to the people in the trial. I understand that there is poverty in this country but bf is FREE anyway!
How would you police it?
And talk about a quick way to de-motivate the millions of women who bf for the love of their child.

PoopMaster Tue 12-Nov-13 08:41:48

* loving it, not living it...apparently my iPhone is more ambivalent on the subject smile

milk Tue 12-Nov-13 08:41:50

But seriously, I believe more human support will make the difference to people continuing to breastfeed.

NanooCov Tue 12-Nov-13 08:44:28

It reminds me of one of the Superfreakonomics experiments where they gave underachieving US high school students a cash reward for each good grade they got. Can't recall if that worked or not -it's a while since I watched the documentary. Similar idea to paying kids to stay on longer at high school too I suppose (though not sure if they still do this). I think you have to bear in mind that the trial is not aimed at women who want to breast feed but have encountered difficulties which have caused them to stop (due to lack of support or otherwise), but those who would not have considered it in the first place. I'll reserve judgement until after the trial I suppose.

ExcuseTypos Tue 12-Nov-13 08:51:28

According to the woman on Radio 4 this morning, in some areas people have been paid to lose weight and it has been successful.

She also said in some cities, 1 an 5 will bf whilst a few miles away, 4 out of 5 will. She said it has become a socio/economic issue. Hence the economic incentives for some areas.

Fluffytent Tue 12-Nov-13 08:56:36

1 it treats all women as having Pavlovian response- ignoring the complexities in breastfeeding. Good doggy.

2 Its a poor experiment in its set up - this will purely rely on "honest" answering of questions when the midwife does her flying visit.

3 This is meant to charge us all up into a pro and anti debate when the real issue is being ignored. Good doggy.

PoopMaster Tue 12-Nov-13 08:59:24

But Excuse - those different rates are due to socioeconomic factors, not just economics. So in poorer areas it might be that mothers are more affected by attitudes such as "boobs/women's bodies are for men to look at" or "only hippies breastfeed".

IMO cash incentives won't change those attitudes, whereas more positive advertising would. Imagine if there were more BFing women on TV, for example. Not in an obvious in-your-face-way, but just sitting in the background on soaps for example. Or if we saw pics of celebs BFing.

AfricanExport Tue 12-Nov-13 09:02:53

I am pretty sure that £200 would be better spent ifused to pay for a full days worth of support for every mother. Imagine having a Mothers Support person visiting you for say a day or 2 half days after birth. answering your questions, teaching you to breast feed and just being there. Obviously some could opt out of this help. And they would be creating jobs at the same time. Not just throwing more money into the pit.

Mumraathenoisylion Tue 12-Nov-13 09:06:15

I agree with fluffy I am not an animal or a child who needs incentivising.

Unfortunately I couldn't breastfeed as much as I wanted to as mentally I had some issues regarding breastfeeding. So if I was being offered £200 I would feel like my issues were being minimalised and could add to the risk of pnd.

This money would be better spent on offering advice and help for breastfeeding if this is what is deemed the most important factor in bringing up a child.

OR....it could be put into parenting classes, childcare help, health visitor checks, midwifery services, books for children or any of the other critical parts of having and bringing up a child.

SpookyRestingFace Tue 12-Nov-13 09:09:10

I'm very pro breastfeeding and do think it is in any country's interests to encourage it. But this seems simplistic and ill-thought-out. There are so many reasons why women don't or can't breastfeed, and of those I think

"Well I could but I won't unless there's something in it for me"

must be a vanishingly tiny proportion!

Would have been nice a few years ago when mine were babies though

TheHeadlessLadyofCannock Tue 12-Nov-13 09:09:38

It makes about as much sense as giving people financial incentives to get married; that is, no sense at all.

Completely agree with those saying the money would be better used on raising awareness of the health and longer-term financial benefits of breastfeeding, support and guidance for breastfeeding mothers, and also support for those who can't or don't want to on other ways to feed.

BoohPear Tue 12-Nov-13 09:10:14

I live in South Yorkshire and took my 3 month old to the GP for suspected reflux. She automatically assumed I was FF and then got confused when I said I was giving 10+ feeds a day. I'm still breast feeding now at 7 months.

Vouchers for me would have been nice, a bonus for something I was doing anyway and to help through a tough financial time but obviously I am breast feeding because I want to.

It would be lovely to get to a stage where doctors automatically assume you are BF but these vouchers will not make that happen.

I had reasonable support in hospital, they asked for me to stay in one more night as dd still hadn't fed properly. I got one to one support for short time to sort positioning/latch and on day 3 my baby finally got it and we could go home. Once home I got no support but researched things myself like cluster feeding etc and we have muddled along till now.

I think more support at hospital and once you are home is vital. I have never got my baby latched on one side without pain so I just feed off one boob now. In the first few weeks you are not in the real world enough to fight to find that support yourself, if it came knocking on your door you'd welcome it with open arms.

Coupon Tue 12-Nov-13 09:14:09

I was unable to breastfeed, despite all the right support etc. and felt horribly guilty and upset about it, just when I was trying to settle in to being a new mum. I was already doing my best and no voucher would have helped.

SaltySeaBird Tue 12-Nov-13 09:16:23

I think it offers all the wrong motivations for breastfeeding. It isn't something you should be "paid" to do.

The money saved on formula is financial enough reward.

Too many mothers don't breastfeed because in the early days it is the harder option. I've got friends who said they wanted to breastfeed, were well educated as to the benefits and had the support offered. Yet within a week they were formula feeding.

"It was too painful"
"I couldn't get the baby to latch"
"My baby lost weight and wasn't thriving"
"My baby just wanted to feed all the time, he obviously wasn't getting enough and it was exhausting"

One friend said she was determined to breastfeed before giving birth. She had trouble getting the baby to latch and said it was painful. I arranged a breast feeding counsellor to visit her at her home to help her with positioning and to give her general support. She ended up cancelling the appointment and sending her husband out to get formula because she couldn't bear it any longer (baby was 3 days old).

There is the support out there (not always obviously but it is there if people want it) but people are too quick to give up. Medical professionals are too quick to say stop as well. I had awful problems and was told by a GP that surely I was going to stop and put DD on forumula soon so she would sleep better. She was 6 weeks old.

I did go on to BF for a full year but it was education (I knew it was better for me and baby), convenience (after a tricky start it was much easier than faffing with bottles) and money saved on buying formula that motivated me. You have to really WANT to BF though and I don't think paying mothers will create the right motivations.

Also, sometimes it isn't right for everyone. Some people genuinely can't. Surely this will make them feel worse at a very vunerable time.

TarkaTheOtter Tue 12-Nov-13 09:17:18

I expect the reporting on this is being a bit disengenous. Sounds like an academic study on the role of incentives in public health rather than a proposed govt initiative. They have probably chosen bfing to study exactly because of the media storm it would create - thus improving their research "impact".

mrsmartin1984 Tue 12-Nov-13 09:17:19

Knowing that I am doing what is best for my child's health, my health and the environment was all the encouragement I needed. Surely if they are serious about raising the rates of breastfeeding then they should look at support during the early days/weeks is the most important. Stop all the crap advice going around

And for goodness sake lets not talk about "women who can't breastfeed" as the norm. They are the very very small minority, though allot of people put themselves in this category who find it difficult.

And lets not talk about breast being best and the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the biological norm, lets discuss the risks of formula feeding.

JRmumma Tue 12-Nov-13 09:18:42

For me personally, the reason i didn't couldn't bf was that there was absolutely zero support in the hospital, even though i ended up in tears repeatedly asking for it and my baby ended up in NICU due to dangerously low blood sugar from not feeding even though I thought he was feeding.

Similarly i asked the midwife and hv for support and apart from 'go to the local children's centre and ask' i got nothing.

I established a supply by using the hospital breast pump and so carried on expressing and feeding once home, but had to stop at 6 weeks as i couldn't cope with the demands of having to express and bottle feed which wad twice as much work as doing one or the other.

I was devastated that i could no longer give my baby breast milk, but offering me £200 in this situation would have quite frankly been an insult.

camwombat Tue 12-Nov-13 09:20:38

I think it's a terrible idea and agree with pp's that it would be a much better idea to plough that money into support not only for breastfeeding but also for those women who find for whatever that they cant breastfeed their child (rather than don't want to).

These mothers already feel bad and that they are a bad mother for not doing so. The support they receive is shocking to help them deal with this, and if they go to a feeding support group, get an earful from La Leche about how they have failed as a mother. (this is not to say all round the country they are like this)

What happens with those who dual feed, technically they are still bf just not exclusively for various reasons including medical ones. I had a run in with La Leche over this too.

Or those parents who have multiple births, where hospitals don't encourage them to ebf for fear of depression. These parents would probably find that money useful but is their mental health really worth compromising on.

All in all I don't think it's going to have the result that is intended and risks causing further issues with those who for whatever reason cant/don't ebf. Put the money somewhere else earlier on in the support system.

Loopyloulu Tue 12-Nov-13 09:21:01

I can't believe we are employing public servants to come up with ridiculous ideas like this. What a sheer waste of money during the austerity period we are in.

It's a mad idea because there is no way to prove a woman is breast feeding. I suspect that some women will 'milk the system' ( ha ha) and see it as an easy way to get their hands on hard working tax payers' money.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 09:22:45

I think we will need to wait until the results of the initial study are published - they will undoubtedly look at how mothers feel about it as well as the raw stats of breastfeeding continuation.

Incentives to adopt healthy 'behaviours' do seem to make a difference in other areas of concern, and breastfeeding is absolutely not unique in being complex and related to all sorts of social and psychological as well as practical issues.

Infant feeding can't be filed under 'personal choice' - it's far more than this. How much of a 'choice' is it, if you have friends telling you bf is 'disgusting'? Or if your mother tells you you are being 'selfish'? Or your partner tells you formula milk is better? Or if you feel embarrassed to breastfeed in front of other people in case they comment? Or if you long to breastfeed, but think there's something wrong if your baby wants to feed frequently? Etc Etc Etc.

Vouchers may go somewhere to indicate that breastfeeding has a value and is worth it! I don't know.

I do know that anyone taking it personally as a judgment on their own feeding does not need to.

Would families in poverty default to formula feeding if milk tokens didn't pay for the formula? Unfortunately I can't think of a manageable way to make sure those that genuinely struggled physically, emotionally or practically with breast feeding could still get formula paid for, but if the money that pays for milk tokens was used to pay for breastfeeding support, with funding of formula feeding as the exception rather than the rule, it would be more effective. I agree with those above who call for an investigation into why people choose to formula feed, and that normalising breastfeeding in the media and promoting celeb bf would be effective.

Everhopeful Tue 12-Nov-13 09:24:11

I'm with the camp that says the money would be better put into support mechanisms. I hate most financial "incentives" from Mummy Government, even though I would have taken it if it had been on offer when I had DD. That's simply cos I like money - how many don't? I breastfed because I thought I was doing the right thing, not because I was paid to. I especially don't like the fact that you don't have to prove it, which I reckon will lead to heaps of it going down the drain anyway. And, as LittleBearPad says, it excludes those who tried and failed (unless they lie, which evidently they could and I wouldn't entirely blame them).

The biggest thing against it is simply that it's so mechanistic. I spent months trying to explain to DH that breastfeeding is not simply a matter of "attach child and let it all happen". You have to want to do it, be in the mood to do it, your child has to want to do it, etc - too many variables all at the same time, it's a wonder it ever happens at all! Handing over some spud will not make all that any more likely.

SallRight Tue 12-Nov-13 09:24:46

Honestly, this is wrong on so many levels.

Loopyloulu Tue 12-Nov-13 09:24:55

I take the point from women here who say they wanted to BF but couldn't. However, I am pretty sure that these women are a small minority of the women who don't BF. The majority would be perfectly able to BF successfully but choose not to. This incentive is aimed at those women not the women who would like to but can't. Unfortunately there is no way of differentiating them. But the whole thrust of this incentive is to change public opinions to BF ( especially in public) and for a large sector of women who'd never consider BF to think about it and try.

However, as I said above, it can't be proved so it's a stupid idea.

Everhopeful Tue 12-Nov-13 09:26:00

Sorry for previous rant lying, naughty me Could you tell we had a few issues that a lactation consultant might have helped with wink? I didn't even know they existed till I read this thread!

SallRight Tue 12-Nov-13 09:26:24

ie being paid is wrong (sorry wasn't clear)

How many other parts of health pregnancy and parenting decisions could be moneterised (sp?)

Loopyloulu Tue 12-Nov-13 09:28:48

Aren't we in danger of confusing two issues here?

Women who dearly want to BF but had problems- ( hence all the personal stories here)and would welcome money being put into support?

And women who think BF is revolting in some way and would never even consider it?

It's the latter group who are being targeted and they are mainly poor, working class women. Not women who want to BF but can't..

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 12-Nov-13 09:29:54

Would families in poverty default to formula feeding if milk tokens didn't pay for the formula?

But someone already pointed out, it's something stupid like £12 a month that covers 1 tub of formula. They are like £9 a tub now.thats a huge chunk of a limited budget.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 12-Nov-13 09:30:35

So money isn't why poorer families ff

DontmindifIdo Tue 12-Nov-13 09:32:04

As I said on the other thread about this, the comfort milk DD has is £11.99 a tin, she goes through over a tin a week, although if I did FF her from birth, I don't think they go through a tin a week then, so it'll average out over 6 months as approximately 26 tins if you FF from birth. That's £311.74 you'd save by BFing already. Could that number be flagged up to woman more if you think that money is a driving force?

lackingideas Tue 12-Nov-13 09:35:03

I hate this idea. The money would be much better used on staff to help with breastfeeding on post natal wards, and possibly giving away nice fashionable breast feeding covers to young mums so they don't have to feel embarrassed feeding when they are out and about.

This scheme just discriminates against those who can't breastfeed and will add to the feelings of guilt when there is far too much emotional blackmail already. Most of the "facts" about the advantages of breastfeeding are based on bad statistics.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 09:36:20

I'm with TikTok - the proof of the pudding and all that.

If this scheme increases the number of women breastfeeding in communities where it has almost died out as a practice (and there are places like this in the UK where you get generation after generation of families where NO mother has EVER breastfed), then it will be a very good thing.

"Knowing that I am doing what is best for my child's health, my health and the environment was all the encouragement I needed."

But clearly this is not enough to motivate huge swathes of women in particular communities in the UK.

And this report (below) sets out the cost savings to the UK and the NHS of just modest increases in breastfeeding, which suggests that this scheme might end up paying for itself:

unicef

Sorelip Tue 12-Nov-13 09:38:04

Spend more on breadtfeeding support, and breastfeeding rates will go up.

My son lost too much weight even though I fed on demand, and we ended up back in hospital, and him screaming and refusing to latch. I was told that someone would observe me feeding and help - no one did. I gave him his first bottle of formula that night, and tried to mix feed. Three weeks later, exhausted and in pieces, I gave up pumping and used only formula. Even now I feel angry and sad about that whole time. In fact, I'm scared to even try to breastfeed again when Ds2 arrives. Vouchers would make no difference to me, I need actual support!

biryani Tue 12-Nov-13 09:39:45

juggling I didn't say that I wasn't aware of the health benefits of breastfeeding. I said that I wasn't aware of any evidence proving that formula is harmful in some way. That's not the same thing. If the Government provided figures based on in-depth analysis that demonstrate unequivocally that babies who have been breast fed have done better than their formula-fed peers-SOLELY as a result of being breast fed then that's different.

I don't think that sort of information exists. Meanwhile many, if not the majority of babies do perfectly well on formula.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 09:42:17

"Most of the "facts" about the advantages of breastfeeding are based on bad statistics."

That's a very bold statement. Do you know which studies the NHS bases its recommendations on infant feeding on? Would you be prepared to show you know which studies they are, and identify what you see as the problems?

The NHS has to make recommendations based on up to date, peer reviewed research which is considered to be of good quality. They don't just do what lots of people do on mumsnet do when it comes to discussing this issue: have a 30 second google and a brief read of the abstracts, or the Daily Express interpretation of the research.

They have panels of epidemiologists, doctors and infant feeding specialists comb through the evidence and the systematic reviews of the evidence in detail and discuss the way the studies are structured and followed up.

Is this something you've done before coming to the conclusion that the research into breastfeeding outcomes is worthless?

ElizabethJonesMartin Tue 12-Nov-13 09:44:38

The nation is a bit short of money at the moment so may not be the best time for extra spending on something like this.

I would like breastfeeding painted in a better light. Example given of women who worked full time, express milk when they are working and breastfeed as I did happily and well. Examples of how pleasurable it can be for many of us once it is established. It is one of the fondest memories of my life - that process of holding the baby close and then the beta endorphin rush as the milk "lets down". It is lovely for many of us but I never see much in the press about that aspect at all.

ITV dramas at present have almost saturation hypnosis by advert about follow on milks, something no one ever needs because your baby feeds from you so won't ever need a follow on milk ever and yet that is force fed to us by advert day after day and virtually nothing on prime time advertising about breastfeeding.

IShallCallYouSquishy Tue 12-Nov-13 09:47:10

I breastfed my DD until 12.5 months and plan to do the same for DC2 due in March. Why the bloody hell if they are only giving it to some people, shouldn't I get it too? I certainly won't count as a low income family but this isn't a benefit so shouldn't be means tested.

I was pretty angry when I heard this on the radio this morning.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 09:47:52

biryani - "I didn't say that I wasn't aware of the health benefits of breastfeeding. I said that I wasn't aware of any evidence proving that formula is harmful in some way,That's not the same thing.

Er, yes, it is smile Exactly the same thing, in fact.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of gasro-enteritis (to take just one example). Reduces compared to what? To formula feeding.
Formula feeding increases the risk of GE. Increases compared to what? To breastfeeding.

