‘£200 may encourage Sunderland mum’s to breastfeed, but support is what’s really needed’ – health experts

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A SUNDERLAND midwife said mums need support and not just cash incentives to get them to breastfeed.

A pilot scheme is being introduced in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire where new mothers will be offered up to £200 in vouchers if they breastfeed.

If successful, the scheme could be rolled out nationwide.

But Gillian Lund, a public health midwife and breastfeeding co-ordinator at Sunderland Royal Hospital, believes mothers need support more than vouchers.

She said: “Standalone it wouldn’t work, but it could be used along with increased access to support which will help women become more willing to breastfeed.

“The most important thing is to give women face-to-face contact with trained staff.

“The key is getting more staff so women can get help at the right time.”

Under the initiative, mothers taking part will be rewarded with £120 of vouchers if they are breastfeeding their child at six weeks old.

In order to receive the full £200 they must breastfeed until six months. This will be verified by midwives and health visitors.

The incentives are to be funded through the government and medical research sector.

Gillian added: “It will be interesting to find out how successful it is. It shouldn’t be too expensive and it should reduce hospital admissions.

“It would also help mothers save money on buying formula milk, which can cost up to £600 a year.

“I’ve had texts saying it’s a bribe but I don’t think it is. We need to try other things.”

The areas being used for the trial have been chosen due to their low breastfeeding rates, the average being just one in four at six weeks of age whereas the national average is around 55 per cent.

Gillian says the average in Sunderland is 55-60 per cent and has risen considerably over the years.

“When I started four years ago, the average was about 40 per cent so we’ve definitely seen more women start to do it. Women in Sunderland get additional support and we train midwives and doctors to help them.

She also says a cultural shift will be needed for women to become more open to breastfeeding. “We need to make it more visible, it’s about normalising it.”