Pregnancy, births and maternity: introduction

Over the last few generations, the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth in Scotland have reduced markedly. Death of the mother as a result of complications during or after childbirth is now exceptionally rare. In addition, stillbirth, neonatal and infant deaths have fallen to such a low level that it is possible there will be little further improvement.

In 2016 there were 54,488 live births registered in Scotland, a birth rate of 10.1 per 1,000 population. 236 stillbirths were registered; at 4.3 per 1,000 births, the stillbirth rate for 2016 was a small increase on the previous year (NRS vital events tables). The most recent comparisons to the rest of the UK (2015 data) show that there are only small differences between UK countries in their stillbirth, neonatal and perinatal death rates (MBRRACE-UK).

The period between conception and birth has an important impact children's future health, and this impact continues throughout adulthood. It is now well known that smoking, drinking alcohol and drug misuse during pregnancy can have a subsequent negative impact.

Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant can get more information at Ready Steady Baby! 

Please note that:

  • This Pregnancy Birth and Maternity section of the website covers population fertility, pregnancy (in general, but not teenage pregnancy specifically), maternal and birth outcomes and breastfeeding (i.e. the stages from pregnancy through to the newborn child).
  • The life stages from infancy through to adolescence are covered in our Children and Young People section, and are summarised in our 2016 Children and Young People Profiles.
  • The Sexual Health section covers terminations and teenage pregnancy.