I don’t often read the news because it’s usually a combination of celebrity gossip and depressing stuff, but this afternoon an article on Yahoo News caught my eye. The headline read “Pay Pregnant Smokers £10 A Week To Quit“. The article suggests that “pregnant women who give up smoking should be given a £10-a-week “reward”, according to a political think tank.”
You would think that not harming their unborn child with their bad habit would be reward enough.
If ever there was a good time and reason to stop smoking, it’s because you’re pregnant and want what’s best for your child. I know not everyone can manage it, but surely all pregnant smokers should at least want to try, and not just because of a cash “reward”.
How about a reward for all those pregnant ladies who already don’t smoke?
Let’s take it further.
There are already schemes in some parts of the country that reward parents for making the environmentally ethical choice when it comes to nappies by reimbursing part of the cost of cloth nappies, which is great, but how about rewarding Mums who breastfeed? At the moment it’s all back to front with vouchers to go towards formula when surely it makes financial, medical and common sense to encourage breastfeeding over formula feeding?
I know there are some women who cannot or choose not to breastfeed their babies and that is entirely up to them – I do not refute their right to choose – but from a government point of view, are they really doing enough to promote breastfeeding?
During “breastfeeding week” an advert is broadcast in Scotland about breastfeeding, but you never see it the rest of the year. It’s a shame that breastfeeding needs a national awareness week when it’s something that should really be the norm, after all human beings are mammals – mammals have mammary glands with which to feed their young. That is the true primary function of the female breast. Sexual pleasure is a mere secondary consideration and it’s only the western so-called civilisations that have sexualized the female breast to the point where it is seen as obscene to show them in public. Not that I’m advocating just “whipping them out” when you’re walking down the street, but feeding a baby or toddler is completely different and is completely non-sexual – there is no comparison. A nursing mother’s intention is not exhibitionism, it is the nourishment, comfort and wellbeing of her child that is foremost in her mind and you can bet she’s trying to flash as little of her post-pregnancy flesh as she can manage!
Anyway, to go back to the point I was originally trying to make – there are far better ways for the government to spend money when it comes to pregnancy and motherhood.
They should be channeling it into getting accurate information and proper support to all mothers and making sure that all health practitioners are on the same page, so that the quality of care and information isn’t wildly different depending on which person you happen to see.
It should be channelled into setting up milk banks for premature babies (I would gladly have donated milk form my over-productive boobies when I was nursing Xan, but the closest milk bank to Aberdeen is in Glasgow and they do not collect this far north).
It should be channelled into educating mothers from all walks of life on just how capable they are and what their bodies are capable of doing (really, many would be amazed to discover it’s a very low percentage of women who are genetically predisposed to not producing enough breast milk to nourish their babies, but poor support and inaccurate information which undermines the efforts of a nursing mum result in declining milk production!).
And finally, it should be put towards educating the public to the fact that when it comes to feeding your baby, breast really is best, so anyone who sees a nursing mum should be thinking “Good on you!” rather than harassing her and making her feel uncomfortable.
£10 a week to reward smoking mums for quitting? Come off it! What will happen is you’ll get chancers saying they smoke (or even starting to smoke!) in order to get an extra tenner off the government.
Is that really what we want or need?