Paying mums to breast feed
What do you think of this idea?
New mothers in Britain are to be offered up to £200 in shopping vouchers to encourage them to breastfeed their babies. . . . To qualify for the full £200 of rewards, the women will have to breastfeed until six months. (source)
Britain has one of the worse breastfeeding rates in the world and whilst the British National Health Service recommends breastfeeding (exclusively) for the first six months, only 34% of women in Britain do so. Breastfeeding is more likely to occur in more affluent families whilst lower socio-economic areas are less to breastfeed. As a result the British government is attempting to improve rates in poorer areas by offer shopping vouchers to mothers who breastfeed. I am not sure how success it will be. I think finding out the root cause and working from that level might be more productive.
In Australia (2011-12), 92% of mothers initially breastfeed, by 4 months 74% of babies are being breastfed, between 6 to 9 months the rate had declined to 50% and only 30% of mums were breastfeeding by the time their baby reached 9 to 12 months. However it’s important to note that this does not mean “exclusive” breastfeeding, less mothers exclusively breastfeed—according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics: Exclusive breastfeeding to 2 months of age occurred for over half (57.8%) of all children aged 2 months or more, 38.6% had been exclusively breastfed to at least 4 months or age. Exclusive breastfeeding to at least 6 months occurred for 17.6%. (ABS source)
In the USA (2010) breastfeeding is improving, the number of mothers who have "ever breastfed" is 77% (71% in 2000), 49% of mothers were breastfeeding by 6 months (but only 16% breastfeeding exclusively) and 27% to 12 months (up from 16% in 2000). (CDC source) As a comparison, in 1971, only 25% of American mothers breastfed their babies - things have come a long way - it jumped to 62% by 1982 (Reuters: source)
Norway is the place to be for breastfeeding: almost every baby (99%) are breastfed initially and 70% are being breastfed exclusively at 3 months.” (source) Whilst hospitals in Norway are breastfeeding friendly (likewise in Australia) and encourage breastfeeding, to my surprise (in 2007) only 14% of US maternity centres/hospitals refused to give out formula. This meant that 86% of hospitals offered formula to new mothers. This is just crazy. Whilst this has improved, the US is still not yet considered to have a "baby-friendly" rating such as Norway does is when it comes to the advocating of breastfeeding in hospitals.
Breastfeeding is such a precious time and doesn't last very long in the scheme of things and I can remember feeling very sad when it came to an end with my youngest knowing that was it for ever.