Formula feeding babies are at greater risk of GE than bf babies.

This does not mean that every ff baby will become ill - or that no bf babies get ill.

"If the Government provided figures based on in-depth analysis that demonstrate unequivocally that babies who have been breast fed have done better than their formula-fed peers-SOLELY as a result of being breast fed then that's different."

There are many, many studies (not from the government, particularly) showing exactly this. I can post references if you like, but people complain (ridiculusly) that 'you can prove anything with statistics'.

"I don't think that sort of information exists."

It does smile Bags of it.

"Meanwhile many, if not the majority of babies do perfectly well on formula." In the UK, this is true.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 09:48:28

"That's not the same thing. If the Government provided figures based on in-depth analysis that demonstrate unequivocally that babies who have been breast fed have done better than their formula-fed peers-SOLELY as a result of being breast fed then that's different."

That is what the studies - which control for a wide range of demographic factors, plus smoking, seem to show.

Mamf74 Tue 12-Nov-13 09:50:09

I have two issues with this.

The first is that, despite me wanting to bf, and the lovely nurses in hospital giving me shedloads of advice and support, my milk didn't come in. At all. Poor DD had to have formula from day 4 (well, night 4) as she was losing weight and as I was expressing it was easy to see that my milk was declining. I was willing to BF for nothing but was still unable too, and I can see this voucher system maybe being unhelpful and possibly add to PND rates for women who have been unable to feed and see this is a massive failure.

Second thing is that there are already campaigns to try and get rid of the Bounty reps, and to try and reduce to direct marketing to women in hospital. If the government are endorsing certain companies with these vouchers this could surely lead more lobbying within hospitals & maternity units, not less.

PeppermintScreams Tue 12-Nov-13 09:51:39

I'm on the fence for the moment.

As someone else mentioned, they are aiming this at new mums who wouldn't even contemplate trying to breastfeed.

Part of my job is working as a receptionist in an antenatal clinic at a children's centre in a very deprived area. We have a small number of clients who only turn up for their antenatal appointments when they need to get healthy start voucher form signed and maternity grant. It would be interesting to see if they would contemplate breastfeeding for the vouchers.

Also how does it work if they are mixed feeding? How will they know if the mums are really breastfeeding? Will they need to visit a clinic every week?

I'll definitely be interested in reading the results.

Mumraathenoisylion Tue 12-Nov-13 09:54:19

Tiktok there are many studies stating that breastfeeding isn't always best too.

nextphase Tue 12-Nov-13 09:55:01

Stop the formula vouchers.
Spend the money from this, and the formula on
a) propper breastfeeding info up front.
b) getting EVERY shift in EVERY hospital an expert who can diagnose and divide tounge ties before discharge.

Think its personally a bonkers idea, but the above would have made a massive difference to me - and removing those 3 weeks of pain would have been worth way more than £200 (but Im not on benififts)

DaddyThunder Tue 12-Nov-13 09:57:03

This is horrible. What about the women who would like to breastfeed but simply can't? Who's child won't latch on, and who gets made to feel AWFUL bu thte hospitals, midwives and health visitors.

There's everybody saying "you really should breastfeed you know if you want your baby to have the best" but there's not much saying "if you can't breastfeed, here are some other options".

Give the £200 to the women who CAN'T breastfeed in vouchers for them to buy a booby pump to help them give their baby breast milk even though they Can't latch on.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 09:57:42

"As someone else mentioned, they are aiming this at new mums who wouldn't even contemplate trying to breastfeed."

Exactly!

"I'll definitely be interested in reading the results."

Me too! I love the idea of people trying breastfeeding who would never ordinarily try it. I wonder how it would make a difference to their experience of parenting their baby.

I've heard some really moving stories on mumsnet from women in exactly this situation, who somehow ended up breastfeeding despite not planning to, and despite them feeling very, very 'meh' about doing it during the pregnancy, (because of a lack of familiarity and acceptance of it in their communities). They said that it massively boosted their confidence as mothers, made them feel incredibly proud and self-sufficient, and that they found it a really great thing to do. I think if the scheme resulted in a number of mothers having this experience then it would be an amazing thing.

seafoodudon Tue 12-Nov-13 10:00:00

A while back - although not that long ago time-wise notguilty made a comment that she was really struggling to feed, especially at night, and that she thought the vouchers would really help her. I'm genuinely really interested to hear any more about this (or if anyone else is in the same boat) - is it just that you would feel like what you were doing was valued or would the idea of the money itself make you feel like battling on?

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:00:16

"What about the women who would like to breastfeed but simply can't?"

There are already schemes in place for these women.

In our area we have a breastfeeding clinic every single day of the week somewhere in the borough.

There are also three national helplines, and volunteer peer supporters and breastfeeding counsellors in most areas.

You'd be amazed at the number of mothers who struggle with breastfeeding who for some reason choose not to access ANY of this help, despite saying they have really struggled with breastfeeding.

I'd hope that in the areas where this scheme is being launched, there is also in place other support for breastfeeding mothers.

biryani - glad to see that tiktok has replied to you - great post tiktok smile
Glad to see this thread getting the facts out there to those who've perhaps not seen them plainly put before.
There's obviously lots more work to be done in this country to make sure that all women know the facts about the benefits of breast-feeding - and therefore the comparative risks of FF. Then women can make truly informed choices about what is best for them and their babies.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 10:01:35

Mumraa - are there? Studies showing that formula feeding is better than breastfeeding? Where?

I can only think of the studies into HIV, and even then more recent work shows that truly exclusive breastfeeding gives the best outcomes.

SundaySimmons Tue 12-Nov-13 10:03:35

Unless there is a medical reason, I can't understand why breastfeeding is being described as hard.

It can be tiring in the early days but unless you are unwell, have been unwell and are recovering, or there is a physical disability with you and/or the baby that prevents breastfeeding or makes it very difficult to do, then breastfeeding is not had. I do take on board their may be certain mental health issues that could also make it difficult to breastfeed.

I don't think anyone should be paid to do it. People should be encouraged to do it by making more facilities available for those that are not comfortable in breastfeeding in public.

Personally, I discreetly fed everywhere and anywhere but understand that some women don't want to feed in front of others and that may be a reason not to breast feed.

More education in schools and at hospital check ups is where I would rather see money spent, than on paying people to breastfeed which cannot actually be proven!

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 10:04:26

DaddyThunder - 'booby pump'????

Choice of vocab. aside, if people are uncomfortable with the idea of women being incentivised to bf, how much more are they going to react to being incentivised to pump???

If women are made to feel bad because their babies cannot latch on, then you are describing poor maternity care - hope you complained if it happened to you/your DW.

gamerchick Tue 12-Nov-13 10:04:35

It's aimed at the mothers who wouldn't contemplate breastfeeding.. that's all. All I'm reading is waaaa I couldn't/wouldnt/didn't want to what about meeee I want mine it's not fair.. its discrimination.

If they were rolling out free formula for all.. There wouldn't be half as much outrage and the insults that breastfeed mothers have to put up with would have one more thing to be at the with.

I don't agree with any voucher scheme.. support should come first and foremost to help the ones who want to breastfeed but are finding it hard going. When that's established then maybe.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:04:53

"Tiktok there are many studies stating that breastfeeding isn't always best too."

That's what 'reviews of the evidence' are for though.

They look at a range of studies - how they're constructed, numbers involved, how funded etc. And they look at where the weight of the evidence falls. In the case of infant feeding the weight of the evidence falls very heavily on the side of breastfeeding as being the healthiest way of feeding a baby.

"but there's not much saying "if you can't breastfeed, here are some other options".

Given that the majority of babies over 2 weeks old in the UK are having formula milk, and given that a mother will have seen much more bottle feeding and formula than she's ever likely to have seen breastfeeding, I think it's fair to say that most people know that if you can't breastfeed you can feed your baby formula. wink

DalmationDots Tue 12-Nov-13 10:04:57

I tried to breast feed but due to cists around my nipples (sorry if TMI!) I just couldn't, it was incredibly painful and my DS wasn't getting a sufficient feed. My HV told me to stop after 10 days. I was in a real state, felt so much pressure to breast feed despite the extreme pain and getting so wound up about it. I felt like a failure of a mother.
Luckily I had a wonderful HV who just said the possible detrimental impact of me continuing- given how it was making me feel, and ending up struggling to bond with DS or with PND- just was not worth the risk.

With DD I was then pressured once again despite telling them what had happened previously and the issues with my breasts. I was told told I 'didn't stick with it long enough' and 'must be very sensitive to pain and need to just bear it'.
I did it, lasted about 7 days and then stopped as it really was horrendous and making me absolutely miserable and it was affecting my bond with DD.
This was all 20+ years ago, and pressure has been hyped up even more since then.
I find this scheme absolutely ludicrous and disgusting. Yes breast feeding is best, BUT for some it just isn't possible and pressuring mothers into it can lead to far worse consequences of PND. Bottle feeding isn't harmful for the baby, and shouldn't be dressed up that way. Mothers have a right to free choice and no stigma should be attached to either breast or bottle feeding.

gamerchick Tue 12-Nov-13 10:05:33

*be beaten with

lackingideas Tue 12-Nov-13 10:06:05

minifingers I haven't looked at this myself, but an article along these lines won an award from the Royal Statistical Society for excellence in statistical journalism so I place some weight on this.

Link to the article is here but behind a pay wall unfortunately:

www.rss.org.uk/site/cms/contentviewarticle.asp?article=592

tinierclanger Tue 12-Nov-13 10:07:36

I don't think it's anything to get angry about. For one, its just a pilot testing out the efficacy of this isn't it? If it works, that's great. If not, move onto something else.

It's true that more support is also needed for new mothers who want to breastfeed.

However I think there's a significant number of mothers who simply choose not to for cultural reasons, not because breastfeeding can be hard. If you want higher breastfeeding rates, it's finding a way to tackle that cultural change that's important. IMHO. smile

I have to say I'm not sure how they're going to measure/test this though. Will be interested to see!

minipie Tue 12-Nov-13 10:10:14

No no no. Terrible idea.

The money should be spent on better access to qualified lactation consultants (especially people trained to spot tongue tie). This might mean more women who actually want to BF are able to do so for more than a few days.

I realise the idea of the vouchers is to get breastfeeding up amongst mothers who have never even intended to try it. However I think those mothers will not be persuaded by vouchers either. At best they will give it a token go in hospital, grab the vouchers and then revert to bottle ASAP.

Whereas, if we give better support to women who actually want to BF, so that they can and do carry on BFing, then longer term and public BFing would become much more common. This might have a positive influence on the women who currently don't even consider BF, as it would mean it is more common to see a woman BFing and there is less of a "yuk" reaction. It would also mean there are fewer tales of bleeding nipples, constant feeds and weight loss to scare women away from the idea of BF. So IMO supporting women who want to BF may actually help get BF rates up among those who currently don't even try it.

Free chocolate hob nobs for breastfeeding mothers would be a good idea though grin

scarletandblack Tue 12-Nov-13 10:10:35

This would have been great for me! Especially if there had been an hourly rate, or a long service bonus. Ended up BFing dc1 for 2.6 yrs, dc2 for 13m and dc3 for 4yrs blush.

No axe to grind at all, just appealed to my lazy side (couldn't be arsed with all that formula and sterilising) and didn't really know (with 1 and 3) how to extricate myself without upsetting dc. (Dc2 started biting me, so BFing swiftly terminated by mutual agreement grin).

seafoodudon Tue 12-Nov-13 10:12:05

Sunday you're really lucky that you didn't find it hard. I think the reality is that this is the minority situation. Whatever the NHS' line is, most people I know have found breastfeeding excruciatingly painful at some point in the first few weeks. This time round it was not just my nipples that were sore but my uterus contracting each time I fed that made the first fortnight a total misery.
gamerchick if you read the whole thread, I think there's little of that at all - both from those people well off enough to admit that £200 wouldn't make much difference to their household budget over 6 months, and from those saying that they would have found the money useful - the general view isn't that 'it's not fair' because they as individuals didn't receive the money.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 10:12:40

Lackingideas, you have linked to a newspaper article not a study.

The article assessed the statistics - I know the article and the journalist was correct in her point that evidence 'for' breastfeeding is sometimes overstated mostly because too many people don't understand statistics. The other aspect is that sometimes 'benefits' are impossible to quantify in individuals, but only show up across populations.

I don't know of any studies that show formula feeding is 'better than' breastfeeding - do you?

1) It encourages people to lie in order to get the money.
2) Women often feel guilty about not BFing, now they can feel like they are letting their families down financially too.
3) There are too many grey areas in infant feeding - the rules are going to be very complex about who is entitled to the money and who is not - let alone proving what someone feeds their own child in the privacy of their home.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:15:01

"There's obviously lots more work to be done in this country to make sure that all women know the facts about the benefits of breast-feeding - and therefore the comparative risks of FF."

I think it's going to be very, very hard to do this. Maybe impossible, especially while we have a huge, flourishing and expensively and widely marketed infant formula industry.

People are very, very resistant to the idea that formula feeding may put babies at risk of ill health. Resistant to the point where the very mention of it on this board within the context of a sensible and sedate discussion of infant feeding issues, can result in an outbreak of hysteria on the boards. And if you referred to this issue on Bounty, Netmums, or iVillage, or most of the other boards, no matter how politely or how relevant the context, you'd be banned very quickly. I got banned from Bounty about 7 years ago for putting a link to a leaflet, produced by the midwives information service, MIDIRS, that says this: "Formula milks and bottle feeding equipment are not only an added expense but are known to carry increased risk for infections and other illnesses, and in rare cases, even mortality." leafletsummary

bleedingheart Tue 12-Nov-13 10:15:19

My DC were born in a 'deprived' area. I was treated like an oddity for breast-feeding.

The so-called breast-feeding mafia haven't extended their reach throughout the country.

In many areas, 'bottle is best' is the over-riding message from family and peers. The midwives and HV I met didn't mention breast-feeding to me and expressed surprise when I stated I would be EBF.

PolarEyes Tue 12-Nov-13 10:17:04

"You'd be amazed at the number of mothers who struggle with breastfeeding who for some reason choose not to access ANY of this help, despite saying they have really struggled with breastfeeding."

I was one of those mothers with my first 2 children. I can only speak for myself, but it was down to my emotional state at the time, I felt inadequate, embarrassed and I didn't want to take up somebody's time if I wasn't going to succeed but rather than just switch over to FF I felt obliged to continue struggling with BF until I found it unbearable. I struggled on for a good 6 weeks with both of them feeling quite desperate until I finally hit the wall and FF. With DS3 I just was so much better emotionally even though the birth was by far the worst and he had tongue-tie, I was readmitted for a blood transfusion etc etc. I still gave some formula but rather than ending BF it enabled me to carry on longer. He is mostly FF now at 7 months but does still have 3 or 4 BFs a day.

I am really unsure about this scheme, I can't really see how it can be properly administrated and if the baby has 1 bottle of FF and is then deemed mixed fed with that "disqualify" them? If it does mean there is better access in the area for BF as a result of the scheme (more drop-in clinics etc) I can see how that would be a positive, although it wouldn't have made any difference to me to is very apparent from this thread that there is a real shortage of accessible bf support.

PhiePhyPhoPhum Tue 12-Nov-13 10:17:42

Ridiculous idea bribing people into it! Spend the money on more available support for people who need it; I'm still BF my DD who's 15 weeks, I've found it really difficult at times & to be honest it's only the support of family & friends who got me through. I'm 19 & every time I go to the HV they ask what formula I'm using & assume I'm FF, IMO there needs to be tailored information for younger people, the amount of my friends who have had babies & not even tried to BF amazes me sometimes, instead of drumming in breast is best, information & guidance needs to be there for people to encourage them to at least try it for the first few days, if it doesn't work out, fair enough but I set myself the target of if I could do it for 3 days I'd be happy, I loved it & am still BF now, but I'm glad I found the support of a lactation consultant in hospital because the first day I was struggling with getting my DD to latch.

TheFabulousIdiot Tue 12-Nov-13 10:17:59

this will be impossible to monitor. We don't have enough well trained health visitors and midwives. Also - many women already have their supply mucked up by the time they leave hospital because so many health practitioners in hospital offer new mums a bottle when they are having difficulty rather than getting them help from a trained lactation consultant. All hospitals need better breastfeeding help in the wards.

Put the money into training midwives and health visitors on dealing with problems that can booby trap your supply and your breastfeeding experience.

Put all formula on free prescription and ban follow on and hungry baby milks. Have tighter controls on advertising and promotion of breast milk, make society aware that breastfeeding is a natural and normal thing and give women the confidence to feed in public.

Most of all stop treating formula like a normal part of baby feeding. Change the way people think about it and start promoting the idea that feeding beyond a year, beyond 2 years is actually normal and that formula is not the answer to all sleep problems.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 10:18:37

Absolutely, bleedingheart. There are areas in the UK where the number of women who even start breastfeeding is under 20 per cent. The women who manage this, in the face of often massive hostility, may not breastfeed for long.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:18:57

MrsCakes - I assume in setting up this scheme (which will be a very small scale and limited to particular areas) they have had detailed discussion of how it can be checked if a mother has continued to breastfeed. My understanding is that health visitors will play a big role in this.

biryani Tue 12-Nov-13 10:18:59

mini: did anyone suggest that the research is worthless?

Most people have a basic grasp, I think, of why breastfeeding is considered better in the first six months or so. You don't need to read the Express or Google to find that out.

But there is a message that breastfed babies somehow "do better" than others. And if this is the message, then it needs to be backed up by properly conducted research that is in the public domai, easily accessible and easily digested by women so that they can make informed, rational choices.

We also need to know what the definition of "better" is. Does it mean that breastfed babies do better in school? Do they get fewer colds? Are they fitter? Do they get better jobs? Apologies for sounding flippant, but we need something a bit more credible than a throwaway statement to h..lp us make informed decisions.

