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Have vouchers for breastfeeding trials been a success

Have breastfeeding trials been a success
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When the government first announced its ‘Vouchers for Breastfeeding’ scheme there was mixed reaction. The trial scheme was introduced in order to address lower rates of breastfeeding in more deprived areas of the UK. Initially, Mums in three different areas of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire were offered shopping vouchers, valued up to a total of £200 if they successfully breastfed for a six month period. Vouchers of £40 were awarded on a staged basis after two days, ten days, six weeks, three months, and six months for any of the trial Mums who sustained breastfeeding for these periods.

The Trials

Under the first trials of the scheme 108 women were offered the opportunity to sign up. 58 did so, 37 of these breastfed for between 6 and 8 weeks, earning their three promised vouchers for this period. Despite the data from the three and six month checkpoints still being collated, the success of the take-up of vouchers from birth to the 6-8 week benchmark has already prompted the government to announce a larger trial that could involve up to 4000 Mums.

Additional Benefits

Have breastfeeding trials been a successThose who criticised the scheme said that it amounted to bribery on the part of the government. But, supporters argued that ends more than justified the means. Feedback from some of the Mums who have benefited from the scheme would seem to support this.

Many reported feeling that their self-esteem has been boosted by breastfeeding via the scheme, where they may not have opted to before. They also praise the support network that is built up around the scheme, with Mums sharing experiences and advice with each other. The extra cash also came in very handy, making the Mums involved feel like they were making a positive contribution to their family in more ways than one.

Concerns

As well as the accusation of bribery, opponents argue that the scheme is unfair. Not all Mums are able to breastfeed; in these cases the use of formula feed is not a choice, making it unfair to exclude them from the possibility of benefiting from the vouchers.

The study has so far also failed to draw any conclusions in respect of the wider circumstances of the Mums involved – for example, was breastfeeding for vouchers more successful for Mums of a certain age group, with or without family support, or those with a particular medical history.

Clearly all such trials have their limitations. The government obviously believes that the wider benefits to Mum and baby of breastfeeding for even a short period of time is worth the investment. It has also been suggested that in the end, a higher rate of breastfeeding in the UK will save the NHS money, the scheme also appears to have good support from midwives too.

It will be interesting to see how the wider trial goes, whether public opinion on the matter shifts in favour of the scheme, or against it. What do you think?

 

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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