Psst, here’s a bribe to breastfeed


The contempt that lactivists evince for women who don’t mirror their own choices back to them beggars belief.

The latest example: an odious attempt to bribe women into breastfeeding.

According to the BBC:

Under the scheme mothers from specific parts of Sheffield and Chesterfield will be offered the vouchers, which they can then use in supermarkets and high street shops…

To qualify for the full £200 of rewards, the women will have to breastfeed until six months.

However, it will be frontloaded – enabling those taking part to get £120 for breastfeeding for the first six weeks.

Midwives and health visitors will be asked to verify whether the women are breastfeeding.

The team behind the project said breastfeeding was a cause of health inequalities, pointing to research that showed it helped prevent health problems such as upset stomachs and chest infections as well as leading to better educational attainment.

Dr Clare Relton, the Sheffield University expert leading the project, said she hoped the financial incentives would create a culture where breastfeeding was seen as the norm.


Breastfeeding is a cause of health inequalities? An increase in colds and upset stomachs qualifies as a health inequality?

Do lactivists believe the crap that they spout?

There is NO EVIDENCE, zero, zip, nada, that breastfeeding is a cause of health inequities. There is no remotely plausible reason to believe such nonsense. Breastfeeding has real benefits, but for term babies those benefits are so trivial as to be limited to a population wide minor decrease in infant colds and diarrheal illnesses.

Furthermore, we KNOW that breastfeeding tracks with the real causes of health inequities: race, socioeconomic status, and education levels. When those confounding variables are removed, breastfeeding term babies doesn’t seem to have much benefit at all.

Bribing women will create a culture where breastfeeding will be seen as the norm?

Earth to lactivists: if you have to bribe someone to do it, you are sending the exact OPPOSITE message. You are sending the message that it is difficult, expensive and distasteful. Otherwise you wouldn’t be offering bribes.

Most importantly, there is NO EVIDENCE that either carrots or sticks works to get women to breastfeed. To my knowledge, not a single program specifically designed to increase breasting rates has actually worked. Bribing women with food didn’t work. Banning gifts of formula samples won’t work, and neither will locking up formula in hospitals.

So if bribing women to breastfeed won’t increase breastfeeding rates, why are lactivists promoting it? It’s because it is yet another way for them to demonstrate their contempt for women who bottle feed. Apparently lactivists believe that these economically deprived women are so stupid and so uncaring that they can’t be motivated by “educating” them on the benefits of breastfeeding. Lactivists assume that poor women love money more than they love their babies and therefore money will do the trick.

What is particularly execrable is that lactivists figure that these women are so poor and so venal that they can be bribed with trivial amounts of money. Offering £ 200 for 6 months of breastfeeding works out to slightly more than a pound per day. That’s a bit more than $1.50 per day. Is that really an incentive? It’s less than the cost of formula per day. If the money were really an incentive, those women would be breastfeeding already.

It’s particularly infuriating that lactivists refuse to use the money to address the real reasons for low breastfeeding rates. Breastfeeding is difficult, painful and often inconvenient. But acknowledging the reality of breastfeeding, and helping women to cope with real breastfeeding difficulties would involve admitting the truth about breastfeeding. Lactivists would rather pretend that women who don’t breastfeed are stupid and capable of being bribed with trivial amounts of money than to admit that breastfeeding is anything other than perfect bliss.

So a £ 200 bribe is going to be wasted in a doomed attempt to increase breastfeeding rates. What’s even more galling is how many ways it the money could be better spent to improve the health of infant. How about spending the money to improve the quality of British maternity care overall? According to SkyNews:

Between April and September 2012, more than a quarter (28%) of maternity units were forced to close their doors to patients for at least half a day because of a lack of space or a shortage of midwives.

Of these units, 11% closed for the equivalent of a fortnight or more, the report found.

The result?

A fifth of maternity services funding is spent on insurance against malpractice, according to a review by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report found the NHS in England spent £482m on clinical negligence cover in the last year – the equivalent of £700 per birth.

The most common reasons for maternity claims are mistakes during labour or caesarean sections and errors resulting in cerebral palsy, the review said.

Public Accounts Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge said the figures were “absolutely scandalous”.

“The current system is not working as it should,” she said.

“The Department of Health needs to buck up and take responsibility for this.

“It needs to review its monitoring and reporting process to ensure that all relevant bodies can work effectively together to deliver maternity services that are value for money and fit for purpose.”

The British maternity system is in critical condition and babies are suffering and dying as a result. Diverting money from maternity care to bribe women to breastfeed isn’t just loathsome, it’s downright immoral.