TheFabulousIdiot Tue 12-Nov-13 10:20:29

Also - I haven't seen a midwife since DS was 12 days old and my health visitor only came once every week then every two then I saw her at the clinic for developmental check-ups. Are they suggesting a midwife or health visitor call round every couple of weeks to see how it's all going? What help will be offered to people having problems?

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:21:05

"Absolutely, bleedingheart. There are areas in the UK where the number of women who even start breastfeeding is under 20 per cent. The women who manage this, in the face of often massive hostility, may not breastfeed for long."

IMO those women in these areas who do breastfeed deserve more than £250. They deserve a medal and a t-shirt saying 'I stuck two thumbs nipples up at convention to give my baby the best start in life'.

I really admire women in these situations who give breastfeeding a go. :-)

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 10:22:12

biryani, did you read my post? You do now accept that the research you are asking for does exist, yes?

I don't know where you have been looking but the research is easily accessible - leaflets from the NHS and UNICEF are widely distributed and they make it pretty clear what it means by 'better', by listing specific outcomes,

Mini - so how would it be policed? How will the HVs know? Will they be doing spot checks in kitchens for illicit formula? I can't imagine what mechanism would prevent a woman from lying to get the money.

CailinDana Tue 12-Nov-13 10:26:57

I've bfed two babies - am still currently bfing 8 mth old dd - and I have to say the complete lack of knowledge about bfing among NHS professionals (doctors and nurses alike) has really shocked me. So many HCPs have said things to me that clearly indicate they haven't the first clue how bfing works - it's almost like a child commenting on how you drive a car. Given that the people women are most likely to turn to haven't a clue, what hope is there? Offering an incentive like this won't make a blind bit of difference because a JL voucher won't tell an exhausted distraught mother what to do when she's exhausted and in pain and she can't get a hysterical hungry baby to feed.

I think if milk vouchers are given out to those who FF it might be an idea to give out the equivalent value (for food I'd suggest) to those who BF.

I do seem to remember seeing vouchers given out to those FF at a health centre I went to with DD (in 2000) and think this could disincentivise some women from BFing - especially if there is a culture of everyone FF and taking the vouchers for formula milk.

But I don't know if this still happens? Does anyone else know?

I found BFing easy and my DC also took to it like ducklings to water smile
I BF them both for what many would describe as an extended time (extended from what though - the average ?!)

Due to being well informed I would not personally be much influenced in my decisions by vouchers one way or the other.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:28:37

"Most people have a basic grasp, I think, of why breastfeeding is considered better in the first six months or so."

In the areas the programme is going to run in, you may find that this isn't the case.

The DOH infant feeding survey found that 38% of women who planned for ff couldn't name one reason why breastfeeding might be healthier for babies.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:32:35

"Mini - so how would it be policed? How will the HVs know? Will they be doing spot checks in kitchens for illicit formula? I can't imagine what mechanism would prevent a woman from lying to get the money."

The scheme doesn't require mothers not to use formula as far as I can see.

Most UK babies are mixed fed.

It requires them to be breastfeeding. I'm not sure how much, as details of the scheme aren't currently available online as far as I can see. The only thing I have seen is that midwives and health visitors are involved with administering it and that it will be 'front loading' - ie, they'll get the bulk of the money when they start breastfeeding. If they can show they're still breastfeeding at 6 weeks, they'll get the rest.

CailinDana Tue 12-Nov-13 10:33:44

You should never assume that others have the same knowledge as you. I've worked with a lot of parents who didn't know things about nutrition and health that I would consider very basic, such as the fact that certain foods and drinks are worse for your teeth than others. It's easy to look at someone doing something that you consider wrong and think they're willfully ignoring good advice but it's worth remembering that there are large sections of society that don't look outside their own family circle for parenting role models and advice.
At least three doctors I've spoken to made it very clear from what they said that they genuinely don't understand the mechanics of bfing and what it means for the baby and mother. If they don't know then it's not a stretch to say that others with less education than they also don't know.

sherazade Tue 12-Nov-13 10:34:03

Great idea.
50 quid for pregnancy
2-300 for labour, plus damages
I'm in.

CailinDana Tue 12-Nov-13 10:34:53

Oh and one of those doctors was a very experienced and eminent breast surgeon!!

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:35:56

"We also need to know what the definition of "better" is. Does it mean that breastfed babies do better in school? Do they get fewer colds? Are they fitter? Do they get better jobs? Apologies for sounding flippant, but we need something a bit more credible than a throwaway statement to h..lp us make informed decisions."

Well - the information is out there

here

and

here

for starters!

Some reasons I have heard for not BFing (as discussed by women in the deprived area where I live):

BFing is lazy.
BFing is freaky/weird (well I guess it would be if you don't know anyone who BFs).
BFing is bad for your boobs.
BFing is perverted - if you BF to 6 months you are getting sexual kicks from it and should be reported.

I don't think nutrition comes into it unfortunately. I suppose that a financial incentive might go some way to normalising BFing, it is going to be tough to overcome some of moral disapproval of BFing in this area.

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:41:24

Cailin - stories have filtered back from our local hospital of paediatricians routinely telling mothers pregnant with twins that they can't make enough milk to feed both their babies and that they will HAVE to use formula milk. hmm

I've also come across some shockingly ignorant midwives and MSW's.

You tend to find that the more ignorant and less skilled they are at supporting breastfeeding, the more they try to convince a mother that breastfeeding doesn't matter. It is deeply depressing how many women who've clearly had very little input when it comes to skilled breastfeeding support, rhapsodize about the decency of the HVs, GP's or mw's who TELL them to go out and buy formula or stop breastfeeding in preference to referring them to someone who might actually sort their problem out. Because they're too fucking arrogant to say 'actually I don't know how to help you with your breastfeeding problem'.

minipie Tue 12-Nov-13 10:42:45

It really shouldn't need proving that it's better for babies to be fed the milk that is designed for them rather than an adapted version of milk designed for a baby cow

very sad that some people doubt this, it's a testament to the formula marketing machine.

idea to be shot down: What about a govt scheme that lends out breast pumps instead of giving formula vouchers?

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 10:43:21

"BFing is perverted"

Sadly I can believe this. shock

If the vouchers make a difference to these sorts of attitudes then that'll be a great thing.

Loopyloulu Tue 12-Nov-13 10:46:03

At the risk of being condemned here, are there REALLY mothers who cannot breast feed at all? What would have happened 200 years ago? would their babies have died? I suppose the answer then was wet nurses. But I suspect too many women give up quite easily. Not the MN who are posting here but other women who were never motivated to BF in the first place.

Often it IS hard to keep going and I suspect too many mums who try it give up at the first set back.

My babies BF easily but I have terribly sore nipples which bled. I persevered and fed each exclusively for 4 months then had to start topping up as my babies stopped gaining enough weight. I was very upset and felt a failure. I stopped completely when they were 6 months.

biryani "There is a message that breastfed babies somehow "do better" than others" Too right biryani - they actually do

In fact almost everything you ask in your questions - actually the answer is probably "yes" eg. they do get fewer colds, they probably do do better in school etc. etc.

And from Mini's post - wow I'm so shocked that you got banned from Bounty (and would be from NetMums too) just for saying that formula feeding involves comparative risks to the baby compared to breastfeeding.

Wow! The FF manufacturers have such a strangle hold on freedom of information - such an influence on what can be said on influential parenting sites like Bounty and Netmums. That is sooo shocking shock

All the more reason to get Bounty off our post-natal wards. They are just puppets of the FF manufacturers angry

I think there's actually something deeply dodgy and unethical about paying poor women to make certain choices about what they do with their bodies. In what other context does that happen? hmm

I had a lovely time BF my two for two years each. I was extremely lucky that I had no problems because the support was not there if I had needed it and no amount of 'promotion' can make up for that.

We need:

1) proper ongoing support for women who want to breastfeed, including a routine tongue-tie check at birth.

2) support for women who don't want to breastfeed too, because I have frequently read on here that midwives are 'not allowed' to show new mothers how to make up bottles etc. - if we want to cut the rates of GI infections, this would surely help.

TheFabulousIdiot Tue 12-Nov-13 10:47:00

Can't help wondering if this isn't just the government attempting to skew the stats a bit too.

CailinDana Tue 12-Nov-13 10:50:53

Yes Loopy - breasts aren't infallible and go wrong just like every other part of the body. Some women just don't produce milk or have nipples that make bfing impossibly difficult. In the past the child would have been fed by another woman or would have been given inadequate nutrition from cows milk or whatever passed for acceptable baby food in that area/era. Many many children died before the age of 5.

DuckToWater Tue 12-Nov-13 10:52:23

I don't think the socio-economic aspects have been fully stripped out of those studies, no matter how much they say they have.

Kids of parents who are middle to upper class, reasonably off and there is no learning disability are more than likely to do well at school regardless of how they were fed as a baby. If they are part of the marginsalised underclass, working class or lower middle class there are likely to be more challenges, from getting help with feeding the baby onwards.

DuckToWater Tue 12-Nov-13 10:53:12

Great post Cailin.

DuckToWater Tue 12-Nov-13 10:54:40

Also PlentyofPubeGardens completely agree. Great name smile

IrnBruTheNoo Tue 12-Nov-13 11:00:21

I want paid to lose weight! Can I get £200? Please?!

I think it's a crazy notion to pay someone to breastfeed. Either you want to do it or you don't. Money won't change that, IMO.

Coupon Tue 12-Nov-13 11:00:30

> At the risk of being condemned here, are there REALLY mothers who cannot breast feed at all? What would have happened 200 years ago?

Yes, there are mothers who can't breastfeed, despite all the correct help from many sources, persevering through the pain, etc. 200 years ago they'd have used cows milk, a wet nurse, or the baby died.

I understand your scepticism about the studies Duck, I really do, as I often wonder whether all factors have been properly "controlled for" in various studies.
However I think recent studies have shown that, even accounting for all other factors, breast-feeding does bring additional emotional benefits to the developing baby/child.
From my experience of the closeness, bonding, and emotional support I felt breastfeeding gave to my DC I personally think this makes sense.
And greater emotional security may well bring other developmental and educational benefits too well into the child's future life.

Gherkinsmummy Tue 12-Nov-13 11:03:57

I wanted to breastfeed, but due to an undiagnosed tongue tie it never happened. This seems like a stupid idea - one to one support would be a much better use of the money.

Loopyloulu Tue 12-Nov-13 11:04:42

Ducktowater I think you'll find the studies talk about the increase in IQ which is not the same as 'doing well at school'. So socio economics doesn't play the part you think it will. Unless you want to argue that IQ tests are not 'culture free' which is another thread ..................

CailinDana Tue 12-Nov-13 11:05:38

From a personal point of view I agree with Juggling. Bfing feels like more than feeding - I will often offer bf to dd if she's tired/upset and it calms her down a lot. It's very stress relieving to be able to offer something tangible to an upset child that works reliably and that isn't bad for them. Babies seem to derive a lot of comfort from bfing.

minipie Tue 12-Nov-13 11:08:32

Plenty of Pubes, it happens in the case of healthy start vouchers, where pregnant women on low incomes/benefits are given vouchers towards eating healthily. that is giving money towards doing something with their bodies (eating better) so as to do the best for their child. this idea is the same (tho I don't like it).

Loopy my understanding is that it is relatively uncommon for a woman not to be physically able to produce milk. however it is relatively common for a baby not to latch well in the early days (due to tongue tie or poor technique) with the result that the mother's supply is never stimulated. 200 years ago bottles existed (glass, often with a milk soaked rag instead of a teat) and babies were fed cows milk. and there were wet nurses as you say. it was also more common for women to have babies at very small intervals, so it may be that the milk supply from dc1 was still there to feed dc2, so dc2's poor latch didn't matter so much. also tongue tie may have been less common because the babies with TT may well have died and not passed it on (it is genetic). just some ideas.

MissMiniTheMinx Tue 12-Nov-13 11:11:43

£200, that's it! wow that'll really make a difference to mothers and children in deprived areas. Its said that women from lower socio-economic groups opt to FF but what difference will £200 make to their lives and those of their children. Whereas MC mothers are said to BF, why pay them, they are not only up to doing it but so often up for "marketing" this wonder food to all who will listen.

I, neither needing the money, nor desiring to BF wouldn't have done so for £200,000 let alone £200.

Rather than paying those who would anyway or those who are MC to breastfeed we should be focusing on early years ed, raising educational achievements, demanding better working hrs and better pay, but most of all turning the tide in terms of inequality. For it is class inequality and poverty that blights the lives of children...not lack of BF.

DuckToWater Tue 12-Nov-13 11:13:23

I think you can get the same bonding and closeness while feeding with a bottle, Juggling.

I certainly accept that babies who have not been loved as much as they ought to have been can go on to have a lot of problems as children an adults. I just don't accept that bonding/closeness/attachment/love/security or however you brand it can only be delivered by suckling milk from their mothers.

I only breastfed because largely it came easily, DD1 seemed to know what she was doing if I didn't, and by DD2 my breasts knew what they were doing from the word go as well. I gave up largely at 3 months with DD2 though as I knew formula feeding was absolutely fine too (after introducing formula gradually from five months to doing last feed at eight months with DD1) as it was more convenient with a second child for other people to be able to help and feed her more.

MillyRules Tue 12-Nov-13 11:14:52

I breastfed for 7 years in total (2 babies one 18 months after the other). Itsvery very hard in the beginning and nothing can prepare you for it. But once established its the simplist easiest low cost way to feed.
I don't think two hundred pounds would have made any difference to how I felt about it though. Either you want to do it and you preserve through all the pain and anguish and eventually get there or you decide its not for you and move on. I think instead of paying women money they should put that money into having more breastfeeding counsellors and help available for new mums to enable them to continue breastfeeding when the going gets tough.

DuckToWater Tue 12-Nov-13 11:15:06

IQ tests measure people being good at IQ tests Loopy pretty much sums up what I think of them.

youretoastmildred Tue 12-Nov-13 11:15:48

There is already a natural financial incentive to breastfeed and it isn't working. The reasons why it isn't working (in enough cases) should be examined

And yes it is patronising and unethical

and also, it is very sad that we apparently live in a society that is so stupid that it believes that the only way to value something is to crudely slap a wodge of money onto it. Don't get me wrong, I like money, and it is very useful, and I would like people who have less of it to have more of it. But this is just - stupid and crude and clunky

TheFabulousIdiot Tue 12-Nov-13 11:16:48

"I think you can get the same bonding and closeness while feeding with a bottle, Juggling."

does anyone really doubt that?

You can't get the same nutrition and health benefits from feeding formula though.

MortifiedAnyFuckerAdams Tue 12-Nov-13 11:17:32

A BFing parent already saves a large chunk of money, more than 200 over six months, simply by not buying tinned milk, let alone bottles, steriliser and bottle warmer. If someone is BFing purely for financial reasons, they already have it.

I tried and failed to BF my first. If I ever have anothe, all the money in the world wpuldnt keep me BFing.

I think this is a terrible idea. It is also deeply flawed at its very core - working from the belief that poor/underprivileged women will only breastfeed if given money to do so.
That is a disgusting viewpoint that completely ignores the social and educational problems around bfing among poorer mothers. What is needed is better education and more support (i.e. more lactation consultants and better training for midwives), not just throwing money at women.

Of course then there's the social stigma attached to bfing among less privileged families and younger women generally. My then-19yo sister was repulsed when I told her about breast pumps and she didn't understand why I was sad that I couldn't bf my son - she thought bfing was "gross" and that my breasts should be exclusively for my DP hmm
Sadly I don't think anything much can be done about the over-sexualisation of women's breasts, but there you go.

sallyst123 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:22:57

why would you need an incentive? i breastfed all 3 of mine but had to stop with my 1st after 6 wks for health reasons, my 2nd i didnt last 2 weeks because she just wouldnt take then my ds3 i breastfed til his 1st bday!!
the nhs is supposed to be at breaking point, i dont think giving people money to do what comes naturally to every mother is the i would rather the money they have found for this be used to set up a scubu unit, or pay towards more nursing & midwifery staff.
its just ridiculous

Sorelip Tue 12-Nov-13 11:24:00

I'm probably missing something really simple, but if financial gain was a proper incentive to breastfeed, wouldn't the fact that breastfeeding is free compared to the £50 or £60 a month for the formula alone push more women to breastfeed?

catellington Tue 12-Nov-13 11:24:06

This is really interesting and the more you think of it the more complex it becomes. It's similar to the question of childcare vouchers and sahms.

Firstly I have always found it a ridiculous inequality that vouchers are available for formula with no equivalent for breastfeeding. IMO there should not be a government incentive for ff. that's not to say those who need the incentive shouldn't be given enough to enable them to buy formula if they want to; but I don't think that formula should be explicitly incentivised in this way.

On this latest scheme, if it is to equalise the position wrt vouchers for formula, it could be designed so as to provide targeted financial help with the costs of bf. vouchers could have been for instance only redeemable against nursing bras and clothes. Some people can't afford these things and are put off bf because of worries about feeding outside etc etc. this would remove the issue of proof. (Because who would buy a nursing bra if they don't need to smile).

I do think that the economic contribution of bf should be recognised. This if discussed in depth in The Politics of Breastfeeding and is a really interesting concept. In a capitalist society where success is predominantly measured in financial terms, bf is an unrecognised but major contributor. Not only at source ie the notional 'cost' of breast milk, but based on the research, the potential cost saving of reduced healthcare costs.

I think that in order to enable those who want to, to bf, so much has to be done to promote bf, and make it everyday, and educate people. All of this is obvious sadly from just reading some threads on here every day. Anything which brings bf to the attention of the public and suggests it is of worth is positive IMO, although the results of the pilot will show whether and in what form an incentive for bf would be beneficial.

