Two areas in Britain have started a program to try and encourage new moms to breastfeed and those who take part in the program will be rewarded with shopping vouchers.
Officials in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire have launched a pilot program in low-income areas where the practice has been "stigmatized" to see if financial incentives help boost breastfeeding rates, according to MSN. The new moms in those areas who take part in the program will receive $200 shopping vouchers if they breastfeed for the first six weeks and the total will go up to $320 if they continue to breastfeed for six months.
The program aims to establish whether financial incentives can boost a practice believed to bring significant health benefits to newborn babies, reported France24.com, which noted that some 130 women will take part.
"The UK has one of the worst breastfeeding rates in the world and breastfeeding rates vary very widely across different parts of the country," said Clare Relton of Sheffield University, which is running the pilot in collaboration with the government.
Relton also noted that breastfeeding is "stigmatized" in parts of Britain, including through advertising for formula milk that can make it seem a less attractive option.
"Babies who are breastfed have fewer health problems such as upset tummies and chest infections, and are less likely to develop diabetes and obesity when they are older."
However, a policy advisor to the Royal College of Midwives said the reluctance to breastfeed amongst some mothers was a deeper cultural issue that would not easily be solved with shopping vouchers.
"In many areas, including those in this study, there are generations of women who may not have seen anyone breastfeeding their baby, meaning it is not the cultural norm in many communities," Janet Fyle stated.