Early Years – Breastfeeding

Main Contact

Kim Penman
Senior Health Improvement Officer
01467 672838

About Work

Breastfeeding is the natural and healthiest way for a woman to feed her baby. The nutritional and health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby are well documented. Babies may be at less risk of allergic disease; juvenile onset diabetes; ear, chest gastrointestinal and urinary infections; and may have improved neurological development. Mothers also have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer (UNICEF 2008).

Breastfeeding rates in Aberdeenshire are higher than the national average.  Breastfeeding statistics until recently have been collected by the Grampian Infant Feeding Audit (GIFA).  In Summer 2010 NHS Grampian introduced the Child health surveillance System  – pre school, which replaced the Infant Feeding Audit. The most recent data from the Pre School Surveillance System indicates that current exclusive breastfeeding rates at 6-8 weeks are 30.5% for Aberdeenshire. However the rates vary across Aberdeenshire ranging from 18.1% in North Aberdeenshire, 31.6% in Central Aberdeenshire and 41.9% in South Aberdeenshire (21/6/2010 to 6/12/2010).

Between 2008 -11 Health Boards were set the HEAT 7 target: “Increase the proportion of new-born children exclusively breastfed at 6-8 weeks from 26.6% in 2006/07 to 33.3% in 2010/11“.  As Grampian has good breastfeeding rates NHS Grampian was set a further target for 41.2% of mothers to be breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks by 2010/11.

From April 2011 there will no longer be a national breastfeeding target.  However NHS Grampian has set a local target to achieve 46% of women exclusively breastfeeding at 6 weeks.

Click here for more information about the promotion and support of breastfeeding in Grampian.

Between 2008-11 the Scottish Government allocated funding to health boards under the directive CEL 36 – Nutrition of Women of Child Bearing Age, Pregnant Women and Children Under 5 in Disadvantaged Areas. This funding was allocated in part to support the delivery of the breastfeeding HEAT target. NHSG established an Infant and Maternal Nutrition cross system group to deliver the action required by the CEL 36. The range of initiatives/projects implemented in Aberdeenshire to deliver the CEL 36 requirements are described below.


  • Random Control Trial

A Randomised Control Trial to provide support to breastfeeding mums has been funded and commenced in spring 2010. The purpose of the research is to provide an intensive breastfeeding support service for mothers living in disadvantaged areas (SIMD 3, 4, 5). This will entail meeting the women and watching a feed on the postnatal ward and then providing proactive intensive telephone support for the first 2 weeks after birth, or longer if appropriate. The research compares the exclusive breastfeeding rates in the first 6 weeks between intervention and control postnatal wards and evaluate women’s experiences of breastfeeding care in the first 6 weeks.

  • UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) Breastfeeding Management Courses in 2010 /11

Aberdeenshire CHP is committed to the local delivery of the Maternal and Infant Nutrition (MIN) Framework launched by the Scottish Government in January 2011.  Part of this work includes the implementation of the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative in the Community.

A series of UNICEF Breastfeeding Management Training Two Day Courses are being run between August and November 2011.  This training is initially open to health visiting and midwifery staff and assistants.   The training will be delivered by Aberdeenshire’s Breastfeeding Key Workers who have received intensive training by UNICEF.   For more information please email mary.bellizzi@nhs.net

  • Healthy Start

Healthy Start is a national voucher programme providing pregnant women and low income families with vouchers that can be exchanged for any combination of milk, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and infant formula milk in registered shops. There is also an entitlement for vitamin supplements. Community Food Initiative North East (CFINE) was commissioned  to complete a series of focus groups to better understand local people’s experience of the scheme, to promote the scheme amongst key professionals and encourage use of the vouchers at CFINE’s Community Food Outlets. In Aberdeenshire, CFINNE are focusing the work mainly in Fraserbrugh, Peterhead and Huntly but will also include particular rural areas. More information on this programme can be found by clicking on this link.

  • Developing Practical Food Skills

Aberdeenshire CHP has been working with local communities to tackle food access issues and to promote healthy eating and nutrition. In Huntly partners have worked together to fund and establish a community training kitchen. The kitchen opened at the end of 2009 and has supported a wide range of vulnerable groups and families to develop practical food skills. This local experience has shown not only does the kitchen provide a means to promote healthy eating but also to tackle a broad of range of other health issues, health inequalities and to promote social cohesion.

The experiences and learning from Huntly are now being shared with other Aberdeenshire communities.  A community kitchen is currently being developed in Inverurie and a food and health programme is being put in place in Fraserburgh.

Maternal and Infant Nutrition (MIN) Framework / Action Plan 2011

The Maternal and Infant Nutrition (MIN) Framework was launched by the Scottish Government in January 2011. This provides national direction to steer local action that will build on the good practice and learning generated through the CEL 36 programme.

Aberdeenshire CHP is committed to local deliver of the MIN framework. It has already made the commitment to implement the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative in the Community.  Aberdeenshire’s Infant Feeding Co-ordinator will lead this work on behalf of the CHP.



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