MissMiniTheMinx Tue 12-Nov-13 11:24:33

That is a disgusting viewpoint that completely ignores the social and educational problems around bfing among poorer mothers. What is needed is better education and more support (i.e. more lactation consultants and better training for midwives), not just throwing money at women

No, what is needed is to eradicate deprivation full stop and better BF advice isn't the natural or sensible place to start.

Why do we even have such inequality and disadvantage? If all things being equal and there were no socio-economic and educational deficits then it would follow that ALL women would have the same opportunities and access to resources be they advice and guidance or enough bloody money to feed and clothe their children.

Maitri Tue 12-Nov-13 11:27:47

As many posters have said, we need FAR BETTER encouragement and gentle support for new mums in the early days. I had my last stay in a maternity ward nearly three years ago when I had DC3 and was shocked to overhear the nursing assistant's brusque advice to a recently delivered, crying, exhausted mum. I wish, wish, wish that I had booted her out of the room myself and given that mum some kind, gentle help and a big shoulder to cry upon.

£200 per mum would go much further if it was put into establishing lovely, regular, cosy breastfeeding clubs where mums were offered a nice hot lunch, a good chat and some friendly help. How about paying mums from these socio-economic areas who are established breastfeeders for their services as breastfeeding counsellors?

youretoastmildred Tue 12-Nov-13 11:31:13

Anyway working on a "trust" basis is meaningless.

If you aren't prepared to bf for its own sake but would do so for £200 then I suggest you would probably be prepared to say you breastfeed for £200. And I don't blame you actually.

What "counts"? If you lose the money if your baby gets one bottle of formula, in extremis, that is pretty draconian. If you put the baby on the breast for 2 minutes once a day, while giving 6 formula bottles, is that breastfeeding?

Who cares? - I don't. Just give £200 to everyone with a baby, to spend on chocolate and nice pyjamas. And support everyone who wants to, to breastfeed, at the same time.

MoominMammasHandbag Tue 12-Nov-13 11:36:02

I don't know, I have breastfed al four of mine to 12 months or so. But learning the skill, particularly with the lack of information available 20 years ago, was not easy. I had the bleeding nipples, the blocked ducts, the lot.
But the worst thing was the lack of support and the misinformation. Looking back, my own Mum was like some anti breastfeeding propagandist, "He can't be hungry again, you only fed him two hours ago. He can't be getting enough. If you gave him a bottle we could all help. For goodness sake put your top on, why are you wandering around half naked? That poo really doesn't look right to me. He hasn't gone for days, he must be constipated, give him some sugar and water."
It is heartwarming to hear my teenage daughters automatic assumptions that they will breast feed, and nice to know I will have some knowledge to help them.

LittleSiouxieSue Tue 12-Nov-13 11:43:36

Is Prince George being breast fed? What about the Beckham babies? No-one complains about their life-style choices. It is only poor people who have to be persuaded to do something deemed "best". I agree with MissMini, we have more important things to worry about and pay for.

Actually, was Prince George breast fed? Does anyone know?

seafoodudon Tue 12-Nov-13 11:44:26

"On this latest scheme, if it is to equalise the position wrt vouchers for formula, it could be designed so as to provide targeted financial help with the costs of bf. vouchers could have been for instance only redeemable against nursing bras and clothes."

Yes, I was wondering about that - perhaps MWs and HVs in deprived areas (or nationally, as low income families also live in wealthy areas) could be given a discretionary fund to offer targeted material support to those women they think would benefit most from it. Lots of items might be useful for breastfeeding mums including pumps, sterilizers and bottles, bras, pads and feeding aprons. Or, if it appears that the mother isn't eating well enough, then food vouchers. I think this would be different to offering cash/vouchers generally as it is about providing support rather than reward.

stickygotstuck Tue 12-Nov-13 11:44:34

SundaySimmons Tue 12-Nov-13 10:03:35

"Unless there is a medical reason, I can't understand why breastfeeding is being described as hard." Well, you will never know how lucky you are not to comprehend that.

It's comments like this one that make mothers like me never make their peace. My "baby" is now 5 YO and I still cried when I read this.

It's ignorant, arrogant and patronising to say something like that to mothers like me, who tried bloody hard for months despite bleeding, cracks, baby losing weight! (what an idiot I was, but that's pressure to BF for you), panic attacks and the ensuing PND for "failing" at something that was "easy". Easy my arse. Very glad it is for so many women, but it's bloody not for many, many others.

Also "medical reasons" covers a hell of a lot of stuff. Including anxiety and other issues that do wreak havoc with your supply and MH.

Sorry, this was mentioned way up thread, but I just had to get this off my chest. blush

Clarella Tue 12-Nov-13 11:46:34

I can understand the reasoning behind the trial however I feel the study fails to take account for the fact that, as a fellow bf mum put it, it's essentially a major lifestyle choice - not just for mum and baby but also the wider family. Aside the fact that many women struggle or are not 'prepared' for the reality of bf in the early weeks -which is a challenge in itself as every mum's birth experience and bf experience is individual to her - bf very quickly it becomes much more than that. For example, bf is a source of comfort during teething and colds, helps regulate temperature for the baby and eases any reflux. However, feeding on demand can be very difficult, especially at night! A part of this life style choice CAN result in bed sharing, which new mums are scared into avoiding, despite (as research and bf mums around the world confirm) it being a natural 'side effect' of bf. However, this does impact on social life etc and so the support of partners and wider family is needed - not least as you feel a 'failure' or are 'giving in'.

For me, bed sharing and feeding at night (including those terrible teething/ developmental all night boobathons) has enabled me to return to work 3 days a week in a job which is physically demanding and has no practical opportunities to express. Therefore I have been happy for him to 'reverse cycle' and am lucky in that I find feeding back to sleep lying down works for both of us. (It took a while though! probably only when he was around 7 months did we manage to do it well and sleep!) If anyone had said to me that this would be what I would be doing at 11 months in order to continue bf I wouldn't have believed them and MIGHT have reconsidered bf. However, as I was bf myself till 2 and a half it's always been 'what you do'.

We did struggle though. I have had to seek advice and support from nct helplines and my local very supportive la leche league thoroughout my bf journey. I feel £200 would be better spent on providing properly trained lactation consultants in hospital and attached to health visitors as I had terrible advice in hospital over expressing for a baby who had low birth weight - and just needed feeding. He only gained weight when I fed him on demand instead of the silly 3 hour schedule they had him on. But I ended up with over supply. And we need better understanding of, diagnosis of and treatment of tongue tie including posterior and mild tt, to help new mums feed pain free.

We need a change in culture too. Recently, our local Fenwicks window display for a baby event included stylishly dressed mums pushing prams, with fancy cots against a backdrop wall hanging of large blue and pink bottles. Expressing machines, nursing covers, slings, (not baby bjorns!), nursing tops were all excluded from the display. Even the feeding room at the newly built great north children's hospital has a bottle on it's sign.

catellington Tue 12-Nov-13 11:46:48

maitri that's a really good idea.

Mim78 Tue 12-Nov-13 11:52:22

How on earth are they going to administer it, i.e. know which Mums are breastfeeding and who is not? With they want to examine you boobs?

The only way (imo) they are going to encourage more breastfeedings is to clamp down on members of the public judging women for breastfeeding in public or restaurants or any kind of "public" building asking women to leave. The government need to run adverts aimed at the public rather than at women with messages like "this is what breasts are for" rather than the guilt enducing adverts they run at present aimed at women. It also needs to be illegal to ask a woman to leave any space to which the public, paying or otherwise, have access in order to breastfeed, or to ask her to cover up her boobs while doing so.

I think awareness and a zero tolerance for preventing breastfeeding is the answer rather than cash incentives. Yes, it would be good to have some money towards the extra calories you need to breastfeed but I can't see how it would be administered.

AquaCouldron Tue 12-Nov-13 11:53:16

My first thought was that surely there's a huge financial incentive to breastfeed anyway, since you don't have to buy formula?

I'm always surprised that more isn't made of this in BFing education. Maybe a campaign along the lines of 'with the money you would have spent on formula in x period of time, you could buy a course of baby signing lessons / a new buggy / three spray tans / a case of wine / a new bag / four nights' worth of babysitting. (Target as appropriate.)

Clarella Tue 12-Nov-13 11:56:42

I think what I meant to say is that as my mil has said - you've got to really want to bf - as the difficulties and challenges can be both physical as well as social. And the money would be better spent supporting both the physical difficulties mums experience and the way society views bf.

IceBeing Tue 12-Nov-13 11:56:47

I vote for spending the money on peer support in hospitals.....

BFing is something that requires internal motivation and functioning BF physiology. You cannot replace either of those things with external motivation in the form of money....

VinoTime Tue 12-Nov-13 11:57:35

I've not long had my implant replaced to ensure I don't have another unexpected pregnancy. Do I get a cube of cheese for doing so, since I've been a really good, responsible little girl? hmm

Oh, oh! Wait. Actually, if the implant fails, can I have a designer handbag if I manage to squeeze back into my skinny jeans straight after the birth?

Nothing but a disguised EMA payment for parents who would otherwise choose to FF. Absolutely shocking and to me, highly unethical. I am not a child. Nor am I any person's play thing. If I want to BF, I'll BF. If I want to FF, I'll FF. And I'll do either because it is my CHOICE to do so based on my own informed decision, not because some ass has placed John Lewis vouchers into a mousetrap for me to come take a nibble on.

If there's money to do this horseshit, there's money to put on more classes/more BF awareness campaigns/hire some BF counsellors for GP practices and hospitals. They might have more success even if they were to take this pool of women and offer to pay for them to see a private BF counsellor. At least then they could boast about the possible benefits to BF numbers swelling IF women had the appropriate support around them, which as it stands, we don't. A new pair of boots from JL isn't going to help anybody with BF - professional and informed help that is readily available to all mothers however, would. It's not rocket science.

PenelopeChipShop Tue 12-Nov-13 12:00:09

I think it's incredibly patronising. It comes across to me as 'do the right thing for your baby and you get a lovely reward - some free money to go shopping!' And if you struggle, or you DO breastfeed but just not for the 'required' six months, or you have to - GASP - go back to work before your baby is six months, then you won't 'qualify' for this 'reward'.

Infantilises women and I find it frankly insulting. And I speak as somebody who loves breastfeeding and is still going with my DS at 16 months - but this to me just feels like a way of almost punishing those who formula feed or, let's face it, those who mix feed.

Why does there never seem to be any acknowledgement that, actually, most women do a mixture - maybe breastfeed in the day and give bottles at night, or express and feed breast milk in a bottle when they're away or just for a break. Or just have formula on hand for the odd bottle now and again. It always feels like the media presents this huge gap between exclusive breastfeeding and formula feeding when in fact it's a damn good thing we have the option of both!

MillyRules Tue 12-Nov-13 12:01:20

More education is needed regarding breast milk and breast feeding. The money should go here so that women are more aware of the difference between formula milk and breastmilk. The experts still don't know exactly what makes up breastmilk so formula will never match it completely. Breastfeeding for 2 years and longer (5 to 7 years) as is done in countries where breastfeeding is the norm, reduces a womans risk of developing breast cancer by 50 per cent.
Once we are completely educated as to all the benefits to mother and baby of breastfeeding long term then the mother can make their own choice as to whether or not they want to do it. Of course some mothers cannot feed for other reasons or choose not to and that is their prerogative but at least they would have had all the information and facts available to them before they arrived at their choices.

greenmob83 Tue 12-Nov-13 12:03:19

Daft idea imo the money would be better spent on help and education.
No amount of money will persuade people to do things they find repugnant or embarrasing.
Having fed three children in the eighties when it was definitely out of fashion and no mumsnet to hand. I found help to be very thin on the ground only sheer bloody mindedness got me through the the early weeks.
It would have been a great help to speak to other breast feeding mums instead of our elderly male gp and useless heath visitor who had only read up on it the same as myself.
Lord knows how they will police it.

youretoastmildred Tue 12-Nov-13 12:04:15

"If there's money to do this horseshit, there's money to put on more classes/more BF awareness campaigns/hire some BF counsellors for GP practices and hospitals."

YY

Midgetm Tue 12-Nov-13 12:13:15

The money should be spent on education and support IMO. Most people I know who did not BF fall into two main camps.

1)Those who do not want to BF (for whatever reason that may be).
2) Those who want to but stop because of lack of support.

£200 wouldn't do a lot to help any of those groups much IMO but someone to help them and explain the real benefits of BF. not just the health benefits but how if you are lazy and cheap <like me> it's the easiest and cheapest way to feed your baby. And stop peddling the myth that is is easy at first. Because for most people it bloody isn't.

As its a trial it will be really interesting to see if it works, but I hope it is evaluated against women just having support and encouragement. I also hate, hate, double hate the way this could make women feel who fail to BF. A lot of them already feel shitty enough without missing out on a naice Voucher from JLP.

OliviaP Tue 12-Nov-13 12:15:25

Why arr they paying people to make a parenting choice? Surely we do the best for our kids because we love them, not for shopping voucher. What next? Maybe this smile eveningharold.com/2013/11/12/parents-to-be-bribed-to-feed-wash-and-dress-their-children/

Retropear Tue 12-Nov-13 12:18:14

Absolutely ridiculous for several reasons.

£200 wouldn't have made me continue- support might have though.

It will make ffers feel even more shite.

£200 on books or healthy food would frankly have a far bigger impact in this country.

Just how are they going to regulate it?Just how?They might as well start chucking away £200 notes now.

How bloody patronising (what are we,milk machines)and the possible pressure from abusive partners to get the cash.

Why oh why do dreadful literacy levels and babies/toddlers eating shite which have a waaaaay bigger impact than a few months of a perfectly adequate food such as formula in comparison count for nothing?

Frankly if we have the money to chuck away on something as ridiculous as this why are cuts cutting so deep?

libster2000 Tue 12-Nov-13 12:24:54

Been thinking about this one and sounds like it's another sneaky money-saving scam from central government.
The scheme is aimed at a certain socio-economic group, the same group who already receive free vouchers for baby formula.
Someone has sat down in a back office at Westminster and the penny has dropped - free milk tokens for 6 months/26 weeks even at just £10 a week are gonna cost at least £260 (and that's a conservative estimate).
Let's give them a couple of hundred quid for breastfeeding instead and Bob's your Auntie's Live-in-Lover, a nice little saving.
No-brainer really but let's dress it up like some kind of pro-breastfeeding initiative.
Can't help being cynical about this one.

MuggedByTheSleepThief Tue 12-Nov-13 12:25:54

To give useful view we would need to know which demographic and socio-economic group this is aimed at. I can't help thinking that those of us who use a parenting website and are interested enough in breastfeeding to click on this thread are probably not the ones this is aimed at at all, and are therefore less likely to be motivated by the vouchers.

I would guess this is aimed at very young mothers who are also struggling financially, however, this is a huge assumption and I would not have an idea whether it could combat the strong ff culture that is often observed in this group.

Seems sensible to explore this alongside the assurance to all who have tried and struggled, that this does not in any way indict them, nor is it necessarily aimed at them.

Pixielady83 Tue 12-Nov-13 12:27:29

I haven't read the full thread but can only echo what pps have put - there is a desperate need for better bf support in hospital and in the first weeks. I read all I could about bf, watched videos on how to get baby to latch on, prepared for it like it was a flipping exam, but after I had the baby I got very little support in hospital because the midwives were so busy during my 4 day stay. The midwives who did help were brilliant, but I needed that level of assistance for every feed, and they just couldn't provide that level of attention. They did get a volunteer to come along with a knitted boob and a baby doll but I already knew how it was meant to work, I just needed actual physical support to help me get DD to latch and advice on how often to be putting her to the breast and different holds. The volunteer would only demonstrate with the doll rather than advise on how to keep DD latched on and feeding so was of little help. What little advice I got was so hands off and aspirational that it was of no value at all. I didn't need persuading to bf, I needed practical help. The whole experience left me feeling like a failure, traumatised, patronised and depressed. This could not have been addressed by some shopping vouchers.

MrsLianeB Tue 12-Nov-13 12:42:39

I had 4 mc and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and was placed on medication. This medication regulated my thyroid and helped my 5th pregnancy to continue to full term and provide me with a gorgeous 11 week old ds.
#the downside to this medication was I knew from the 6th month of pregnancy I was not going to be able to breastfeed as the medication would pass through my milk to the baby.
I would have dearly loved to even attempt to breastfeed but knew this would not be safe for baby.
Considering me and my oh work we are not entitled to milk tokens, the £500 sure start grant or child tax credits which already makes me mad as surely everyone should be entitled to the same!
My local trust only promote breast feeding anyway and give no support or advice to those formula feeding whatever the reason being.
Maybe the money would be better spent on the maternity wards and staffing!

Coupon Tue 12-Nov-13 12:46:59

So what about pregnant women/new mothers who smoke, drink, weigh more than a certain amount, get too little exercise or consume too few vitamins? Should the health police pay them to change too? Real support and information are fine, but I think financial incentives are going too far, and discriminate against those who need the money just as much but don't/can't fit into the required category.

iseenodust Tue 12-Nov-13 12:51:58

It's the latest really bad idea.
Last week I visited a hospital with my DF, the staff were wearing Nestle neck straps with the lanyards.
Our local hospital has given every member of staff an extra day holiday if they took up flu vaccination.

I despair.

Oblomov Tue 12-Nov-13 12:52:02

Hardly anyone I know has bf. I think I can only name a few people.
Most people seem to bottlefeed. Of these , few couldn't bf, they just chose not to. They told me so.
I don't know how you encourage people to bf, but not like this.
It is a complex issue.

TheNewson Tue 12-Nov-13 12:54:14

How insulting! To mothers who are unable to breastfeed and to mothers who are seemingly so desperate for money that this 'carrot' could be unfairly dangled in front of them.

