Incentives to Breastfeed – One step too far?

Incentives to Breastfeed

The older I get and the more I actually understand what is going on in this country (and the world), the more I despise it. The more I despise this government.

It is feeling awfully Big Brother-esque in a workhouse.

The government is trying to dictate our every move. Dictate EVERYTHING that we do..including how we bring up our children.

Yes, I know that there are laws for a reason and they must be abided by – but seriously! First we have them wanting to put our children in to a formal education from 2 years old! TWO YEARS OLD for goodness sake! They want our babies to enter a structured education system at a young, vulnerable age – so they can brainwash them? So they can make mould them to how they want them?

And now they are BRIBING Mothers to breastfeed their babies!

I have spoken on here before about breastfeeding. I didn’t manage to breastfeed my first 2 for various reasons (albeit 2 weeks with my first). My 3rd I fed for 14months until I had to have an operation and could no longer feed her. My 4th stopped breastfeeding at 1 year.

I’m not a hippy, YOU MUST BREASTFEED Mother. I do not pressure any woman to breastfeed – but I will tell you the benefits of it, or how I managed it – if you ask. I am PRO FEEDING – whether that be bottles with formula, bottles with expressed breast milk or exlusively breast-fed.

I DO NOT agree with BRIBERY. It’s treacherous in my opinion.

Under the new incentive, Mothers will be offered up to £200 in vouchers for High Street Stores (reported at being Matalan, Mothercare, John Lewis … and even Poundland) if they Breastfeed their babies.

The vouchers will be staggered and given £40 for still breastfeeding at 2 days, another £40 if still breastfeeding at 10 days and another £40 if still continuing at six weeks. They will also receive £40 at 3 months and £40 at six months if they are still breastfeeding.

There are various issues I have with this – and not just the bribery.

1. Some Mother genuinely cannot breastfeed for a multiple of reasons. I tried so very hard to breastfeed my first child but I just couldn’t. We battled for 2 weeks. I was tired, I was sore. My baby was constantly screaming. I gave up. I gave in and gave him a bottle and he changed instantly because he was no longer going hungry. I felt like a failure. I ended up with Post Natal Depression and ended up on medication. My second baby I was told I could not breastfeed because of the PND Medications I was still taking.

2. Some babies do not want to breastfeed or cannot breastfeed. Just like Mothers, not all babies can or want to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is difficult. It’s hard and babies have to learn to do it. Some struggle.

3. Surely there are better ways to spend this money? An ONS Births Report says that in 2012 there were  729,674 live births in England and Wales. Around 74% of Mothers will breastfeed for the first few days, this drops to around 47% for those still breastfeeding exclusively at 6-8 weeks and this drops further down to 32% still exclusively breastfeeding after the first 6-8 weeks.

So, say we stick with the above figures for this new initiative  – 74% of 729,674 is 539,958.75 (we’ll round it up to 539,959). If Mothers just feed for the first 2 days, that is a whopping hand out of £21,598,360.00. Double that if we say the same amount of mothers are still breastfeeding at 10 days = £43,196,720.00.

Now, that drops down to 47% of those still breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks, so the next payout at six weeks is less at  £13,717,880.00 and less again at £9,339,840.00 for 3 months and then again for 6 months of breastfeeding.

So in total – the Government could potentially be splashing out £97,192,640.00 per year in BRIBES!

Considering the amount of debt that the country is in – I really cannot fathom how they can justify this spend? Surely it is better to invest a chunk of money in EDUCATING mothers on how to breastfeed properly, the benefits of breastfeeding etc and campaigning for it to be better accepted in public, rather than throwing money at Mothers to get them to breastfeed! That will not work and it is going to cause a huge amount of issues.

And the best part – they won’t even know if you are still breastfeeding. You only have to tick a form to say you are and that’s it. So anyone can simply say they are breastfeeding their baby and get their vouchers. There will be no regulation!

I really wish this government would listen to the public! Stop introducing such ridiculous schemes and invest their money more wisely! I am really hoping that this scheme doesn’t roll out nationwide – there is going to be a big back lash if they do.

What do you think of the scheme? Ridiculous or do you actually agree with it? I’d love to know your thoughts.


*Stats are from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and The Gov.UK website 



  1. November 12, 2013 / 11:29 am

    I totally agree with you on all your points. I breastfed both of my children but it was blinking hard work (esp the first) and I think having money as an incentive would have put pressure on me and possibly led to resentment. I now volunteer as a breastfeeding supporter in a hospital in Mansfield (North Notts and close to South Yorks/Derbys where the study in being carried out) which has much lower breastfeeding rates than many of the country.

    I have to say in this area, there is a very very strong sway towards formula feeding and many mums are not being informed (I think at the antenatal point) of the feeding choices. They automatically bottle feed as that is what their mums did and there is a very strong family influence. I am totally pro choice but do think anything (even a financial incentive) that would make a mum think twice about her feeding option is a good thing.

    Saying that breastfeedinng support is a much more sensible way to go – there are lots and lots of highly qualified volunteers and emphasis should definitely be put on this, and paying the volunteers for their time and expertise.

    • November 12, 2013 / 11:16 pm

      People are copy cats – invest the money in to supporting, encouraging and publicising breastfeeding. The more normalised it becomes, the more it’s seen as the ‘norm’ then the more people would be encouraged to do it.

  2. November 12, 2013 / 4:05 pm

    That posted sounded just like me! Love it!
    The government sucks.

  3. November 12, 2013 / 8:47 pm

    Why are they pushing for this? Is it because it genuinely helps their immune systems so will cost the NHS less in the long run?

    For mums who can’t breastfeed full stop – for example, mums who have had a mastectomy – where do they fit in with all this? I’ve always thought they should be given money for formula!

    Great post Rachel x

    • November 12, 2013 / 11:18 pm

      I honestly don’t know. It’s not going to work. It’s just another Government Scheme that was not thought through. There is no regulation so they don’t truly know if those mothers receiving the vouchers are telling the truth. They may as well throw wads of cash in a fire.

  4. November 12, 2013 / 8:47 pm

    It’s outrageous. I breastfed both my babies, because I wanted to and wanted the closeness of it. It’s been my personal decision and I hated to be bombarded with breast is best messages before I even had my first midwife appointment. The government is only preaching to the converted. Plus, health benefits of breastfeeding are much thinner than we are made to believe. (this is an interesting read: Plus plus: how on earth are they going to find out if you are really breastfeeding your child????

    • November 12, 2013 / 11:20 pm

      It’s truly absurd isn’t it! Surely it’s a woman’s right how they feed? If they want to encourage breastfeeding, then educate people and make it more ‘normal’ to do it in public – which I think is what puts a lot of people off.

  5. Leon
    November 25, 2014 / 11:41 am

    I’m gonna make some arguments in favour of the payments, but I don’t personally endorse them.
    Calling them ‘bribes’ I think is particularly interesting, they are merely incentives to promote an increase in breastfeeding. At a time where breastfeeding is low, whether some mothers can’t or not is understandably upsetting, but for the mothers that simply don’t this campaign is a very effective way in increasing that number.
    Incentives (‘bribes’) have worked with incredible effect helping people quit smoking and helping people with drug addiction. For example they increased cocaine abstinence fivefold. This saved a considerable amount of money, less people needed emergency care. I think if the incentives can show that they work for breastfeeding, although it will only be for some mothers, then why not use them? Breastfeeding is healthier it reduces the likelihood of infections etc, this can reduce the amount of money needed for emergency care.
    I do think its a difficult subject as some mothers cannot breastfeed, but for those who can, IF it significantly increases breastfeeding… why not!