Some sixty-five per cent of mums say being given £200 would not encourage or have encouraged them to breastfeed, according to a Workingmums.co.uk survey.
Some 32% said it would have made a difference while the rest didn’t know. The survey of over 215 mums follows the announcement that the government and medical researchers are to offer new mothers from three deprived areas are to be offered up to £200 in shopping vouchers to encourage them to breastfeed their babies. If the pilots are successful, the plan is to roll it out nationwide next year.
The responses to the poll came from women including those who had wanted to breastfeed, but had difficulty doing so, many of whom felt it would make other mums who had similar problems feel even worse about not being able to breastfeed.
One woman said: “I feel that all breast feeding information should carry the proviso IF YOU CAN. In my case, I had difficulty with flat nipples to start so needed to wear plastic shields, and a hungry baby who would punch her little fists as she was not getting enough. I tried supplementing with bottles and then just gave up. Three years later, as my daughter had accidentally kicked me in the breast while playing, I had scans done and discovered that I had blocked milk ducts so was unable to breast feed. For anyone who wants to breast feed but is not able for physical reasons, [the scheme] amounts to a form of discrimination.”
Another said: “I breastfed all three of my children because I wanted to. Breastfeeding is about so much more than nutrition. It is about bonding, nurturing and selfless love and commitment to your babies’ needs. You should not need payment for that.”
Those who supported the scheme said anything that could be done to boost the UK’s very low breastfeeding rates was a good thing. Others felt the vouchers should accompanied by more support for breastfeeding in hospitals. One woman said incentives should be targeted. She said: “I do not agree with being paid to breastfeed. I think it is a personal choice and I would not expect to be paid to do it when women have been doing it for centuries for nothing – it feels wrong, I understand that incentives might be a good thing for some, but perhaps more consideration on where the incentives should be is required.”
Others were concerned that the scheme could be open to fraud. They asked how it would be monitored. One woman asked: “This will not be an incentive. It will be money for nothing. Too many people will abuse this. How would they prove these people are actually breastfeeding?”