£200 in vouchers to breast feed? Can that really change the culture surrounding breastfeeding?
I came to England when my brother was already a year old so didn't see my mother breast feed. Despite having never really seen anyone breastfeeding when I had my own child at 18 I didn't even contemplate bottle feeding. I had nothing against bottle feeding, I just believed that breast feeding was the better option for me for a few reasons. Firstly I wanted to build up her immunity, secondly I believed it to be healthy and thirdly it was cheap and most importantly I wanted to make sure I could bond easier with my baby. Admittedly these ideas of breastfeeding being healthier and helping you bond came from the books I was given at the time. I wanted to breastfeed but the pressure to was a lot so much so that when my daughter was to tired to feed when she was born and her first feed had to be a bottle, I cried. I felt I had done something wrong and that I was failing her. I've written about this before here.
That was the first and only bottle feed she had. Despite having felt under pressure I loved breastfeeding and the bond my daughter and I developed was wonderful. She's at that teen stage now so she spends a lot of time engrossed in some teen phenomenon or another, but when she does curl up next to me she gets so close that I can just about breath, I sometimes even say to her, "I think I breastfed for too long!"
I suppose by offering a financial incentive women might be more persuaded to give breastfeeding a try rather than feeling pressured to. I love that where I live they have breastfeeding groups and you're not made to feel like you're doing something alien when you openly breastfeed in playgroup. However there is still so much that needs to change in attitudes towards breastfeeding, making it seen as normal, beautiful rather than strangers staring or pointing fingers looking at you like you should go and hide in a toilet or a corner somewhere.
I breastfed openly both when I had my daughter and with my son because I had brilliant support from my mother and family. If more support is offered to help women feel confident breastfeeding then more women would probably do it.
So my question is would the money be better spent in breastfeeding support? Wouldn't it be better to make sure women have the information they need to make an informed decision?
Breastfeeding is a choice, it's a choice I'm glad I made.