For me, it was a case of won't breastfeed. I chose to not breast feed my twins - a decision made before they were even born. So they can stick that in their pump and drink it!

lanak Tue 12-Nov-13 12:57:27

I think its putting even more pressure on mothers to breast feed when they can't or don't want to , causing undue stress on mother and baby! surely the mothers and babys mental wellbeing is more important?

I personally bf my daughter for 3 months, and that was enough for me , at 4 months she started having solids.

I think it would be better to give all mums vouchers for 1st 6 months towards buying fresh food or powdered milk then thos who bf can put it towards heathy food etc to help supply the bobby juice, and mums who bottle feed can put it towards buying the powdered milk!

pocopearl Tue 12-Nov-13 13:04:42

TBH its another way that women who are unable to breast feed are going to be left feeling crap. I had to stop when my son was 2 months and since then I have been left feeling like a bad mother at every opportunity. What a load of crap this is why cant women be given equal information on all sides of advice. Im so fed up with being told what I am doing wrong which was right only a few years ago. Why can women be given information which leaves us with options rather than feeling like a bad mother when we know the current advice is detrimental to our children. Am so angry at this government and the NHS. Always thought it would be my MIL who made me feel incompetent not those who are employed to support.

biryani Tue 12-Nov-13 13:06:06

coupon I couldn't breastfeed. My dd was born premature and I didn't get any milk. I wanted to and was encouraged, but not bullied. Years ago, a baby would either go to a wetnurse or fed by a neighbour or relative.

I suppose this must still happen in many parts of the world. Which makes me wonder why it doesn't happen in this country still, as it's such a practical solution.

juggling I'm still not convinced. I understand that there is plenty of information via the nhs that makes an excellent case for breast feeding. But the information is presented in such a way as to make mothers who can't or don't want to feel that they are somehow inferior mothers who are making bad choices. In reality, the overwhelming majority of mothers WANT to do the best they can for their hildren. But we live in a culture that actually discourages breastfeeding: women going back to work after birth, distaste from society at large, poor facilities are all reasons for not doing so. So it's hardly surprising that take up is patchy.

But I'm more interested in the longer-term benefits. These are less well-documented. Once children are weaned, what happens then? And how does one compare breastfed children with non-breast fed ones once other factors come into play?

And isn't it the case that all babies receive some sort of protection from having been in the womb for about 6months afterwards anyway?

Haven't time to read the whole thread but in my area there was fantastic network of breast feeding support groups and ladies from the organisation went into hospitals and into new mothers homes, to give advice and support.
That organisation no longer exists due to funding cuts!! Put the £200 per bf mum back into support organisations like this, not Matalan vouchers!!

btw when I heard it on the news I thought the vouchers would be for healthy food or supermarket shopping, not Matalan and john lewis.

PoshPaula Tue 12-Nov-13 13:16:53

Yes terrific isn't it, when I think of the pain, guilt and anguish I felt when I found (after - believe me - weeks of trying) that I was unable to breastfeed my children, after having surgery to drain a breast abscess caused by unsuccessful attempts, after repeated bouts of mastitis, after my babies losing weight drastically - if I had only known then that there was to be a financial gain if I had been able to do it, well, that might have changed everything.

gemmied Tue 12-Nov-13 13:23:09

I think it isn't the best idea because giving people shopping vouchers for breastfeeding, instead of giving them formula vouchers is not really the same thing... I understand why some people find it insulting.
On the other hand, if it worked and people gave breastfeeding more of a chance, or perhaps even tried it when they might not have done otherwise, it would be a great step forward. I think breastfeeding is 'one' of the best things that a mother can do for her baby.
If it 'can't' be done, then that is one thing, and I would never want a mother to be looked down upon because she truly can't, but I think most of the time it could be done with the right attitude and enough knowledge, determination, perseverance, encouragement and support.

lainiekazan Tue 12-Nov-13 13:29:48

Assuming that this scheme will only be targeted at one specific socio-economic group, then saying £200 or milk tokens does actually deal with the lying factor.

I suppose the £200 carrot might encourage some people to try breast feeding. Trying to overcome the "eurrgh" and the "I want to leave the baby with my mum/gran" factors are very hard and perhaps when it comes down to it hard cash is the only thing which may do the trick.

SoftSheen Tue 12-Nov-13 13:32:39

I would prefer that the money was spent on providing more support to women who already want to breastfeed but are struggling.

MiMiHead Tue 12-Nov-13 13:37:35

Women don't need money in the early days with a baby they need support - good support - about whatever feeding choices they make. I am on the pro side of breastfeeding (still going with a 2.5 year old) but I know how hard it is in the early days to establish feeding days - I had a nightmare in my first 8 weeks. And in the work I do with a family support charity I know that too often women are judged either way for how they choose to feed their child and not everyone can feed. Instead of giving £200 to 200 different women why not use the cash to fund a health visitor or a peer support adviser - far more cost effective long term to the whole community. This study is just a diversion from what any women who has had a baby in recent times know - early days support is woeful. We need support if we want to breastfeed, we need support if we are unable to feed and we need support if we choose not to breastfeed. As I say while I lean to the pro bf side, I am far more pro women's rights to decide what they do with their own bodies.
And what's best for a child - its not breast milk, its a happy, confident, well supported mother.

frumpypigskin Tue 12-Nov-13 13:38:59

It's so full of flaws it's ridiculous. I don't understand how they can ensure that the baby is being breastfed. Just by the mother saying so?

I don't often agree with Katy Hopkins but she made the point that this money isn't addressing any of the issues as to why the breastfeeding rates in the UK are so low.

Why doesn't the money go towards education and supporting breastfeeding. I'm sure that a major issue is that mothers think that breastfeeding is going to be easy therefore when they experience problems with it they think it means there is a problem with them and they give up.

Breastfeeding can be bloody hard work. A decent support and education network to help mothers get through the tough days of breastfeeding would be a much better way to spend the money than vouchers.

Just saw Kate MN on the ITV news.

Great to see her but I thought the report as a whole was very brief and superficial, with no-one really getting to say anything of much significance.

- Would have liked to see the Prof (of infant nutrition?) getting more in on health benefits of BFing for example - to counter the messages given out by the FF manufacturers (in spite of the baby feeding code of practice)

Thinking that a "men's issue" would never be quite so superficially covered ? hmm

Just seen the discussion with Kay on Loose Women too which was better - at least they gave an expectant Mum some decent time during a phone-in session to tell us what she thought of it all - basically she hasn't yet decided how she will feed her baby but wants to try BFing, and doesn't think the vouchers would make any difference to her - she will do what suits her and her baby.
Of course, well said that woman !

Minifingers Tue 12-Nov-13 14:23:55

"But the information is presented in such a way as to make mothers who can't or don't want to feel that they are somehow inferior mothers who are making bad choices."

If you can find me ONE example of an NHS leaflet which clearly sets out to 'make ff mothers feel inferior' I'll give you a fiver.

IMO there is no intention to criticise or judge in the materials.

If women who have chosen to ff feel guilty and inferior it's probably not because of anything in a leaflet. It's probably because their conscience is prickling them about their choice not to breastfeed, or to stop breastfeeding in the face of difficulties.

The easiest thing to do in this circumstance is obviously to offload your guilt onto the nearest easy target: the slightly clumsy midwife, the friendly but rather dim-witted breastfeeding supporter, the well-intentioned overtired mother on the bus next to you who makes a rather ill-considered comment about breastfeeding. All of these women become 'breastfeeding nazi's' who 'made you feel guilty' or 'tried to force you to breastfeed'. hmm

working9while5 Tue 12-Nov-13 14:27:46

The first thing my husband said was, "£200, that's nowhere near enough".

I breastfed both of mine, but with tremendous difficulty. Had lactation consultants, tongue tie divisions, La Leche groups, helpline support, endless weighing, "failure to thrive", mastitis, thrush, expressing round the clock to refeed, biological nurturing blah blah. You name it, I tried it.

Ds1 - 75th centile at birth, 2nd centile by 24 weeks, 75th centile at one year (having started solids and switched milk).
Ds2 - 91st centile at birth, .04 and dehydrated by 21 weeks, 91st centile at one year.

I basically starved two babies. You can see it in the photos of them. They look PITIFUL. I was determined though hmm. £200? Dh thinks it's about a grand too little...

SunshineMMum Tue 12-Nov-13 14:29:37

I think that it is a bit questionable to offer Mother a cash incentive to breast feed. It implies that they are incapable of making an informed decision without a cash incentive and policing. Absolutely agree that the money would be better spent on on-going support within the community for those who choose to based on the health benefits and ability.

Yeh, £200 is a rather paltry and patronising incentive anyway isn't it?

So, about 2 days pay, or not more than a week's pay anyway, for 6 mths work 24/7 !

Loosewomen2013 Tue 12-Nov-13 14:46:51

It's absolutely ridiculous to think that women will only breast feed their babies if they get paid!! My daughter is 23 years old and I was so desperate to breast feed her but I was unable to, there are mothers out there who will not be able to!!

The money offered should go to mothers on low income who are unable to breast feed to make sure they're getting the right nutrition for their babies in any form.

kannyhq Tue 12-Nov-13 14:48:04

It seems to me a real shame that breastfeeding is such a controversial thing... and also seems that sensitive support from birth would better enable women who want to feed.... I instinctively think that breastfeeding is 'natural'... women have breasts after all... yet somehow for it to seem normal and for those who really struggle and aren't able to feed to feel OK seems an almost impossible thing.

I am not sure that tokens are the answer... but having listened to an academic involved in this pilot study.... I wonder if, given appropriate support, it may help women breastfeed / be part of a catalyst for change?? (or maybe if the appropriate support is given in the first place the money becomes irrelevant??)

bigbrick Tue 12-Nov-13 14:55:35

It takes time and effort to breastfeed. Many mums can't be bothered to do this. I don't think cash will improve this selfishness.

Nigglenaggle Tue 12-Nov-13 15:00:48

Minifingers - it's not possible for me to comment properly on your post without breaking talk guidelines. Your bigoted response shows a complete lack of empathy. You should be ashamed.

Well my initial response to the idea was rage - how patronising. That said, although money had nothing to do with my decision to breastfeed or not, it did impact and will impact on how long I do it for - I need to go back to work to pay the mortgage. But a £200 John Lewis voucher wouldn't be any help with this - as others have said perhaps supermarket vouchers would be more help, but it's cash in the bank I need. All the things I could get from John Lewis/Mothercare have already been purchased or gifted second hand. While on maternity leave, breastfeeding is cheaper, so I doubt anyones decision to start or not has anything to do with finance. I actually live in Derbyshire and felt very well supported, and have managed to continue and come back from a >10% birth weight loss to continue feeding - but it was touch and go as to whether we were doing the right thing. It wasn't the hardship to myself that concerned me, but the perceived risk and harm to my child of continuing - I wouldn't judge anyone for pulling out in this situation and formula feeding. Financial incentives to continue could I feel be dangerous if they worked. It's the support to work out whats wrong and pull the situation back that is needed and the money would be better spent here.

BoffinMum Tue 12-Nov-13 15:02:30

Frankly given what you need to spend on extra fruit and veg and dairy for yourself, breast pads, spare t-shirts, nipple creams and so on, not to mention ruddy savoy cabbages for inside your bra, £200 seems a bit low. I think £25 a week would be more realistic. If we are thinking in strictly accounting terms.

Babycino81 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:17:12

I have a 5 week old baby who I currently exclusively breast feed. This was a personal choice that I made; however, I was also in hospital for the first week after having my daughter and I had real difficulty in breast feeding. I can categorically state, if it wasn't for the support of the midwives and breast feeding support team, I would not have been able to get my baby to latch and therefore, the incentive of £200 would have been null and void in my case. The support is needed in getting mothers, who want to breast feed, established without penalising those who don't or who can't. There is a societal divide amongst mother and baby groups into those that do breast feed and those that don't, (in my limited but current experience) this proposed voucher incentive will only serve to continue creating that divide and nothing positive will be gained from it.

Apologies for Lal of paragraphs, typing on phone.

Zara1984 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:19:00

Stupid patronising scheme

Did countries with high bf rates (Norway, Sweden and NZ - the latter is where I'm from) get there by offering financial "incentive"? Errr no, they got there by providing comprehensive support to new mums in the immediate postnatal period.

Hire more midwives and give them better breast feeding training and more professional support? No no, that's too obvious. Daft reward scheme, that's obviously the way to go! hmm

ElizabethJonesMartin Tue 12-Nov-13 15:19:22

I feel the other way round - that it was one of my most pleasurable life experiences and one of the most important and I would pay a huge amount to be allowed to do it and wish others were lucky enough to have the same experience.

The suggestion breastfeeding costs a single penny of money is ridiculous. You don't pay a single thing. Even if you don't enough fruit the baby will get what it wants as that is how breastfeeding works. I never bought a nipple cream in my life. You just feed. You don't need any kit. That's another advantage it is entirely free of charge. you don't need to buy a bottle or anything like that. it's dirt cheap and wonderful.

Zara1984 Tue 12-Nov-13 15:24:20

Elizabeth you may not need to buy any kit, or you may need to spend £200+ in the first week alone on private lactation consultants because you got zero bf help on the postnatal ward. Like me.

More money for midwives, less daft schemes.

dozeydoris Tue 12-Nov-13 15:33:21

Just another point - there is much talk of babies should be breastfeed for 6 months. I would prefer if there was no fixed date and a more relaxed 'feed as long as you like' or '2 to 3 weeks is fine but I you want to change do' - because at first looking after a newborn, trying to establish bfeeding, getting enough sleep are all demanding enough, thinking OMG I have to do this for 6 months might put potential bfeeders off.
If ladies not sure about wanting to bfeed can do it for a few weeks, enough to get it established, they might choose to continue. Likewise the money might be an incentive to keep it up.
There is not always encouragement from family or partners, sometimes the opposite, so the money incentive might work in these cases too.

I think that the page 3 of the Sun being a totally acceptable item in every day life is the problem, attitudes need to change so that breastfeeding is a comfortable experience in public. But you are changing the direction of the titanic with that type of thing. Meanwhile paying people to incentivize them is better than nothing.

seafoodudon Tue 12-Nov-13 15:34:21

I think the 'not needing any kit' is true for some, but as has been discussed here, lots of women need to, or choose to, express. If you're on a really low income you might also struggle to fund maternity bras (or at least larger bras to support your newly engorged bazookas). Breast pads are pretty much a must for most people (whether you are a reuse and wash or disposable kinda woman). If you come from an area where bf isn't the norm, you might like to have an apron type thing for bf in public (I never used one but have plenty of friends who liked them).
And like Zara says, that's before thinking about any sort of healthcare fees that people end up paying because they desperately want to feed and cant' get the support or procedures they need on the NHS.

biryani Tue 12-Nov-13 15:43:17

mini I disagree with you about that leaflet. The statements it makes about breastfeeding are all positive (as far as I can recall). But the positive statements are not balanced by negative ones, and there are negative sides to bfeeding, well documented on this thread, which surely need to be mentioned too. The positives of ff need mentioning too, alongside the negatives. The NHs is a public body and has a duty, imo, to educate using all the available facts. Then women can make informed decisions.

I agree dozey that there is slightly too much emphasis on BFing for 6 mths, especially "exclusively" I'm sure this is because that's the WHO recommended guidance, which is great, except then it's used on somewhere like Loose Women today saying only 1% of women exclusively BF to 6 mths, well I BF my two for a so called extended period (of over 2 yrs) but because I tried DS with a few solids from around 5 mths I wouldn't make that exclusive 1% - so I just think that's a slightly silly and misleading stat to use - how many are exclusively BFing or BFing and mixed feeding at 3 mths might be more interesting ?
Sorry, did you want a full stop in there ? grin . There you go!

BoffinMum Tue 12-Nov-13 15:50:22

Elizabeth, that's just not true, at the very least most people do end up needing bigger bras, the odd tube of cream or a breast shell pack, some extra t-shirts, and some breast pads. You may be of the lentil-knitting-nettle-weaving persuasion, where any investment in kit is seen as recklessly giving in to some kind of manipulated consumer weakness, but for most of us, the odd trip to Boots or Mothercare for operational kit comes with the territory. If people recognised that we'd be half way to getting people actually bloody feeding their babies themselves, instead of pretending it's all natural and simple and serene.

CailinDana Tue 12-Nov-13 15:53:48

Why is it that the healthcare profession treat men and women so differently? Men are treated like grown adults who can make their own decisions about cancer screening etc whereas women are treated like toddlers who have to be told what's good for them (cf letters instructing women to get smears), policed (cf constant questions about contraception when my dh has never not once been asked about it) and cajoled (cf this bucket of nonsense).

Grumblelion Tue 12-Nov-13 15:57:58

Don't agree with the scheme at all - the money should be put towards breastfeeding support on post natal wards and in the community. The whole "Breast is best" campaign left me wracked with guilt for the first few weeks of my DD's life when we were struggling with breastfeeding and offering a financial incentive will just add to this for many other mums who struggle in future.

Also, what about mixed feeding? I have done this from the start for DD's health & my sanity. It's the only reason I am still breastfeeding now - does this count? How the hell can they monitor who is eligible accurately?

Very true Cailin - especially when women have babies they seem to fail to be treated as grown-ups which is possibly slightly ironic as having a baby is quite a grown-up thing to do!

Agree with lots of posters who say the money would be better spent on lactation consultants - whoever said that help is already out there, well not nationwide it isn't. I wasn't aware of a single feeding clinic within 1.5 hours of us when my DTs came home,and they'd been in hospital for 7 weeks so I was pretty clued up on most NHS facilities!
I ended up calling a La Leche helpline, but the difficulties I had (prem twins, reflux, mixed feed with meds, shields, pumping, low supply etc etc) were so specialist there was little they could effectively do over the phone.

