In an effort to boost breastfeeding, new mothers are being offered money to nurse their babies in Britain. Yep, cold hard cash for putting an infant to their breast. Does it sound ridiculous to you? It did to me at first. Seriously? Paying women to breastfeed? It just seems so ... unnatural. But when I thought about it for a minute or two, I realized: If anything is going to get moms who are on the fence about whether or not to breastfeed, it's cashola. Money talks. Even to tatas.
The program is being introduced in two "deprived" areas of England, the country with the worst breastfeeding rates. It will offer new mothers shopping vouchers for grocery stores and other shops for $200 if they breastfeed for six weeks, and vouchers for $320 if they continue for six months. The program will be policed via having midwives check in with mothers to confirm that they are in fact nursing.
However, not everyone agrees with this tactic to boost breastfeeding rates. Janet Fyle, policy advisor to the Royal College of Midwives, said: "The motive for breastfeeding cannot be rooted by offering financial reward. It has to be something that a mother wants to do in the interest of the health and well-being of her child." And while I agree with Fyle's statement when it pertains to most situations, I think offering low-income families vouchers actually would get them to breastfeed. Maybe more so than educating them on the benefits of nursing. I also think that once they've hit that six-week mark, barring no complications have arisen, the odds of them making it to six months is pretty good. By six weeks, moms typically have their routine down pat, and their nipples don't feel like they're on fire every time baby latches on. It's the little things.
This is a new program, so we'll have to wait and see how it pans out. But my money (heh) is on that it does. What's a bigger incentive to people than cash? There's a reason people have been doing it in business for years to boost employee productivity -- it works! Why wouldn't it with nursing?
If the initiative winds up doing exactly what it's intended to do -- get more moms to breastfeed -- it will be rolled out nationally next year. And then who knows? Maybe we'll see more mums in England breastfeeding their babies -- even without the cash incentive. It has to start somewhere, right?
Do you think money would incentivize women to breastfeed?
Image via Mothering Touch/Flickr