This morning I woke to the news that the government are piloting an incentive whereby new mums who breast feed will be given vouchers for high street stores. Mum's will get up to £200 for breastfeeding for 6 months, however will receive £120 if they breast feed for 6 weeks. Is this the correct or best way to encourage new mums to breastfeed?? In my opinion - No.
As usual the government is throwing money at a situation. Yes times are difficult and yes as a new mum money is tight however if they had thought about the situation properly they would realise that if a mum breast feeds her baby she is saving money anyway, you don't need bottles, sterilisers or formula if you breast feed!! Also if they would have asked mums (who experience this after all!) I'm sure many if not all would say that they would want money spent on increasing support available to new mums.
Out of my friends who I have spoken to about breastfeeding only 1 never tried. The others had varying degrees of "success". Some managed for a few days, some a week and others breast fed for months. Each mum who had to turn to the bottle after trying to breast feed felt guilty and a bad mum for not being able to continue breastfeeding. Does the government really think that offering vouchers is going to change whether someone is able to breast feed or not? Surely it's going to add more pressure to new mums who already feel they have to be "perfect".
I have attended antenatal classes that have been offered by my trust, some mums (and some of my friends) don't attend, where to they get there information from?? The internet is great - help and advice from other mums is invaluable but it shouldn't replace professional support. I felt empowered and informed after the breastfeeding session of our antenatal classes and a little less anxious about trying. I have also been lucky in that my trust have STAR buddies. They are on the wards and in the community and I have already had contact from a STAR buddy. I have received support even though bump isn't here yet and I am also going along to a breastfeeding workshop, on the invitation of the STAR buddy, to have a chat with other mums. I don't know if this is available everywhere but I've found it really useful.
I really think that supporting new mums is the way forward, rather than bribing them.