There needs to be targeted promotion of breastfeeding to the women they want to get the message across to. So for example our Sure Start centre held a weekly baby group which was great, very bf friendly, and lots of women did feed there very comfortably. But we were all late 20s-early 30s first time mums. Sometimes younger mums would come along, but they never came for very many weeks - there seemed to be a real class and age divide, and it wasn't because of cliques or snotty comments from us older mums that I could see.

But I know that the centre also ran special sessions for young parents, and things that would benefit poorer families (job-hunting, english language classes etc). so I guess that would be the place to try and really make bf seem as normal as it did amongst our group.

NaturalBaby Tue 12-Nov-13 16:04:41

Rediculous. I can't believe anyone in power thinks this is a good idea, they clearly aren't women if they think a few vouchers is going to make a difference. What a waste of money.

It seems to me that most women have made up their minds well before they are actually pregnant.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 16:25:23

NaturalBaby, happily, this is just a small pilot scheme to test the idea, so no one has to decide on the basis of what a poster on a talkboard thinks it 'ridiculous' or not. If it makes no difference, it will be dropped.

Also, we can usefully look at research rather than guage 'what it seems to be' about when women make their decisions about infant feeding. Many do have a preference in pregnancy, it's true, but some do not. And when it comes to 'choice', most women say they want to breastfeed - but they end up not doing so, or not doing so for long. 9 out of 10 women who stop before their babies are 6 weeks old would have liked to continue - for whatever reason, their choice was removed.

It might be - or it might not be - the case that by incentivising breastfeeding, women who are from milieus where they are told it is 'weird' or 'disgusting' to breastfeed, and whose choices are affected by poor social support or even downright ostracism, may be enabled to put their choice into practice.

Yes, maybe more in schools would be good - but people seem so reluctant to talk with teens about anything to do with sex and relationships, babies or parenting - as though if they did it would encourage them all to have more sex and babies straight away.
Whereas in fact countries like the Netherlands with a good liberal education including about relationships have actually found there's been a reduction in teenage pregnancies.

Kendodd Tue 12-Nov-13 16:39:49

I don't know what I think of it really. On the face of it it just seem wrong and unfair, a bit like paying fat people to loose weight while people of a health weight don't get 'presents' from the state for saving the NHS money.

But, the bottom line is whether it works or not, if it proves to work, then it works, so I think it's worth trying, however we feel morally.

Can I ask all the people who think it's a terrible idea if they will still be dead against it if it's shown to improve BF rates?

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 16:40:57

Bf rates in the Netherlands almost the same as here, though, Juggling.

Kendodd Tue 12-Nov-13 16:45:12

How would they police this though? Make women do some sort of breast feeding test at six months? I suspect that some women may just lie, both for the money and because they feel guilty for not BFing

They should stick that money into timely and KNOWLEDGABLE breastfeeding support rather than some gimmick IMO.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Tue 12-Nov-13 16:48:12

I'd take the vouchers, spend them and bottle feed. No amount of money would have incentivised me to breast feed. And for the record, I am middle class, university educated and well off.

Well I'm surprised about that tiktok, but nevertheless they seem to have some recognised success with their sex ed and relationships education.
Perhaps they need to include more about breastfeeding too?

Zara1984 Tue 12-Nov-13 16:58:21

Kendodd even if it does work at marginally increasing bf rates (in which case, sure, keep it if it can be afforded) it does nothing to tackle the big issue of a lack of bf support and practical help at ward level and at home in the early days for new mums. Which so many posters on here, and every mum I know in RL, know to be a massive obstacle.

Putting more money into something that a lot of evidence shows to be effective (good mw support) is surely a more sensible thing to be doing than putting money (ok it's not as much as hiring lots of new clinical stuff) into an untested scheme, particularly in these times of reduced state funding.

If/when this scheme fails to be effective, I worry it might tar other bf support schemes with the same brush in bean counters' eyes.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 17:03:06
nosleeptillbedtime Tue 12-Nov-13 17:04:32

I actually really disagree with the unbalanced and dishonest promotion of bf. I think they should be honest about it so that people can make their own informed choice. And I say that as someone bf their 8 month old.

noddyholder Tue 12-Nov-13 17:06:23

And how do they plan to police this? Agree the money would be better spent on education and support. I think everyone knows that breast is best but for some people formula is the only option and seems to do a good enough job.

catellington Tue 12-Nov-13 17:16:03

nosleep what do you mean? what did you wish you had been told?

I went into it completely blind ie hadn't had time to watch the DVD they gave me so no idea what the message is. I have learnt everything I know about bf from this board and other sources recommended here.

catellington Tue 12-Nov-13 17:17:36

Thinking about it I guess that says it all!

That was interesting thanks tiktok though I think they selected the wrong conclusion - that is not the most interesting, informative or pertinent one.
I think conclusion could have included that over half of mothers in the Netherlands (just- 51%) are mainly BFing at one month, and a quarter are at 4 months.
People seem slightly too focused on this 6 month thing IMHO

seafoodudon Tue 12-Nov-13 17:24:56

I wish I'd been told that it may well be really painful (nipples and uterus). What makes me so cross is that when I told MWs that it hurt in the early days with DD1 I was told that it shouldn't if you're doing it properly. I'd then ask for guidance, and be told that what I was doing looked fine ergo it couldn't be hurting! Perhaps it was sore both times round because the latch was bad, or because the latch had initially been bad and led to bruising, but the suggestion that this isn't normal was so unhelpful.

CailinDana Tue 12-Nov-13 17:28:36

The scheme is also going to put MWs and HVs in the very uncomfortable position of having to challenge/put pressure on new mothers. It's totally unfair to expect them to police this - it could really damage the relationship with their clients. Are they going to get training on how to deal with a distraught mum who has felt compelled by circumstance ( say an abusive partner) to give up bfing but who was perhaps relying on the vouchers? Or a mum who blatantly lies and makes the HV feel like a twat?

TheFabulousIdiot Tue 12-Nov-13 17:29:43

amothersplaceisinthewrong

why didn't you want to breastfeed?

CailinDana Tue 12-Nov-13 17:31:39

Not to mention all the mws amd hvs out there who haven't a clue about bfing. They'll look like right dickheads saying "you can have money to breastfeed but no actual help."

MrsMinkBernardLundy Tue 12-Nov-13 17:33:50

It might work but it might be better if they spent the money on more advisers/lactation specialists in hospitals. The one where I had my twins was fantastic. I never found it painful. They brought in a milking machine wink and she taught me how to hand express and how to bf twins simultaneously in the rugby ball position.

so I never had the experience of finding it hard. if anything it was much easier than feeding two babies with bottles (which when I weaned them used to make me cry it was so difficult) and all the cleaning and sterilising.

but I can see that that was because I had excellent support very early on. If not I would have been clueless. other mums I have known get very little support before leaving hospital (I was in a for a week) and have to traipse along to the bf clinic with a small wailing baby in tow and sort it out when the clinic is on not at a time when it suits them, they are comfortable and relaxed etc. after already having suffered pain and anxiety.

I would never have managed that with twins and could not feed them in public anyway (twins in rugby ball position either means a very complicated arrangement of scarves or full topless nudity!)

that said if someone had offered me the vouchers I would not have said nogrin

bigbrick Tue 12-Nov-13 17:33:56

The six months bf advice is from the WHO www.who.int/nutrition/topics/exclusive_breastfeeding/en/

WidowWadman Tue 12-Nov-13 17:34:45

I've breastfed one child for 18 months, the other for 17 months. The substantial savings by not having to buy formula, bottles etc was one factor which let me persevere.

I don't think that paying an incentive is the right way to address low uptake, (and I wonder what the sums actually are if you compare the savings (if quantifiable) to the NHS from a higher BF uptake to the cost caused by paying the incentive).

Make it easier for women to breastfeed everywhere and anywhere they want, invest in peer supporter training, that kind of stuff would go much further than an one-off payment to a mother who might feel shit enough for struggling.

Also, how do you police compliance? What about mix-feeding? Early weaners (mine both started BLW/solids around 20 weeks), etc. It's a big steaming pile of poo.

ProudMum28 Tue 12-Nov-13 17:35:22

I'd have to agree with a majority of PPs that all the money that will be given in vouchers should be spent in offering a better support/provide more staffing who will educate new mothers of benefits and techniques to bf their babies.

I have a 14wo DD who so far is EBF (had one bottle of formula in hospital mainly due to the fact that I had NO support from MWs, as well as my "lovely" MiL telling me that my milk is no good, it's too watery ie. colostrum!). However, I was determined to BF my LO, as both my DH and me were BF till nearly 2yo as well as truly believing that breast is the best.

It hasn't been an easy journey, took a week for me to get her latching on properly (not that long but when you are doing it on your own it seems an age), cracked, bleeding nipples, fast let down making DDs reflux even worse, breasts engorged cos I didn't know how to express correctly, feeding round the clock every 1.5-2hrs for first 7 weeks, not getting any sleep... The list is endless, but I wanted to persevere and finally we seem to have established some sort of routine that works for us.

No amount of money could have persuaded me to persevere if I wasn't prepared to stick through it all. The fact they are now offering those vouchers sends a completely wrong message. Is that the reason women should BF, to earn some vouchers, or is it to offer the best start to their LO?

Few nights ago I watched "Is breast best - Cherry Healy investigates" and was astonished that teen moms find breastfeeding "disgusting" or to perceive breasts as sex objects. These young mums, an mums in general, should be educated on both fronts (BF and FF) to know all the pros and cons of each and let them make the decision on what's best for them. If they decide to give BF a go, adequate support needs to be offered, something I lacked completely.

Overall, I look forward to hearing the results of this "research", which, in my eyes, is completely useless and a waste of money...

MN, it would be good to put a vote option just to see how many MNers see this as a good idea.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 17:39:42

I never understand the request to 'give the pros and cons and let people make up their own mind'....

Would you include 'a substantial part of the population are dickheads and will tell you breastfeeding is disgusting and weird'?

Would you add that 'some idiots out there will think you are perverted'?

Or maybe 'there is such a lot of crap information and myth, your head will be spinning with it all'?

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 17:41:18

Proudmum, but no one knows if it is a good idea or not.

That's why it's a feasability study in a small area.

HMF1 Tue 12-Nov-13 18:03:45

The problem is that you can't look at breastfeeding in isolation. The number of people breastfeeding will never rise until society recognises that women's breasts are not there simply for sexual gratification. The whole issue is linked to the way woman' s bodies are portrayed & objectified. Until those attitudes change there are going to be huge obstacles in the way of many women breastfeeding, but I think particularly younger women. Another significant factor in starting & then continuing to breastfeed for many women is the support of partners & wider family but particularly their mothers(who might have mixed feelings on this issue if they didn't themselves).Any effort to increase breastfeeding rates has to look at the culture surrounding it. I don't think there are ny easy or quick answers on this one. But I am glad that some work is being done.

Yes bigbrick I know the focus on exclusively BFing for 6 mths arises because that is the WHO recommendation - I just think it backfires sometimes (though of course has entirely good intentions) because people only seem to use the stat (or emphasise it above others) when assessing BFing rates and durations of BFing amongst mothers (as in tiktoks link to study from the Netherlands)

Ledkr Tue 12-Nov-13 18:28:52

I'd lost both my boobs by the time my girls were born.
Bit discriminatory really.

ProudMum28 Tue 12-Nov-13 18:29:46

Tiktok, bad choice of wording, I meant just on this thread alone, it would've been good if we could vote just to get a better overview how mums who've responded so far feel about this subject.

As for pros and cons, the two you have mentioned are hardly going to be something one would hear from a professional, right? That's why I believe that people, especially younger mums need to be educated on BF front so they wouldn't listen to such statements as you've mentioned, most likely from their fellow peers. That's just my humble opinion.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 18:33:47

sad Ledkr

Surely you are not saying that your main issue is that a few deprived mothers in Sheffield might get some shopping vouchers?

And that the scheme should be a non-starter because of rare situations like your own?

I have a v. close relative in a wheelchair. She is coming up to age 60, when she will be entitled to cheap gym membership, which is part of a local scheme to encourage older people to exercise. I don't think she would complain this is 'discriminatory' because there is no way she could use a mainstream gym.

duchesse Tue 12-Nov-13 18:34:24

I would imagine it's a cost-saving exercise. £200 in grocery vouchers vs 1000s spent on the increased gastric and respiratory admissions for bottle-fed babies. I would be surprised if it worked tbh. People who don't breastfeed tend not to for reasons that are hard to overcome with a few grocery vouchers.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 18:34:29

So what are the cons you would like to hear from a professional, proudmum?

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Tue 12-Nov-13 18:35:58

I think it's a decent idea. The more breastfed babies, the better. I would have netted £800 for my four. A nice bit of retail therapy is always welcome.

hatsybatsy Tue 12-Nov-13 18:37:28

I think it would have encouraged me to persevere to 6 weeks - as it was my Mum's constant pressure to bottle feed got the better of me at about 4 weeks when I was struggling...

FloatingFree Tue 12-Nov-13 18:41:39

I had my twins in Switzerland and the health insurance companies there run a similar policy. I think I got something like £200 in cash for each child after having bf them for 3 or 6 months, signed off by my health visitor. At the time I thought it was a good idea; the idea being that it would potentially pay dividends to the insurance company at a later date by giving the babies a healthy start to life.

HOWEVER. There was no sense of there being any lacking in terms of bfing support, and I'm quite sure I would have found it a lot harder to succeed had I tried to do it here in the UK. I had help at every feed from two midwives for the week I was in hospital, and then daily visits from a midwife at home for the first two to three weeks. Quite incredible, when I think about it. And this wasn't some poncy private healthcare, we had the basic policy that every single person is required to have as a minimum. My midwife even brought me food at home and took our laundry back to her house for me when our washing machine broke down.

That's the kind of support that would make an enormous difference to uptake rates. As others have said, if the basic problem is a psychological aversion to breastfeeding in large groups of society, I don't think a few vouchers is going to make much difference. I actually revelled in getting mine, getting to the 6 month mark with twins did actually feel like a massive achievement, and I took great pleasure in treating myself.

RedToothBrush Tue 12-Nov-13 18:48:58

I don't think that anyone has commented on this, but this scheme won't cost the NHS £200 per head. It probably won't cost them anything.

Instead what they will do, is get big companies to support the scheme out of their own pockets and they probably will do.

Why? Because its great advertising, marketing and way of getting women who are starting a family into their store (and then will perhaps be loyal to that brand) and will probably spend more than their £200 in vouchers in the end. These companies wouldn't support it unless there was a financial benefit to them somewhere in the mix. We should be aware of the commercialism thats going on here and just how much of a golden egg a woman who has just had a baby really is - its not just about the ethics of offering £200 to incentivise something.

The cynic in me, has to think that this is perhaps an idea dreamt up, to win the female vote at no cost. (Whilst potentially getting someone to make a profit of it). Its an attempt to make it look like they are taking steps to address a problem, but the reality is that it fails to even understand what the real issues are. If real thought had been given to the issue, they could have come up with something better than this, and its that level of contempt that massively insulting as much as the patronising offer of money.

As someone else said, this is about getting women to comply and making them prove that they are obeying to health workers. Just throwing this out here, but a woman has a RIGHT not to want to breast feed - this type of pressure is alarming as it in some ways removes that choice. It doesn't matter if breastfeeding is ten thousand times better, using financial incentives and supervision is unethical because it affects the decision you make. To some women it may no longer make breastfeeding a completely free choice. There may be situations where the financial carrot ends up being the stick to beat women with. Don't forget the group that this is targeted at, is perhaps more likely to be one that is more vulnerable for various reasons; including abusive relationships.

And what happens next? A financial incentive to have a smear test?

In addition to this, its women being targeted massively here. Yet, as many pet subjects on Mumsnet testify to, its not just the attitudes of women that are the problem here. Far from it. Women are not somehow 'to blame'. And this is where the whole debate tends to go. They aren't trying hard enough, or they don't care about their baby enough, or they are selfish or more interested in their own looks etc etc.

So where is the education of men and what responsibility do they have here in supporting women to breast feed? Its too easy to say that women who are in the target groups are more likely to be single mothers - we aren't just talking about support they might get from their partners. We are talking about the wider support in society; from partners, fathers, brothers, friends, employers, work colleagues and complete strangers. Its not just a woman's problem and that needs to be tackled here. That means starting education in schools to brake taboos and challenge a whole bunch of negative views about it.

This scheme is nonsense, because regardless of what the outcome of the actual study ends up being, even if its positive it has some pretty nasty assumptions and views about women, their role in society, how they can be blamed and manipulated and forced into something that they might not otherwise have done without some sort of coercion.

Hideous idea. One that those doing the study should be ashamed of supporting.

catherine19 Tue 12-Nov-13 19:41:38

It will cost well over £200 in formula, bottles etc if not bf so if money was an incentive there it is!

Ledkr Tue 12-Nov-13 19:41:45

tiktok not as rare as you'd think though,
Breast cancer in pre menopausal women is on the increase, I see too many as a volunteer for breast cancer care.
Obviously at the moment the trial is hardly likely to impact massively on those women but if it became standard I do believe that yes it would discriminate or at the very least make them feel inadequate.

ChrisTheSheep Tue 12-Nov-13 19:44:20

Haven't RTFT, but I agree with all of those so far who are saying that this is patronising in the extreme, potentially damaging, and that the money would be better spent on education and support.

I tried to BF DS1 after a reduction 8 years previously. I tried ^so hard^: I harvested colostrum for weeks before he was born, so as to have a stash available in case my supply was compromised, which I knew would be likely. After a fairly traumatic 70+ hour labour and EMCS, I managed to BF for four days (pretty paltry, I know). At this point, PND kicked in, complete with anxiety-related vomiting. I couldn't keep water down, I was in pieces, DS screamed so much from hunger he lost his voice for days. My heart broke when I realised I had to give him a bottle, and I was just too physically ill to keep trying to establish BF over the next couple of weeks.

