The UK has one of the worst breastfeeding rates in the world and breastfeeding rates vary widely across different parts of the country,” said Clare Relton of Sheffield University. She may be part of the solution with a government pilot program giving 130 mothers shopping vouchers of significant value for breastfeeding their babies.
The pilot program is being run for lower income mothers to encourage breastfeeding. It’s estimated that a six-week-old baby born into an affluent family in Britain is four times more likely to be breastfed than one in a deprived area.
Clare feels it’s worthwhile to promote breastfeeding for the obvious health reasons. “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,” she added.
The UK pilot program
Around 130 mothers in Derbyshire, central England, and nearby South Yorkshire, will be offered shopping vouchers worth ?120 ($200, 140 euros) if they breastfeed for the first six weeks, rising to ?200 ($322, 230 euros) if they continue for six months.
It’s a pilot program to determine if financial incentives will help create more breastfeeding in the isle of low breastfeeding. If it seems to be a bit costly in the short term, perhaps the long term savings of less health problems among children as they grow older would be fruitful for Britain’s National Health Service.
Britain’s Health Service has been encouraging mothers to breastfeed for the first six months, but it’s estimated that only 34% of mothers in England actually do so. But there are some who doubt this program will have much if any success.
According to Janet Fyle, policy adviser to the Royal College of Midwives, the cultural problems underlying working class mothers goes beyond a quick fix.
Unlike poorer families in other countries, less financially able British families have little familiarity with breastfeeding in general. It hasn’t been as customary with the Brits as it generally is with Europeans. They are not as aware of it as the normal thing to do with a newborn, and some have difficulties getting their babies to nurse.
Due to the working class conditioning of having to get back to work sooner rather than later after giving childbirth, one simply defers to formulas and bottles that enable others to feed the recent family addition. And widespread infant formula advertising promotes bottle feeding as the normal thing to do.
“The motive for breastfeeding cannot be rooted by offering financial reward. It has to be something that a mother wants to do in the interest of the health and well-being of her child,” Jane Fyle asserted.
What’s good for the child is also beneficial for a breastfeeding mother
Many studies have proven that breastfed children have higher intelligence and suffer less from brain disorders than children who were bottle fed. Mothers’ first or early milk contains colostrum, which is rich with immune-boosting nutrients to protect the infant from disease.
Therefore, breastfeeding mothers should resist childhood vaccinations that damage the immune system both short and long term.
Then there is the bonding issue. Babies and mothers become closer through breastfeeding. But there are benefits for mothers’ health even after the child grows to adulthood.
For example, a Cambridge study surveyed women aged 80 to 100 and discovered that women who breastfed often had the lowest risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The only caveat for breastfeeding would be a mother’s toxicity levels. Planning in advance by determining heavy metal and pesticide toxicity and finding detox solutions while avoiding vaccinations would be a wise choice to create a healthy foundation for breastfeeding.
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