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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?

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.

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