Pregnant UK Women Get Cash For Food

pregnantwithcarrotsIn a move that I suspect will seem very strange indeed to Americans who still fantastise about the state providing basic health care, the UK government plans to provide cash grants of £120 (around $240) for every pregnant women to buy fruit and vegetables.  This will be given out along with nutritional advice at 7 months gestation.  Hmm… It’s certainly good to see something being given to pregnant women other than yet more lists of what to worry about, and yet more criticisms of everything they do.  But I do wonder if giving all women this small food grant (which can in fact be used for anything) is the best way to help really low-income women, who are the ones most in need.  On the other hand, people tend to resent means-tested benefits much more than universal ones.  Also, I can’t help but wonder if 7 months in is a little late to start helping.  I’d love to hear what others think.

7 thoughts on “Pregnant UK Women Get Cash For Food

  1. I think 7 months is definitely too late. I also question that it’s only for pregnant women. What happens when she gives birth? That aspect reinforces the idea that we care more about potential life than actual life.

    I like that it’s universal, but this seems very much like a band aid solution to a very deep-seated problem – that basic nutrition is too expensive for a great number of people.

  2. I just wrote about pregnancy and food.

    On the one hand: free food! On the other: yet another sign that the general consensus is that a woman can’t be trusted to do something as simple as feed herself.

  3. Yeah, I’m similarly conflicted. I’m all for supporting pregnant women, but I’m also for supporting MOTHERS. I also dislike the idea of focusing on pregnant women over what happens after the baby is born.

    And yes, 7 months sounds way too late to me. I’d say, I don’t know, maybe the second or third month would be more appropriate?

  4. In England in 1972, in my experience, care for mother and child was pretty thorough and perhaps even overwhelming. We certainly had free home help, if needed, and I think food, vitamins, etc, were offered. In addition, one had a local clinic that one had to show up at. Though I didn’t miss a session, I think those who did had the local health people at their doorstep.

    I tried googling to see if this sort of service is still provided. Certainly, Sicko has made it seemed that national health care would include such thing.

    I gave up, however, at the story of the rat infants in space who suffered some tragic loss, possibly even decimation. Clearly, I hadn’t begun to find the right search terms.

  5. JJ is right to note that pregnant women *and* mothers get a lot more support in the UK than the US (though not as much as in her day– thank you Margaret Thatcher!). And this is important to understanding the current move. So here are a few important bits. All pregnant women get assigned a midwife at I think around 10-12 weeks. They see this midwife regularly, and increasingly frequently through the pregnancy. Mostly visits are at the GPs, but some are lucky enough to live in areas with home visits. This is all free, as is all medical care. Pregnant women get all prescriptions free (normally one pays around £6-7 per prescription), and continue to get free prescriptions for a year after the baby is born. They also get free dental care through pregnancy and for a year after. (Most people, I think, pay for dental care, though *much* less than in the US.) All parents get a child benefit of £12-18 pounds ($24-$36) per child per week until the child is 16. After a child is born, parents receive frequent visits from a midwife to give advice for the first month. For the next year or so (not sure of exact timing) they get less frequent visits from the health visitor. After that, they can arrange health visitor visits as needed. I believe it’s also common for GPs to run health visitor drop-in clinics where parents can stop by for advice. There are also lots of other extra bits, at least in some places: free baby first aid classes for all parents and expecting parents, free breastfeeding clinics, lots of free praent/baby groups, often run by a health visitor. All totally stunning from an American point of view, though much less than one gets in other European countries. A little off topic, but still interesting: one prescription that’s free for *all* women is birth control. I almost fainted when I learned that one.

  6. Veronica– Yes, it is truly amazing the way everyone feels a right to comment on what you eat, drink, etc when pregnant!

Comments are closed.