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Implementing the Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly initiative in Scotland

McFadden, Alison, Kendall, Sally, Eida, Tamsyn J. (2023) Implementing the Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly initiative in Scotland. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 19 (S1). ISSN 1740-8709. (doi:10.1111/mcn.13304) (KAR id:98254)

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Despite strong policy support in Scotland, United Kingdom, key challenges to scaling up promotion, protection and support for breastfeeding remain. These include low breastfeeding rates and socioeconomic and regional inequalities. The Becoming Breastfeeding-Friendly (BBF) process was implemented to highlight actions that could address these challenges. The Scottish BBF committee employed an iterative process of documentary analysis and evidence reviews supplemented by 18 interviews with key informants. The data were mapped to BBF benchmarks and each gear was scored accordingly. Nineteen draft recommendations addressing policy and practice gaps were prioritised. Ten recommendations were grouped into eight themes, which cross-cut the BBF gears. The process took place from May 2018 to May 2019. The overall BBF Index score for Scotland was 2.4 indicating a strong scaling-up environment for breastfeeding. Five gears were assessed as strong gear strength, and the remaining three were judged as moderate gear strength. Three recommendation themes illuminate strengths and areas for development. The theme ‘reinforcing political will’ showed effective leadership, strong policies and significant investment in supporting breastfeeding and highlights actions to sustain this. The theme ‘strengthening and coordinating breastfeeding messages’ revealed a need for coordination between government, health services and the third sector. The theme ‘promoting a supportive return to work environment’ highlighted that, while employment legislation is not devolved to the Scottish government, action could be taken by employers to optimise an enabling environment for breastfeeding. The BBF process identified strengths and triggered actions to enhance breastfeeding promotion, protection and support in Scotland.

Key Messages

- Scotland has a strong scaling-up environment for the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding as assessed by the Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly process;

- The BBF process is a helpful tool that led to specific recommendations that together have the potential to improve the rates and experiences of breastfeeding in Scotland;

- Scotland has a strong political commitment to breastfeeding evidenced by effective leadership, strong policies and significant investment and this needs to be sustained;

- Further co-ordination of breastfeeding activities and messages between government, health services and the third sector is needed;

- A supportive environment of breastfeeding women returning to work could be enhanced through employer guidelines and increasing women's awareness of their rights.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/mcn.13304
Uncontrolled keywords: Breastfeeding policy, Scotland, UK, health services, government, scaling-up
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Funders: Scottish Government (
Depositing User: George Austin-Coskry
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2022 09:48 UTC
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2023 16:11 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
McFadden, Alison:
Kendall, Sally:
Eida, Tamsyn J.:
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