The idiot parade that is the Tory government has come up with yet another stupid and obnoxious idea. I'm not surprised but I am particularly offended. Here's the story.
In order to encourage breastfeeding, they're running a pilot scheme in relatively poor areas, whereby new mothers are given £200 in shopping vouchers if they breastfeed. Their feeding status is confirmed by the midwives and the health visitor (the community nurse dedicated to caring for and monitoring progress of local babies from birth to five years old).
Let's run through the issues with this, shall we?
-The assumption that women are so stupid that sending them shopping will influence a decision so personal shows the stupidity and total cluelessness of this Conservative government. If these women were interested in saving money, they would be breastfeeding anyway.
-We generally have decent maternity coverage in the UK and have the right to take up to a year, with some degree of statutory pay for most of that, but still many women go back to work early. Why not look at improving the statutory maternity benefits for people who use those rather than company plans. Why not look at credits for breast pumps or storage supplies, since those add up? The reason is that this isn't about money. This is about "ladies love shoppinggggggggg" idiocy.
-Many women struggle to breastfeed for many reasons. These can be down to difficult labours, preterm babies, C-sections, medications, post-natal depression, and many other reasons. This does absolutely nothing to address those issues, almost all of which can eventually be overcome with the right care and support, but women often give up because they don't know where to turn.
-The previous generation was force fed formula marketing and social cues stating that breastfeeding is abnormal somehow. This is largely going away among the middle class, but among the working class, breastfeeding rates are still very low. This scheme does absolutely nothing to address that, which could be helped with education and community support.
-Most hospitals have a lactation counsellor, but most don't have quite enough to go around and many women go private to get that support. Who can afford private care? Primarily the middle and upper class, who could not give two shits about £200 in vouchers. Improved lactation support in NHS hospitals is necessary if this government truly wants to improve support.
Basically, this is only going to pay people who can breastfeed and who would be doing so anyway. It reduces and dismisses the many reasons that a woman may choose to not breastfeed down to frivolity and in no way makes any attempt to address the reasons for not breastfeeding This will do nothing to increase breastfeeding rates and treats women like breeding stock udder machines. Great work, Tories.