A scheme offering new mums cash incentives to breastfeed their baby for six months has been extended across Derbyshire.
Women whose babies were born on or after February 18 will be offered shopping vouchers worth up to £120 if they breastfeed their child for up to six weeks and a further £80 if they continue to six months.
The vouchers are being offered as part of the Nourishing Start for Health trial being conducted by researchers at the universities of Sheffield, Dundee and Brunel.
The scheme was tested in Chesterfield in 2013 and has now been rolled out to cover a number of areas in north Derbyshire including Barrow Hill, Old Whittington and Pinxton.
Breastfeeding has a range of benefits for both mothers and babies and can help to prevent illnesses in children and also reduce costs to the National Health Service.
However, breastfeeding rates in the UK are among the lowest in the world.
Principal investigator Dr Clare Relton, from the University of Sheffield’s school of health and related research, said: “Lots of women want to breastfeed their babies – but breastfeeding takes effort and mums need to be supported.
“The feedback we received from mums in Chesterfield was that they felt that the scheme rewarded their efforts.
“This pioneering trial will help us find out if offering shopping vouchers for breastfeeding will support these mums in areas with low breastfeeding rates.”
Lottie Haigh, senior brand manager at Lansinoh, which helps mums breastfeed more successfully, welcomed the scheme.
She added: “We are conscious that for many mothers, this process will only work with the right support and education from midwives and health visitors.
“Therefore, we hope that this scheme will be partnered with helpful and practical advice to help guide and support mums through their own unique journey.”
Jaqcueline Bone, leader of the Derbyshire-branch of breastfeeding support group, La Leche League, said that more money should be given to supporting new mums.
“I don’t think financial incentives are ideal,” she said. “A lot of women think they can’t breastfeed or that they don’t have enough milk. The vast majority of times, this isn’t true. They often just don’t have the right information to do it successfully.”
To find out if they are eligible, mums should ask their midwife. A postcode checker for the scheme is available at www.noshvouchers.org