Child and Maternal Health

Mapping a Healthy Start in Life – The Scottish Maternal and Infant Nutrition Survey

March 9, 2018 by No Comments | Category Best Start, breastfeeding, Maternity, Nutrition, statistics

In June 2015, the Scottish Government announced its intention to carry out the first Scottish Maternal and Infant Nutrition Survey (MINS) in response to the cancellation of the previous UK-wide Infant Feeding Survey (IFS).

The first Maternal and Infant Nutrition Survey was published on 21 February. The information collected in this survey is not currently collected through universal data sources and the findings provide valuable insight into maternal nutrition (both preconception and in pregnancy), breastfeeding, infant feeding and wider health behaviours. This will assist in our understanding of parents feeding choices and about their experiences and reactions to early feeding support and information.

Some key findings:

  • Just over half of respondents (53%) reported taking folic acid prior to becoming pregnant. An additional third (37%) reported starting to take folic acid as soon as they knew they were pregnant.
  • Most respondents (88%) said they had not consumed any alcohol since they realised they were pregnant.
  • The majority of respondents (86%) reported that they had skin-to-skin contact with their baby within an hour of birth. However, this varied with method of delivery (normal vaginal delivery 93%; caesarean 73%).
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents (74%) reported that they had intended to give breast milk to their baby (either by exclusively breast feeding (42%), combining breast feeding with expressing milk (18%), combining breast milk with formula feeding (14%) or expressing milk only (0.5%)).
  • More than two-thirds of all respondents (69%) were giving breast milk to their baby when they left hospital / the maternity unit.
  • Less than two-thirds of respondents were aware of the Healthy Start Scheme (61% of antenatal respondents; 64% of 8-12 month respondents).
  • The survey also found many infants are being introduced to complementary foods later – 46% by at least six months – in a trend that has continued since 2010, which is an important development for helping prevent obesity.


Findings from this MINS showed that 43% of mums are continuing to breastfeed up to six months after birth, compared to 32% in 2010. This follows a number of Scottish Government programmes aimed at encouraging breastfeeding. Feeding advice can be found on the FeedGood website:

We have a strong focus on promoting, supporting and maintaining breastfeeding in the early days and beyond demonstrated recently by our commitment in the Programme for Government 2017 “to increase resources for breastfeeding to support mothers, particularly in the days immediately following birth, and supporting the maternal and infant nutrition framework.”

The MINS states around a quarter of respondents who had stopped breastfeeding/expressing milk thought that access to certain types of support would have helped and encouraged them to breastfeed/express milk for longer. The Best Start: A Five Year Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland  recommends a new model of continuity of carer throughout pregnancy, community hubs and enhanced community care which will provide an environment to support breastfeeding.  Community-based care will include a role for support staff to assist midwives in the provision of baby care, including breastfeeding support and parenting skills, along with care and support for women who formula feed.

To find out more the full MINS survey and associated documents are available at

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