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Breastfeeding Incentive Scheme ‘Shows Promise’

A scheme that offers new mums £200 in shopping vouchers to breastfeed is gathering momentum, despite some critics calling it bribery

It’s been a year since news broke that mums would receive £200 worth of shopping vouchers if they breastfeed their baby. And according to researchers, the scheme shows promise.


The research, funded by a partnership between the Government and a medical research sector and run by Sheffield University, says that mums will have to nurse for a full six months to qualify for the vouchers, which a health visitor or midwife will verify.

In a trial run, mums in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, where breastfeeding rates were low, were offered the vouchers. Of the 108 eligible, 58 women signed up and 37 earned vouchers for breastfeeding.


Next there will be a bigger trial run, involving 4,000 women.

'The UK has one of the worst breastfeeding rates in the world – yet it gives better health outcomes to mums and babies, and saves the NHS money'

‘The UK has one of the worst breastfeeding rates in the world – yet it gives better health outcomes to mums and babies, and saves the NHS money,’ says Dr Clare Relton, from Sheffield University’s School of Health and Related Research, who’s running the scheme. ‘During the last year, our small-scale tests have shown that midwives and health visitors were happy to tell mums about the scheme.

'We think this idea has the potential to increase breastfeeding rates in the UK, but we don't have enough information yet. So we are conducting a large-scale trial to help us find out how acceptable and effective the scheme is - and whether it would a good use of public money in the future.’


However there are critics, including doctors, who think the scheme is simply bribery. ‘You're asking for a payback from some mums who can't necessarily give it,’ says Dr Colin Michie, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. ‘Not all mothers can breastfeed for a range of reasons – so it's just not fair. It is essentially a bribe if you're offering money for breastfeeding.

‘This pilot scheme has been a success – but it would be nice if we could incentivise mums to breastfeed without paying them.’

Would £200 to spend on the high street encourage you to breastfeed for six months? Let us know in the comments box below. 




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