Every time I bottle-fed DS1 in public, I felt guilty. I felt like people were judging me, and, from the comments, it turned out some of them were. I guess it's good that I was in an area where BF was the norm and FF was abnormal, but if somebody had suggested that I was obviously just a bit lazy, and that a shopping voucher would have made me "try harder" with BF, I think I might have punched them. With DS2, due next year, my dream would be able to mix-feed (EBF is, to be honest, a bit of a pipe dream given my physical limitations).

Ledkr Tue 12-Nov-13 19:44:36

Also some babies are unable to breastfeed, do their mums get a consolation prize?
I can't imagine if someone doesn't want to feed that this money would particularly persuade them otherwise.

Ledkr Tue 12-Nov-13 19:49:18

chris I hope you can.
I remember that guilt well.
Two yrs ago when I had dd2 the mw asked about feeding.
I tactfully explained I'd had a double mastectomy to which she replied "ill send the breast feeding counsellor just in case!" Dh and I were like this hmm
I have visions of people proudly wafting their vouchers under our bottle feeding noses!

Wingdingdong Tue 12-Nov-13 19:53:23

Elizabeth, I spent a lot more than £200 on breastfeeding.

We spent over £300 on the private lactation consultant to confirm diagnosis, treat and follow up on DS's tongue tie, though she couldn't do anything about the lip tie. We were referred by the GP to the local NHS hospital for treatment - but the appointment was for THREE MONTHS later. I'd already had two bouts of mastitis. If I had had to wait three months for DS's TT to be treated, a) I'd have had to give up due to abscesses or b) he'd have starved. He couldn't feed properly, kept slipping off, and most of what he consumed came back up again due to wind. I also spent a fortune on hydrogel dressings over the year I BF him - the mastitis returned.

The only reason that I persevered was because I had BF my DD for a full year and I was determined to treat both DC equally. I questioned the wisdom of that so many times.

The scheme is total shite though. The money would be much better used to provide good public facilities for BFing (since that is one of the factors most commonly cited for not BFing, or for giving up) - whether designated breastfeeding spaces in public spaces or educating/encouraging retailers to make provision - and to provide support/education at all stages and rapid medically qualified help where necessary.

RedToothBrush Tue 12-Nov-13 19:57:26

www.telegraph.co.uk/health/10389401/Bribing-patients-is-bad-medicine.html Article by Margaret McCartney on the ethic of 'bribing patients'

It doesn't relate directly to this topic, but it is an interesting read on the wider debate and how increasing this idea of paying to get someone follow public health directives is completely unethical.

ChrisTheSheep Tue 12-Nov-13 19:57:53

Ledkr, that's unbelievably insensitive of the MW! What in the world did she expect you to do?

Thanks for the good wishes thanks

Flatasawitchestit Tue 12-Nov-13 20:02:42

Personally as a midwife I'd like to see the money would be ploughed into extra support for mums going through problems. And education, for everyone. Additional classes for mums to be, refresher courses for mums having second/third babies etc. Extra education for midwives and other professionals too. More lactation consultants readily available.

Sigh. If only.

At our trust we have a assistant practitioner who goes out and helps mums with feeding issues in between midwife visits if needed. She also goes along to groups. The AP's are BFI trained.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 20:06:22

Ledkr, there are some pretty poor HCPs out there when it comes to communication....sad

When this scheme is evaluated, the effect on women in the target area who did not get the vouchers will be (or ought to be) looked at.

But just as my non-walking relative does not resent the low-price gym offer to her walking friends, I'd really hope the same lack of resentment would be shown by people who would never be able to breastfeed...that would include women like you who have had breasts removed, it would include women who know they aren't ever going to be mothers because of other surgery or conditions affecting fertility, it would include women whose child-bearing is behind them, it would include adoptive and foster mothers, it would include men, for goodness sake.

Surely a bit of common sense will be shown, with no one accusing the scheme of 'discriminaton' on these grounds....?

LittleBearPad Tue 12-Nov-13 20:17:12

And the award for empathy goes to minifingers.

I would say more but my post would be deleted for breaking talk guidelines.

mrsannekins Tue 12-Nov-13 20:29:50

Todays news, along with the report last week that the NHS pays £700 to insure each birth incase of negligence have just made me more angry than I was before...

Could they not find the £900 per birth and instead invest it in better maternity services and pre and post natal support, including more breast feeding support????

Absolutely ridiculous!

LittleBearPad Tue 12-Nov-13 20:35:29

Tiktok not cons as such but a bit more honesty about the fact it's hard and it's normal for things not to just work but that many mothers need some or masses of support.

Nothing I heard from the NHS or NCT mentioned the challenges and so when things didn't just work and DD never latched on and I had to express/mix feed for the first 6 weeks before giving up expressing and ff exclusively it was a big shock. Given I felt like I'd been hit by a truck anyway it was a big old emotional mess. Midwives coming for fifteen minutes shoving my boobs in her mouth and then going 'she's really not interested is she' didn't help. The NCT breastfeeding helpline never called me back either.

trixymalixy Tue 12-Nov-13 20:41:02

My cousin formula fed, among her friends breast feeding was seen as hippyish and "bitty". I think a financial incentive would have helped some of them to give it a go and maybe help to change attitudes.

I can't see how they could police it though. I would suspect most would take the money and just pretend to be breast feeding.

bunglecat77 Tue 12-Nov-13 20:42:58

Tricky this one. Agreed that something should be done to try to improve breastfeeding rates among this demographic - it's striking that middle-class mothers are so much more likely to breastfeed, and to continue for longer. Don't know if this is the right way to change things, but it might work - and it is only a pilot, so why not? We know these mothers aren't flush, so these vouchers might be a greater incentive to them than they would be to some of the middle-class newspaper columnists banging on about lactivism and the breastapo in the papers today...

I've EBF my 4.5 month old baby so far, and I've found it really hard - at 2 weeks I was in tears all the time and dreaded every single feed. I couldn't have coped without the support I got from NCT counsellors, NHS counsellors, friends, relatives and my DH. And I certainly couldn't have coped if I had another child to look after, or if I had to go back to work quickly. If breastfeeding weren't the norm amongst my friends I might not have got beyond 3 days.

To those people saying the money would be better spent on midwives, I'm dubious. 1/2 the midwives I met (out of at least a dozen) gave me what I now know was poor advice on breastfeeding. I got much better advice from breastfeeding specialists.

DanglingChillis Tue 12-Nov-13 20:44:50

I can't say I can know what would motivate someone who is on a very low income with no family support to BF, I doubt £200 is enough though.

I think everyone thinks more and better support will help those who want to BF to BF for longer. There's an interesting debate around is that the best place to spend money or should we be trying to persuade those who don't want to BF to BF (as this study is doing)? What are the population scale benefits of each approach? And how long term are those effects? It's a complicated problem made worse by the emotions involved (would PND decrease or increase if there was more BFing mothers?)?

Camjen Tue 12-Nov-13 20:46:30

If the UK wants to see an increase in breast feeding rates then they should look towards countries such as Norway. I don't think financial incentives will play a big role in getting women to breastfeed if that was not their initial intention.

To breastfeed you need support: from family and from the bigger clinical network. The most critical time I feel is after delivery in hospital and immediately after. The money should really be ploughed into extra staff and bf support.

I agree with many people that have posted...breastfeeding is a choice. Ultimately to have a healthy happy baby you need a healthy happy mum.

Clarella Tue 12-Nov-13 20:53:01

although I agree with the vast majority of posters here, I do think the la leche response is well pitched. can't find it to link as has popped up on my fb page....

mummyxtwo Tue 12-Nov-13 20:53:21

Apologies in advance for the rant...

Some of us desperately wanted to BF our babies and tried abso-bloody-lutely everything to make it work. I was severely anaemic with ds1 and my milk didn't come in. I pumped four times a day and BF him to try to get my supply to come in, but ds1 was admitted on day 7 with weight loss >14% of his body weight and dehydration, and had to have a nasogastric tube fitted. I still tried to pump and increase supply but it wasn't happening and I gave in to formula on advice from the midwives. I was full of maternal hormones post-birth and was devastated that I couldn't feed my baby. With dd2 it went better and my milk came in, then I had to have emergency surgery after 10 days for retained placenta, still managed to BF but then got sick and developed an infection. So dd2 ended up FF too.

As well as the upset at being unable to feed my babies, formula costs a bloody fortune. There is your incentive for mums to BF! BF is free - formula costs £10 for a tin, which lasts less than a week. So the government is suggesting giving vouchers to mums who BF, and those of us who tried our darnedest and couldn't get diddly squat and have to break the bank buying formula too??! Talk about adding insult to injury.

DAFT DAFT DAFT!!!!! Rant over. Thank you.

notagiraffe Tue 12-Nov-13 20:59:43

Bad idea. I longed to breast feed but neither of my babies latched on properly and the hospital was far quicker than I was to give up as they were worried about FTT. I'd have felt that our noses were rubbed in this failure if we then missed out on other things too.

And who is policing this? I can imagine it's ripe for fraud.

"this type of pressure is alarming as it in some ways removes that choice"

How does it remove choice? Someone please explain. I just don't get this argument.

Clarella Tue 12-Nov-13 21:04:40

the llll response is so far only on their breastfeeding matters fb page

Did I post on here already? Can't remember..

Anyway, I think what we need is real life women, at our ante-natal classes, actually demonstrating breastfeeding. So you can see how it works, how it works with a bigger baby, how you dress for it etc. We could be hiring mums as 'breast-feeding models'. Our real problem here is that we don't SEE enough breastfeeding. Change that, and I bet the rates would go up.

happydaze77 Tue 12-Nov-13 21:16:47

The fact is that the people who genuinely cannot breastfeed are in the minority, yet the people who do breastfeed are also in the minority. This scheme is targeting the missing majority - those who could breastfeed, but don't.

Surely it is right to try and change that?

I'm not saying that it is their fault, just like it is not your fault if you tried, but could not, breastfeed. But if you genuinely cannot, then there is nothing that can be done. But this is no reason not to help those who could breastfeed, surely?

Whether the scheme will actually work remains to be seen. Personally I think that there should be more support available and more honest information beforehand. Society, family and peer pressure also have a lot to answer for.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Tue 12-Nov-13 21:22:04

in 21st century modern UK,is bottle feeding so utterly abhorrent and dangerous that we need to BRIBE mothers to breastfeed?

I think not. And btw showing that dreadful Mother on Channel 5 news with the haircut from hell is no incentive or encouragement to anyone.

Yes, it is right to try and change it...but not like this. They are approaching it from the wrong angle.

We did more support BEFORE we give birth, we need facts, demonstrations...I had only ever seen my mother and one friend BF by the time I became a mum at 26. Shocking really.

We need more support IN THE HOSPITAL. I left four hours after birth. Baby had not even woken up in all that time, never mind latched on. My 'advice' from the MW was 'do you know how to get him to latch?' on my way out the door. In my pethidine high state, I nodded. He lost weight, surprise surprise and had to be topped up.

We need PROPER CHECKS for tongue/lip tie etc. My boy had an undiagnosed lip tie, which he broke himself at ten months by headbutting the wall. We had finished BF at eight months, and NONE of the HCPs had noticed that his top lip didn't fan out at all while BF.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 21:30:48

LittleBearPad ...your experience was awful, no doubt about it. Certainly any antenatal prep needs to acknowledge that things can go pear-shaped. Just to say that the NCT bf line should have called you back - but as an occasional on the line, I know all calls are returned. It is monitored and surveyed. However, sometimes call-backs fail - sometimes the recording gets a glitch and we can't hear the number correctly, sometimes the mother does not pick up the call and we cannot persist (she may have decided she does not want to talk to us), sometimes there is some other tech error outside our control. I think last time the survey was done, over 95 per cent of messages were returned.

Well I am in 2 minds about the bf incentive trial - and it is just a trial to see if it makes any difference. The vouchers will have been donated so is not costing the nhs anything, its targeted at women who would not normally consider bf-ing (not the ones who want to but lack support) and bf rates in some areas are quite frankly piss poor (eg only 11% of women in Merthyr Tydfil even try to bf, let alone reach their bf goals). It would actually be easy to monitor as presumably feedback sessions will be part of the trial participation (which is voluntary). I don't think there is anything to lose here for anyone?

There are 2 strands here - encouraging women to bf in the first place and then helping them keep going once they have started. I think as a trial its worth a shot - the women they are targeting don't care about "breast is best" (which is not an nhs message) - they are adhering to their own social norms and the aim of the trial is to give them some financial incentive to step out of their norm.

And I agree with Tiktok and happydaze, especially that breastfeeding women are a minority.

I would like to see an tax on formula companies which is then passed to the nhs to fund further breastfeeding support. A tax that cannot be passed on to the base price of formula (I am not here for realistic ideas grin)

I would like to see breastfeeding adverts instead of formula ones on the tv. I would like to see huge bf billboards outside of tesco instead of sma follow on milk. I would like to see women breastfeeding in soaps. Then maybe bf would be seen as normal and these incentives/trials might not be needed but the govt keeps cutting the funding for breastfeeding support and promotion, and England is already seeing a direct decline in breastfeeding rates so this is never going to happen and so nhs trusts have to think outside of the box and collaborate on schemes like this.

<and breathe> sorry for the scrambles post but it turns out I am a bit more opinionated than I realised smile

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 21:36:52

amothersplace - what an unkind and irrelevant remark....do you really think breastfeeding mothers ought to worry about the look of their hair in order to encourage other mothers to do it? No, of course you don't. You just wanted to make a nasty comment.

marriedinwhiteisback Tue 12-Nov-13 21:39:17

I haven't read the thread but this would have finished me off nearly 19 years ago. I desperately wanted to b/f ds. After two bouts of mastitis, a breast abscess, (I carried on for two weeks with a tube inserted in my breast to drain pus into a bag so I could continue feeding) and probably, now I know more about it, thrush of the inner breast, notwithstanding cracked and bleeding nipples, this would have finished me off completely and made me feel more of a failure than I felt already.

When my ds was about 2.5 and saw the dentist the dentist commented that he had a very unusually shaped palate. I researched more - it would have got in the way of successful breastfeeding - as indeed would have my tendency to cystic breast disease. Not a single midwife, health visitor or trained professional was able to help or provide me with any solace expect the mantra that "all women can breastfeed - it's all about the latch". A lot of it is but not all.

I headed into a PND as a result - God knows where I'd have ended up if I'd FAILED to get the vouchers that could have been spent on my ds as well as FAILED to feed him and FAILED as a mother.

THIS IS THE MOST STUPID PROPOSAL I HAVE EVER HEARD AND THOSE RESPONSIBLE SHOULD BE STRUNG UP. THIS IS FUCKING RIDICULOUS AND ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME ON MNET KNOWS I'M NOT A SWEARER.

FUCKING, FUCKING, FUCKING WRONG.

Claire5517 Tue 12-Nov-13 21:40:55

I would have LOVED to BF my LO but she wouldn't latch on properly, none of the MWs in hospital or MW I have seen post-birth have been able to help me hence why I am now FF. This just makes mums like myself feel even more guilty about not being able to BF.

How to feed your baby is a personal choice. What ever you choose is right as long as you are both happy.

Mothers should want to BF because they want to, not for the financial gain.

I would love to see who's great idea this was!!!!!!!!!!

All this money they are obviously putting aside for this should be ploughed into Maternity services. Support more people to become midwives, train more midwives to help with BF.

I was kept in hospital for 3 days after having DD due to tearing but the original plan was for me to go home 6 hours after giving birth if all was ok. I cannot imagine how I would have last the 1 week I BF without that hospital stay, and speaking to other mums who kept me going that long.

I was heartbroken I couldn't feed longer.

marriedinwhiteisback Tue 12-Nov-13 21:42:10

And I fed DD successfully for 9 months - because she didn't have a funny shaped palate.

tiktok Tue 12-Nov-13 21:43:32

prettyprudence, you say "the women they are targeting don't care about "breast is best" (which is not an nhs message) - they are adhering to their own social norms and the aim of the trial is to give them some financial incentive to step out of their norm"

Totally agree. No bf campaign has used 'breast is best' for many years. Bf campaigns have completely missed whole swathes of women - they are unaffected by them. Far from feeling they're 'having breastfeeding shoved down our throats', they ignore the messages, they almost don't hear them, because the social norm is that breastfeeding hardly exists....and that is a lot more powerful than any campaign.

foxy6 Tue 12-Nov-13 21:54:03

there is a natural financial incentive to breast feeding. its saving what you would have spent on formula.

catellington Tue 12-Nov-13 22:04:41

pettyprudence and visualiseahorse great ideas. I agree. Breastfeeding needs a marketing campaign and image change and there ought to be practical help. It needs to be normalised. I bf but almost never see anyone else bf especially on TV. It can't be expected that bf will become mainstream the way things are.

As I said before, even on mn where there is such abundant good information, there are ridiculously naive ill informed and often offensive comments about bf virtually every day, so changing attitudes more widely will be an uphill struggle to say the least.

At least the voucher pilot has us all talking about it.

rabbitlady Tue 12-Nov-13 22:11:39

daughter was breastfed till age 4 and breastfed her dollies. her daughter, two tomorrow, is still breastfed and feeds her dollies, correct positioning etc just like her mum did.
that's how you make breastfeeders.

4yoniD Tue 12-Nov-13 22:12:27

Another who thinks spend the money on well-trained breastfeeding advisors, including tongue tie training, enough to be at the hospital and visiting people at home.

