A plan to pay Sheffield mums to breastfeed their babies has caused a rift between those who can feed their babies naturally and those who cannot.
Vouchers for Matalan, John Lewis or Mothercare – as well as supermarkets – will be dished out to mums who opt to breastfeed as part of a pilot scheme run by Sheffield University researchers who are examining ways to boost low rates of breastfeeding.
Mothers will be given vouchers worth up to £120 if their babies receive breast milk until they are six weeks old and a further £80 if their babies continue to be breastfed until they are six months.
The scheme will involve 130 women, from Manor in Sheffield, as well as parts of Chesterfield.
Dr Clare Relton, from the university’s School of Health and Related Research, said: “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.
“The scheme offers vouchers to mothers who breastfeed to acknowledge both the value of breastfeeding to babies, mothers and society, and the effort involved.”
However, the move has caused a rift between mums in South Yorkshire, with a number unable to breastfeed claiming the scheme discriminates against those unable to feed naturally.
Laura Ross, aged 32, of Woodseats, Sheffield, who breastfeeds nine-month-old son Rafferty, said: “Anything that encourages people to breastfeed and raises the profile of it is a good thing, but the money could be spent on outreach workers supporting mums after they leave hospital.”
A breast-reduction operation before nine-month-old Iris was born left Sarah Blanchard, 30, of Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, unable to feed her daughter naturally.
She said: “People already make you feel like you have given up or failed when you are unable to breastfeed, so to see mothers rewarded will only make you feel worse.”
Lily Cameron, 25, from Walkley, who has breastfed daughter Jasmine for two-and-a-half years, said: “Perhaps the money should go into support, so people get help they need and information to help them make an informed decision as to what they want to do.”
Do you agree with mums being paid to breastfeed?
Sarah Blanchard, 30, of Abbeydale Road, Sheffield
“I had a breast reduction a number of years ago and despite wanting to breastfeed and trying I was unable to, so I find this unfair.”
Lily Cameron, 25,of Walkley, Sheffield
“My worry is that we are potentially de-valuing breastfeeding if we are saying that people have to be paid to do it.”
Student Arnold Muniga, aged 21, of Sheffield
“I think it’s a great idea. If it encourages more women to breastfeed rather than bottle feed, it can only be a good thing. It’s far healthier.”
Really stupid. Felt under enough pressure to breastfeed my daughter without feeling I would be losing out financially too. That’s going to cause a lot of upset for women like me who can’t breastfeed for one reason or another.
“Use the money for a 24-hour support line to support breastfeeding mothers so they have got someone to turn to.”
“What about poor mothers who can’t breastfeed – they are going to be under more pressure and in return post-natal depression rates will probably increase.”
“What next? Being paid to get up in the morning? The world has gone mad. “How about getting paid for working? “Why bother when you can just get pregnant and get paid for it.”
“Why should anybody be paid for what comes naturally, and some people can’t breastfeed - where does it leave these mothers? Shamefully discriminating.”
“I breastfed my child and I did it for the health of my child. “It’s ridiculous paying mums to feed their child. They will then be doing it for all the wrong reasons. “A waste of money. There are better things to spend our money on.”
Barbara Impey, 78, of Langsett, Sheffield “I couldn’t feed my son and it never did him harm and he’s 50 now, but it’s supposed to be healthier so it’s a good thing to encourage people to do so.”
Denise Fletcher, aged 60, of Ecclesfield, Sheffield
“My daughter is expecting and my niece gave birth yesterday. I’m pleased they will both be trying to breastfeed, it is a rewarding feeling.”