Maternity Services Report

Our report investigates the experiences of mothers feeding their new-born babies and smoking during pregnancy.

The commissioners of maternity services for North Durham and Durham, Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) approached Healthwatch County Durham to assist them in carrying out some research into two key performance indicators for maternity services, using the analysis in NHS RightCare Commissioning for Value Focus Pack Maternity and early years - May 2016. These indicators were:

  • Breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks (%)
  • Women smoking at time of delivery (per 100 maternities)

What did people tell us?

On smoking in pregnancy:

  • 82% of respondents said that their home was smoke free. When speaking to women it was apparent that smoke free, does not necessarily mean that no one smokes in the home, it could mean that smokers chose to do so, outside of the house, therefore acknowledging that smoking does carry health implications.
  • 59% smoked under ten cigarettes a day and 29% under twenty with no one smoking over thirty a day. The rising cost of cigarettes was attributed to the lower level of smoking.
  • 49% of women had smoked while pregnant and, while 48% had successfully stopped smoking 36% had unsuccessfully tried to stop, with almost one quarter of women using nicotine replacement methods to reduce their levels of smoking.
  • The vast majority of women told their midwives that they smoked and how many cigarettes they smoked per day (89%). It is reassuring to learn that 97% of women felt that the information provided to them on the effects of smoking on their unborn baby was helpful and easy to understand. 67% felt that they were given the support they needed to stop smoking, however of those who were referred to the stopping smoking scheme, 50% did not attend their appointment – 40% said that it was because they did not want to go.

On feeding newborns:

  • 83% of mothers were encouraged by their midwife or healthcare professional to breastfeed and 82% felt supported in their feeding choices.
  • In terms of the choices made by women, on how to feed their babies, 62% exclusively breastfed their babies and 50% formula fed their babies – this includes breastfeeding mothers who chose to introduce formula at some point during the baby’s first year. The reasons for this included, returning to work, wanting help from a partner/family member with feeding, and as part of the weaning process.

Health professionals should be open to all ways of feeding


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