Paying mums to breastfeed works

A controversial scheme rewarding breastfeeding mums with £200 vouchers is so successful, say academics, it's going to be extended

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Offering us money to breastfeed our babies works. So say University of Sheffield academics, who’ve been running a voucher-incentive scheme in the north of England for the past year. And it works so well, they say, they’re going to extend the scheme to more mums-to-be.

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The scheme, called Nosh, was devised to help boost the nation’s poor breastfeeding rates, and offers mums who manage to breastfeed vouchers for supermarkets or high-street shops, worth up to £200.

Initially, 130 new mums in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire were asked to take part in the experimental initiative. They were offered an increasing number of vouchers if they breastfed for 2 days, 10 days, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months old.

During the study, over half of all those eligible signed up, and a third claimed vouchers for breastfeeding their baby for up to 6 weeks.

Mums who took part said it felt good to be acknowledged for their effort to carry on breastfeeding. “Sometimes you think, ‘Should I just move on to the bottle now?’” said one, “and then I think, ‘Oh but then I won’t get the money to be able to treat them’, so it does help.”

“There was a lot of controversy about the scheme [at the start] and we didn’t know if it would be acceptable,” said Dr Clare Relton of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research, “so we have been delighted to see how enthusiastic local mothers and healthcare professionals have been.

“Now we need to conduct the full trial to find out if offering vouchers for breastfeeding can significantly increase our stubbornly low breastfeeding rates and be a cost effective use of UK public funds.”

The new, larger-scale trial will be rolled out to more than 4,000 mums in Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

What do you think? Should women be paid to breastfeed – or not? Please do tell us in the comments below…

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