Breastfeeding in Scotland

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Breastfeeding statistics in Scotland

The 2017 Scottish Maternal and Infant Nutrition Survey highlights the positive impact that Baby Friendly practices are having on infant feeding in Scotland, particularly on breastfeeding rates at six months. Key findings include:

  • At six months 43% of infants in the survey were receiving any breastmilk, compared to 32% in the 2010 infant feeding survey
  • At six weeks 55% of infants in the survey were receiving any breastmilk, compared to 50% in the 2010 infant feeding survey
  • 89% of mothers who experienced problems with breastfeeding indicated that they received help with or information on these
  • 86% of all mothers and babies have skin-to-skin contact at birth (93% of vaginal births and 73% caesarean sections).

Read more about the survey.

In addition to this survey, breastfeeding rates in Scotland are monitored and published annually by NHS National Services Scotland. The latest breastfeeding statistics annual publication is available online.

Information is collected at routine child health reviews at around 10 days and 6-8 weeks of age. Statistics are presented by NHS Board of Review, Council Area and Community Health Partnership, and also by maternal age, deprivation and smoking status.

Further information about maternity care in Scotland can be found in Scotland’s Maternity care survey. It is encouraging, for example, that 96% of women were positive about understanding information and explanations they were given in the antenatal period, around four in five women felt their decisions about how to feed their baby were always respected by staff, and three in five women reported they always received active support and encouragement from health professionals about feeding their baby.

Breastfeeding policy in Scotland

Improving Maternal and Infant Nutrition: A Framework for Action was published to improve the nutrition of pregnant women, babies and young children. It supports and promotes the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of a healthy diet throughout early childhood.

As part of Improving Maternal and Infant Nutrition: A Framework for Action, NHS boards are required to detail how they are implementing the framework, including specific areas of work around antenatal education, postnatal breastfeeding support and accredited breastfeeding peer support.

The framework requires that all maternity units and 80 per cent of community health partnerships in Scotland achieve Baby Friendly accreditation. The Scottish Government has funded a Professional Officer and has provided financial support to assist boards with the accreditation process, and this requirement has now been met.

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Breastfeeding in Northern Ireland

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