TransatlanticCityGirl Tue 12-Nov-13 22:28:54

It's social engineering gone mad. With all the 'breast is best' campaigning out there, if the health of your newborn + formula savings isn't incentive enough, £200 worth of shopping vouchers just isn't going to register on anyone's radar.

I BFed for 15 months, however I seriously considered switching to formula several times in the first 10 weeks. I was not getting the right support, conflicting messages from various midwives, severely cracked and bleeding nipples, and a baby who never seemed satisfied. My husband, who was formula fed himself, tried to 'support' me by letting me know it was ok to give up.

I am a very strong willed person and thankfully hubby did not actively pressure me to stop (in spite of the 'support'), however many of my friends have faced pressure from family and friends to give up by 3 months.

I would have much preferred to get that £200 in the form of one-to-one professional breastfeeding counselling.

After all, there's truth to the teaching, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach him how to fish, feed him for a lifetime."

teaandbiscuits2012 Tue 12-Nov-13 22:35:12

Agree with all the others who say money should be better spent on advice and support. I currently live in Australia (where breastfeeding rates are higher) and had access to a breastfeeding clinic somewhere in my area every day of the week. Mums could just drop in without an appointment and get support and assistance. I certainly found it invaluable and I probably wouldn't have continued feeding DD for as long as I did without it.

ProudMum28 Tue 12-Nov-13 22:56:06

Tiktok - some cons that I personally found with bfing are:
- My anxiety and stress levels in first weeks when I just didn't know whether I'm going it correctly, is baby getting enough milk etc
- No sleep as DD needed to be fed around the clock every (mostly) 1.5hrs
- Not being able to express so worrying that my supply is low and no one else being able to feed DD but me
- Losing out on social life as I don't feel confident enough to feed the baby outside
Like I said, though, these are, or better said were, my personal cons re bfing, but they are so miniscule compared to the pros of bfing and I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Iizzyb Tue 12-Nov-13 22:57:30

I was told in hospital I was feeding correctly. The day after I came home a midwife I had never met before told me I was doing it all wrong, showed me what to do for 5 seconds then left. The next day a lovely midwife assistant came to see me and helped me get sorted. She came again a few days later but I was struggling. She told me she wasn't allowed to come again. My hv offered to help but was useless and there was no way she was putting her grubby bitten fingers anywhere near me or my baby. After that I struggled on but never enjoyed it and was trapped at home much of the time because I couldn't feed whilst out. After 6 weeks I gave ds a bottle of expressed milk which he wolfed down & it was amazing but expressing is soul destroying imho & took longer than he was prepared to spend lying by himself so I stopped altogether and we've never been happier. Breast feeding isn't cheaper than formula because mums eat loads more because they get so hungry (I noticed a huge difference when I stopped bf). I totally agree more should be spent on proper bf support but I also strongly believe that those of us who are bright enough to be able to boil a kettle, operate a steriliser and have access to clean water (ie are not living in third world) should not be vilified every 5 minutes for choosing to give formula. The breast feeding propaganda I was given when pregnant was appalling. It is shocking that the nhs or whoever it is thinks it's ok to say if more mothers breastfed the nhs would save lots of money. How about targeting obesity and smoking and leaving mums alone for once?

Mum2Luke Tue 12-Nov-13 23:04:27

I started breastfeeding my eldest lad and by 6 weeks he had lost weight and was continually crying and not thriving, it was only when I told the HV I wasn't moving till I was taken to hospital to sort him.

He was found to have an intolerance to my milk and would have to go on a formula milk, to think that this government are even thinking of bribing parents is a disgrace. There are many instances like mine where babies have to have formula and these mums are going to miss out just because they aren't breastfeeding. biscuit

Thankfully he grew out of it and is a strapping 23 yr old smile

SingingMummy Tue 12-Nov-13 23:04:47

I think that the reason that women in this country do not breastfeed is because they have no help to do so. To some it comes naturally, but for most mothers and babies it is a skill which needs to be learned, and at the moment the NHS provides little or no help with this. Since many families now live far apart, new mothers often do not have help with breastfeeding from their own mothers either. Generally women are now discharged from hospital within a few hours of giving birth. In my experience the midwives in hospitals are rushed off their feet and have no time to sit with a new mother helping her to feed her baby. Breast feeding counsellors are scarce and equally rushed. Once home, midwives no longer visit every day after the birth. With my last baby we only had a couple of visits from the midwife in the days after we came home. A health visitor came once and then invited us to come and see her again when my son was about 10 months old! There are no longer weekly HV clinics at the GP’s surgery. Instead I got text messages from the Health Visitor with generalised information about a baby the same age as mine. When my 5 day old baby was briefly unwell we were sent, not back to the maternity ward, but to the hell of A&E. In short, new mothers are left largely on their own, to sink or swim. They have precious little contact with any midwife following the actual delivery and so no-one helps or teaches them to breastfeed. in the absence of that support, bottle feeding feels like the safe option, because at least you can be sure that your baby is being fed with a known quantity of milk. I breastfed two of my three children but it was not an easy process and mainly due to some patient help from my mum and my husband, and sheer bloody mindedness on my part, that I refused to be beaten by it.

It is odd that the “powers that be” in the NHS can’t work this out. The NHS seems to think that you can make people breastfeed by putting up posters, offering shopping vouchers (!) or emotionally blackmailing parents by telling them it’s bad not to breastfeed. It’s like trying to teach someone to ride a bike, cook, ski, drive a car, speak French - whatever skill it is, by shouting at them that they simply must do it. What you need to do instead is to invest the time, money and resources to show and teach mums and babies how to feed. Then rates might go up.

If I was given £200 I'd spend it on a private consultant to release my Ds' upper lip and tongue tie as I can't afford it.

For months now I can only manage 2 feeds a day and always cut them short because of the pain. The teeth marks in my nipples remain for hours.

MsJupiterJones Tue 12-Nov-13 23:09:29

happydaze I think you are completely wrong - while there are hundreds, thousands of women who want and hope to breastfeed but are faced with issues like tongue tie, mastitis, late supply, these should be the women who receive additional support from trained consultants and midwives, access to practical help (not a 2 week wait for a tongue tie clinic for a 9-wk-old desperately underweight baby whose mother is clinging to the thought that if she just tries harder her son will be able to bf)

The more we can help people who actively want to bf, the more positive stories and outcomes there will be, the more visible and normal it will seem, then start tackling those who don't currently choose to do it. This scheme is upside down.

Oh and as others have said, a good start to the campaign to promote bf would be to ban page three and other publications that promote breasts solely as sexual objects.

bumperella Tue 12-Nov-13 23:28:35

We don't pay people to give blood, or other donation of body parts/fluid, even though blood transfusions are far more life-saving than breast-feeding is. I don't think we should be giving a financial incentive in this way. It's absurd and misses the point (and unlikely to work).
The money could be far better spent on other NHS services.

Happydaze, I don't agree that the majority of women in the UK CAN breastfeed. Sorry.

bigbrick Tue 12-Nov-13 23:41:18

If it was that difficult to bf then humanity would have been wiped out long ago. People need to know it takes time. The mum has to give herself to the babies needs and bf on demand. People who do have medical problems need help with bf but the majority just need to get on with it

I never said it was difficult (though challenge anyone to bf a baby with ULT and TT and teeth), I said the majority in the UK 'can't'.

And giving £200 won't change that.

Incidentally, can you spend it on wine?

WotchOotErAPolis Tue 12-Nov-13 23:49:17

Utter rubbish! Breastfeeding is free anyway so why pay Mums to do it?!

And what are they going to do if they catch a Mum bottle-feeding? How do they police this? Will they shove the vouchers up her blouse when she gets her breasts out to feed, and grab them back as soon as she's seen in public with a bottle!

Come on - lets get real - I was lucky [yes, I use that word advisedly] to be able to breastfeed and enjoy it, but that doesn't mean everyone else should or could!

This policy is actually the wrong way round if they're going to do it at all - we should be giving the Mums who have to bottlefeed the vouchers, as they will need the money more!

Bemused33 Wed 13-Nov-13 00:07:32

i worry about women in abusive relationships with a partner putting significant pressure on them for a £200 voucher. dreadful idea in my honest opinion. Maybe better education and help in the hospitals. I was treated like a piece of meat after having DD. The memories of trying to breastfeed were more traumatic than the birth and I did not even try with my following two as it made me want to be physically sick. i have three healthy, gorgeous children.

CoolStoryBro Wed 13-Nov-13 00:27:23

Having happily and easily breastfed my first two children (and, quite frankly, had probably been, very irritating whilst doing it), it came as an enormous shock when my third was, quite frankly, completely useless at it. I cried for hours and hours at how useless I felt as my nipples bled and my 3rd time round uterus contracted in a pain I had never before experienced, and didn't again, even after having another baby a year later.

Ending that cycle of misery, allowing me to get back to what I was kind of good at (ie just being a Mum), was the best thing I ever did. And, as much as I like John Lewis', I wouldn't have changed anything for 200 quid of their vouchers!

CoolStoryBro Wed 13-Nov-13 00:28:00

Apologies, for all the quite franklies in that post!!

Jenny1960 Wed 13-Nov-13 02:46:04

I breast feed my baby girl!she is now 31 ! and now having a child of her own which she wants to breast feed!, I got no support 31 years ago I basically was made to feel a freak!!! So things have not changed! I only stayed with breast feeding as my daughter wouldn't take a bottle ! I was asked to give a talk mmm I didn't!!!( I was the only mum out of 9 to feed my baby) I struggled !!
Breast is best that what they say !! Yes I agree !! Even if it's for a few days!! Don't beat yourself up if you can't do it !!

Jenny1960 Wed 13-Nov-13 03:05:43

Who decided to reward mums for breast feeding !! What a load of b.....s
Only certain parts of country though !!!
Beggars belief !
Some expectant mums want to breast feed other expectant mums don't !!plus there are mums who want to and can't to me the ones that can't need to be supported!
The only thing this is going to happen is the mother who have not a lot of money ,telling midwife, health visitor ( I have breastfeed my baby!) how are they going they going to police this ffs !(please don't come back with her boobs will leak, not everyone do !!!!!)

Jenny1960 Wed 13-Nov-13 03:18:39

I had no help what so ever 31 years ago !! My daughter wants to breast feed and I know things haven't changed help wise ! ! Discussing !!! I struggled big style !but my little girl wouldn't take a bottle(a bottle would of been so much easier !) I don't regret breast feeding my girl but I would of thought there would of been more support 31 years on !! Nope ! Thing is babies who are bottle feed there teats have changed big style over the last 31 years ( more like nipples now !????)

dozeydoris Wed 13-Nov-13 06:55:10

They have drop in clubs now for new mums - it would be obvious who is breast feeding because they would be breast feeding, not formula feeding. Not rocket science.

inadreamworld Wed 13-Nov-13 09:28:35

Don't feel guilty LittleBear. I had similar experience to you and couldn't do it either. People think we didn't try but some women just can't breastfeed.

I would be tempted to pretend just to get the vouchers....(ashamed of dishonesty...skulking away now....)

JethroTull Wed 13-Nov-13 10:21:29

They'd be better off spending the money on increasing support for women wanting to BF. Having recently given birth in Derbyshire there was lots of info pre birth from my midwife but the support whilst in hospital was shockingly poor.

pertempsnooo Wed 13-Nov-13 10:37:54

I expect someone else has already questioned HOW ARE THEY GOING TO KNOW?? ... for sure, that someone is continuing bf? Observe every baby on the boob and then hand the cash over? IDIOTS.

tiktok Wed 13-Nov-13 10:44:05

This - 'how are they going to know?' - will be one of the aspects tested for in the pilot.

Currently the plans are that HVs and midwives will verify. If they find that women are liable to lie about it (I don't think this is likely to happen a lot), this would be included in the evaluation.

But how will they verify? Are they planning to just ask the women? How will MWs and HVs decide that women are liable to lie - how does a subjective judgement ("she looked a bit shifty, I think she was lying") get incorporated into an objective evaluation of the scheme.

Disabled people are made to prove themselves before they are given some benefits. The government doesn't believe that they can be trusted to be honest. Are new mothers innately more trustworthy than disabled people, or are MWs and HVs just better at spotting liars than a GP?

Here's a cynical thought - the government want to improve the figures for breastfeeding because it will make them look good (especially if they've brought in an incentive/ can be seen to have done something) - they don't care if women lie about it in order to get some vouchers. It's easier to get more women saying they are breastfeeding (with a bribe) than actually to support more women breastfeeding for longer.

(contender for cynic of the year award ?!)

JollySeriousGiant Wed 13-Nov-13 11:06:06

I think it's a good idea. I BF DS for 20months. I'm 11 weeks into BFing DD.

With DS BFing was not easy. I had bleeding nipples constantly until he was 6.5 months old and have permanent scarring as a result. I also had mastitis repeatedly. And DS was admitted to hospital with failure to thrive.

I've always said that I chose to continue BFing because BFing was such a high priority for the health benefits for DS were more important than the pain I was in. Maybe a financial incentive will encourage other women to put BFing higher up their list of priorities.

tiktok Wed 13-Nov-13 11:06:40

I don't know how they will verify - they may make mistakes and the occasional porky-pie teller will get some vouchers. The evaluation will (or should) include questions to the HCPs - how confident are you the vouchers went to the right mothers?

I think we have to live with a bit of uncertainty, to be frank. I really don't think it will be a major issue, and I don't understand why people are so worried about it (dozens of posts about it on this thread alone).

lilacmamacat Wed 13-Nov-13 11:08:00

Utterly utterly stupid and misguided! This is sending the completely wrong message and means that mums who want to bf but can't (been there, done that, felt like a total failure) are not recognised or 'rewarded'. Money needs to go towards education and guidance before and during pregnancy.

matana Wed 13-Nov-13 11:22:48

I agree with those who have said the money would be better spent on breastfeeding support, advice and help to get it right. I do think women should be properly encouraged and supported to BF but not made to feel like a failure if it doesn't work out.

The number of women who are able to breastfeed successfully would be increased with better support. I was fortunate - i had the advice of a big sister who had already done it, as well as the benefit of a breastfeeding workshop prior to giving birth. And it helped that DS took to it really easily.

But i also have a friend who persisted with it even though it wasn't working out, because she felt she would be failing her dd if she gave up. Turned out her DD was not latching on correctly resulting in no milk for her dd, a crying baby who lost a lot of weight in the first week and a mum on the brink of depression. She had no support at all and ended up bottle feeding, which turned out to be much better for her. However, had she received the help at the outset she may have been able to continue.

I do think there is also a cultural change required though. It might sound silly, but the number of babies on soaps who are bottle fed always makes me a bit sad. I am no breastfeeding evangelist, I was bottle fed, as were my two sisters, but it's little things like that (along with appropriate support for new mums) which might help improve 'normalise' breastfeeding in our society.

PrincessChick Wed 13-Nov-13 11:58:46

I think it's really patronising to "reward" women for breastfeeding. Yes, I can see the wider arguments for this: incentivise bf'ing in poorer areas, try and make bf'ing the norm to change attitudes over time etc. But to me, it feels like some sort of prize or competition. And new mums do not need any more pressure.

I expect that if the vouchers are offered to women in low income areas, they will be able to cross check with formula vouchers ie if you claim formula vouchers you won't be eligible for the JL vouchers. I don't know much about the vouchers but do they cover the costs of formula for the week? I guess if they do the cost saving is not having to buy bottles, sterilising stuff etc.

I ebf my DD, who is 5 months and she fed really well from the off. My mum bf my brother and sister til they were two, I was ff (I'm no different to my brother and sister in health / intelligence) so I didn't feel under great pressure if I couldn't bf for any reason. She was amazing over the first few days with helping me. I had great support in hospital, from midwives at home visits and at a local breastfeeding clinic when I had a cracked nipple. My DH is very pro bf and therefore has been brilliant at helping me with baby and doing a huge amount of cooking / cleaning / supporting / thanking for feeding his baby etc. I've had a very positive experience all-round. I'm incredibly lucky. I've seen the bad: I've had other friend's who've had crap or no help and have felt like utter failures. I've seen them cry and beat themselves up. And I live in a very pro breastfeeding part of the country. I dread to think what it's like in other parts if the country.

Perhaps as many others have suggested the money would be better spent on resources - more help, bf'ing cafés, LLL drop ins etc. How about a pro breastfeeding bounty pack for new mums rather than big brand sponsored pack. A couple of books, leaflets on the pros and cons of different feeding methods, a tube of lansinoh, a mamascarf, money off nursing bras or a feeding vest / top? This could be put together for a fraction of £200, leaving money over for more support.

But, no, I do not think this pilot scheme is in any way helpful. sad

Minifingers Wed 13-Nov-13 12:06:31

"And new mums do not need any more pressure."

Nobody's forcing them to take part in the pilot.

If they don't want to do it they can say 'no'. They're adults aren't they?

And the scheme isn't asking women not to use formula as far as I understand.

"Perhaps as many others have suggested the money would be better spent on resources"

My understanding is that it isn't coming out of the same budget - it's a trial, not part of normal NHS spending on breastfeeding support.

tiktok Wed 13-Nov-13 12:12:48

Princess - hope you won't mind me correcting some misinfo smile

* there is no such thing as 'formula vouchers' and has not been for many years. 'Healthy Start' vouchers are for women on low incomes and cover milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk
* if you have a baby under the age of 12 mnths, you can get Babies under two vouchers a week worth a total of £6.20, which is a bit under the usual retail price of one pack of powdered formula
* there is no suggestion women getting shopping vouchers would have to give up their Healthy Start vouchers

Your breastfeeding gift pack sounds great - but is it not better to give mothers the choice of what to buy with their vouchers?

tiktok Wed 13-Nov-13 12:13:59

to clarify: "if you have a baby under the age of 12 mnths, you can get two vouchers a week worth a total of £6.20" - sorry, editing error