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 sourceAs 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 excellent for bub, in fact its perfect in every-way, containing everything the baby needs and it comes all nicely packaged that allows mother and baby to bond beautifully. However there are a number of mothers who simply can't breastfed for a variety of reasons and what we can't tell from these statistics is the number who have difficulties to those who choose not to breastfeed and only rely on formula.  However the numbers wouldn't be huge. Those women who can't breastfeed should never feel less of a mother due to this and should never be judged differently for opting for the use of the bottle (I know many do though). What is more important is that mum isn't stressed and baby is healthy, loved and cherished. 

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. 


  1. I was shocked that the rates were so high for Australia because it definitely feels like there has been a swing to more bottle-feeding and that breastfeeding is somewhat frowned upon.
    I'm all for breastfeeding - so perfectly designed and packaged for babies - it really is their perfect food!
    It saddens me the number of people who choose not to breastfeed giving up because its "too hard" when in reality, they really do have the 'ability' to feed if they persist at it! Who said having a new born was easy right???? ;-) I know from experience!!!! hahaha I had a hard time learning at the start but it was oh so worth it in the long run! I fed my daughter til she was 2 1/2. Its not only good for babies but good for mummies too :-)
    The idea of giving money - hmmmmm - how on earth would that be monitored????
    I have done a lot of research into formula fed babies and the reality is they just aren't as healthy, and there are many long-term consequences too! Sad that our soceity can't see it like that - that apparently breastfeeding is 'shocking' and repulsive, but women walking around beaches with their breast hanging out of tiny bikinis is appropriate!
    Ok I'll stop - I could rant all day!! Something I'm very passionate about!!!!! hahahah!

    1. I wouldn't be surprised that lots of mums express milk and bottle feed when out, so it looks like they are using formula when perhaps they aren't.

      I think finding out why these mums aren't breast feeding and tackling the root cause would be better than handing out vouchers. And as you say, how will be be monitored. The people who can least afford formula are the ones buying it - they are also the least educated which may be part of the problem as well. Imagine how much better off they would be if they stopped buying formula.

      I couldn't understand why formula companies were even in the US hospitals - I thought that was terrible. I did wonder how much money the hospitals made from the formula companies allowing them in?? Very unethical. Unfortunately formula companies are very unethical as seen in developing nations and how they have gone in and made huge $$$ and they are even bigger in China. Each tin of formula in China costs $70 - now that is profits:((( Its this sort of behaviour that makes me really cross.

      I think places like Norway have a completely different attitude to breastfeeding, unlike us and therefore it is see as "completely normal".

  2. I love breastfeeding, and think it is absolutely the way to go! My munchkin is going strong at 2yrs and 1 mth and I am glad about that! I love the relationship that comes with breastfeeding.
    I have read that only 5% of women have problems which would stop them from breastfeeding, but it seems that it is more a problem of the support that is available. Because let's face it, it isn't like having a drink of water, there is some skill involved!
    Until someone in the limelight in the UK starts being really public about breastfeeding, I expect the poor numbers will continue. Sad really, because there is a lot of guilt on the part of those who don't do it, and that isn't necessary! They know they should do it the "natural" way, but it isn't the done thing!

    1. I loved breast feeding too, very special time. Certainly good if a film star stood up and encouraged breast feeding, that would be wonderful. It would also be great if girls were educated better at school about breast feeding. I wonder if those girls who don't breast feed had mothers who didn't do it either, becoming a generational issue.

  3. I wonder if it's because those mothers are trying to work to better themselves, rather than staying home with baby and breastfeeding? If they're working, they might see formula as the only option.

    As for breastfeeding here - I remember seeing formula in the kitchen in the maternity ward where I had my babies. I personally breastfed as long as possible - 7-8 months was all I could manage - with #1 my body couldn't handle breastfeeding and pregnancy so my milk dried up; with #2 my milk dried up when I grieved the death of my mother. :( I wish I could have breastfed longer; I hated using formula and wish I hadn't had to/had known of other things to use instead - I know formulas are terrible and not healthy at all. Can't turn back the clock though. And looking back just makes me feel guilty even though I didn't know any better and couldn't have breastfed for longer. :(

    1. Whilst formula isn't good it isn't really bad either and babies will still grow just as well, however it will never be as good as mums milk.

      No, we can't turn back the clock, I would certainly have done differently. But I won't beat my self up over it.

      No I don't thinks its women returning to work, these women never start breast feeding and most women take at least six months off work so plenty of time to breast feed.

  4. Hello, I think it is a shame when the Government has to pay a woman to do what the good Lord gave us breast to feed our wee ones. But I guess so many Mommas work outside the home now days.
    But here in the US. Our hospitals really do encourage breastfeeding. They have a special staff that works with each new Mother.
    But many of our little ones are being born at home;
    I had my first at home and our second one was a Birthing center. And you are so right about the window being very small for being able to nurse our babies.
    This was a very interesting post!
    Blessings, Roxy

    1. No I don't thinks its women returning to work, these women never start breast feeding and most women take at least six months off work so plenty of time to breast feed. I think there are other factors in play here including lack of education and knowledge .

      Have a lovely weekend. I'm off to visit my parents so an early start tomorrow morning to catch the plane.


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