I couldn't believe when I heard the news out of the UK--a new program backed by Sheffield University is actually bribing new moms to breastfeed their babies. It works like this--if you breastfeed for the first six weeks, you get 120 British pounds (roughly $190) worth of store credit at supermarkets and popular stores, and if you continue breastfeeding up to six months, you get an additional 80 pounds ($127) worth. I know a lot of you will disagree with me, but this is one of the worst healthy mom/healthy baby ideas I've heard in a while.
Nobody's denying the benefits of breastfeeding are great, and that we need to educate more moms on those takeaways. But we do need to acknowledge that not all women can breastfeed. According to Time, "Dr. Amy Evans, a pediatrician and medical director of the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine in Fresno, CA, says that as many as five percent of all women have underlying medical conditions that prevent or seriously hinder lactation." Five percent--that's five in a hundred. One in twenty. Think of how many moms on your Facebook feed or in the local mommy group that would be. Add to that all the moms whose workplaces make it nearly impossible to continue breastfeeding after a certain amount of time, and those whose babies have food allergies making breastfeeding incredibly difficult, and you've got quite a few moms who, due to no fault of their own, can't breastfeed.
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We need to stop punishing those moms (sorry, no store vouchers for you!) and start trusting women to do what's best for their families in their own unique situations. The saying "breast is best" is only true when it's possible and practical for the mom and her family. It's one thing to invest time and money in helping women learn how to properly breastfeed (a service that's severely lacking for the vast majority of moms), and a completely different thing to villainize those who go a different route. I've seriously had it with misguided advocates who essentially liken formula-feeding to child abuse—who do they think they are, judging other moms without knowing their lives?! (Besides, I know tons of healthy, happy, smart, educated, and successful adults who were exclusively formula-fed . . . so even if formula's not the best, it can't be that bad, can it?!)
Here's my recommendation: Instead of bribing moms to breastfeed, try spending that money on more education and lactation support. I think we'd see the numbers of breastfed babies going up (for the right reasons!) and we'd avoid slamming a lot of moms who are just doing the best they can for their little ones.
TELL US: Do you buy into this program, or do you think it's crazy to pay moms to breastfeed?
Image of woman trying to breastfeed via Shutterstock.