Is this the only way to have a healthy baby?

Is this the only way to have a healthy baby?

In a bid to increase the amount of mothers who breastfeed- new mums will be given £200 in shopping vouchers if they do so. Of those who signed up for it- two thirds breastfed for six weeks.

Over 4,000 women will be offered the same incentive- mothers will receive £120 in shopping vouchers for those who breastfeed for six weeks and this will raise to £200 if they continue for six months. It is argued that this will tackle the so called ‘stubbornly low’ rates of breast feeding in the UK.

As with most things- it was slammed by critics who believed it to be “dangerous and insidious precedent” for the state to offer money for such a thing.

Under the scheme include the likes of Argos, Debenhams and Poundstretcher, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons. If the mothers sign a form to say that they have breast fed their child for six weeks- they will get the first instalment of the vouchers and the second if they carry on for six months.

Principal investigator Dr Clare Relton from the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research said: “For several decades now the majority of babies in the UK have not been getting enough breast milk, and despite many efforts, this situation has not improved. Now we need to conduct the full trial to find out if offering vouchers for breastfeeding can significantly increase our stubbornly low breastfeeding rates and be a cost effective use of UK public funds.

“Last year, there was a lot of controversy about the scheme and we didn’t know if it would be acceptable, so we have been delighted to see how enthusiastic local mothers and healthcare professionals have been.”

Mary Renfrew, Professor of Mother and Infant Health at the University of Dundee said: “In areas where most babies are bottle fed women need support to breastfeed. This scheme could make a difference. It’s great to be able to test it properly in a large trial.”

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said: “The RCM is interested in these initial findings and it is clearly important given the serious need to improve breastfeeding rates that these are explored further.”

But she said other ways to improve uptake of breastfeeding should also be introduced, such as recruiting more midwives who specialised in infant feeding.

It does beg the question however, how do you prove that you have breast fed? Signing a form is placing faith in a lot of women, some of whom may be liberal with the truth for the sake of some free vouchers.

Many people who were not breastfed as a child would argue that they have no lesser bond with their mother than those who were. In fact, in one case study- the subject’s mother was advised not to breastfeed by her doctor because she struggled. And that is the reality- some women find it incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes impossible to provide their child with milk. Should they be put through weeks of discomfort for the sake of social acceptance?

There are so many conflicting stories about the benefits of breastfeeding that surely it comes down to the individual and whether they feel it’s right for them and their child?  

Big brands in this arena have created replacements that claim to provide you child will all of the necessary ingredients that a baby needs to grow up healthily.  So why are people so against the alternative?


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