Breastfeeding has multiple benefits for mother and baby. Helps reduce infant colic, regulates the metabolism of the newborn and protects them from serious diseases such as asthma or necrotising enterocolitis. In addition, it is key for the physical and neurological development of premature infants.
However, the rates of breastfeeding in many countries of the world do not reach what is recommended by the WHO, and among them the United Kingdom stands out. Therefore, the English Public Health Agency has launched an initiative to finance those mothers who choose to breastfeed their children: An effective or crazy measure?
Pay mothers for breastfeeding
According to a study carried out by UNICEF in 2016 and published by the Breastfeeding Committee of the ASP, 77% of English mothers choose to breastfeed when they give birth, but only 12% continue breastfeeding at two months in some areas of the country, and less than 1% do so beyond the five or six months of the baby’s life.
Breastfeeding is an excellent protective shield against multiple diseases. In fact, UNICEF has always highlighted the value of breast milk as one of the most effective and possible vaccines that babies can receive at birth.
Not in vain, the United Kingdom carried out a study three years ago, which was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, in which quantified the savings that would mean for the English health system that children fed for longer with breast milk and the figures were illuminating: the English National Health System could save up to 40 million pounds a year (more than 45 million euros) if it encouraged breastfeeding.
Aware of the seriousness of the situation, the United Kingdom has proposed raising the rate of breastfeeding and the English public health agency has promoted a funding system for those mothers who choose to breastfeed their children.That is, whoever opts for breastfeeding will receive a check as an economic recommendation.
In the counties of South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire have been offered checks of 120 pounds (approximately 136 euros) to those who prove to have nursed their babies two days, ten days and six weeks of life. And for mothers who arrive after six months of breastfeeding, an extra check of 80 pounds (90 euros) is offered.
How is the measure working?
As reported by the newspaper El Confidencial, from the School of Public Health of the University of Sheffield are satisfied with the measure since it is encouraging mothers to breastfeed, and the economic reward makes them not give up sooner than they would like.
In addition, many mothers who join their jobs and find it difficult to continue breastfeeding their children, claim that this check is an extra motivation to keep trying.
On the other hand it has been calculated that thanks to this measure, the English public health system saves a minimum of 19 million euros, as breast milk is a protective shield against some diseases in the short and long term.
What if this measure were implemented in Spain?
According to the national health surveys that have been conducted in our country since 1995, the rates of breastfeeding at six weeks of life of the baby are around 71% , and in the last 15 years there has been an increase progressive of the figures at three months (33%) and six months of life (47%).
But only 28.5% of mothers opt for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, a figure that, although very similar to other European countries, is far from the recommendations of WHO.
Among the main obstacles encountered by women in our country to breastfeed their children would be, mainly two:
- On the one hand, the lack of help from health professionals when a problem arises and while most insist and encourage mothers to choose breastfeeding, few of them are really ready to help in the face of difficulties.
Fortunately, many mothers have discovered the great work that breastfeeding groups and advisors do and find in them the help they seek when doubts or problems arise.
- On the other hand, it makes no sense for WHO, UNICEF, the AEP and even the Ministry of Health to recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months, and to offer women a maternity leave of only 16 weeks.
It is true that work and breastfeeding do not have to be incompatible. Many women struggle to continue breastfeeding their children beyond sick leave and Babies and More we have echoed great stories of improvement and effort that have allowed prolonged breastfeeding when everything seemed to be against.
But, unfortunately, we still find companies that put many obstacles in the way of women being able to get their milk at work or take advantage of their rights as breastfeeding mothers, even though breastfeeding benefits companies by reducing absenteeism.
However, after analyzing these two great difficulties that mothers usually encounter during breastfeeding, I wonder: would the situation change if they received a check for breastfeeding?
In my particular case, two of my three lactations ended when my children wanted to, but the first ended because of my decision. I felt desborada, without support and with a great lack of information and, at least for me, a money check would not have changed things.
And you, what opinion does this measure give you from the English health authorities? Would it have changed your decision to breastfeed your babies-or to do so for longer-if you had received money for it?