Mums in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire to receive shopping vouchers for breastfeeding their babies

Mothers across South Yorkshire in North Derbyshire are to be paid in shopping vouchers to breastfeed their babies.

Women in areas of the region where breastfeeding remains low will be offered shopping vouchers as part of the Nourishing Start for Health scheme conducted by Sheffield University researchers.

Principal investigator Dr Clare Relton, from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research

Principal investigator Dr Clare Relton, from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research

Mums will receive £120 of vouchers if they breastfeed their baby for up to six weeks as part of the large-scale trial and a further £80 if they continue breastfeeding to six months.

Researchers in Sheffield, along with others from the universities of Dundee and Brunel in West London, will examine whether or not uptake rates will increase if mothers are offered financial incentives.

The trial builds on a initial study last year when more than 100 women across Maltby, Chesterfield and Manor in Sheffield were offered vouchers.

More than half of them signed up, with almost two thirds claiming vouchers for breastfeeding their baby at six to eight weeks.

Principal investigator Dr Clare Relton, from Sheffield University’s school of health and related research, said: “For several decades now, the majority of babies in the UK have not been getting enough breast milk, and despite many efforts, this situation has not improved.

“Now we need to conduct the full trial to find out if offering vouchers for breastfeeding can significantly increase our low breastfeeding rates and be a cost effective use of UK public funds.

“Last year, there was a lot of controversy about the scheme and we didn’t know if it would be acceptable, so we have been delighted to see how enthusiastic local mothers and healthcare professionals have been.”

If more women breastfeed for longer, it could save the NHS more than £17 million every year.