What do the latest statistics from NHS Digital tell us about births in 2017/18?

This week NHS Digital released new figures looking at how babies were born 2017-18 compared to the last 10 years. They also examined maternal age and the rates of smoking, skin-to-skin and breastfeeding.

Woman at home with her newborn birthday.

Pregnancy news, 26/10/2018

The latest summary NHS maternity statistics report looks at the data relating to births in 2017-18, and what has changed in the last 10 years. Here's what they found:

1. Births in 2017-18

In this section they looked at the mum’s age, type of birth, how labour started, and whether pain medication was used before or during the birth.

Total number of births

  • 626,203 babies were born during 2017-18.
  • This is the lowest number of births in the last 10 years.

How old was mum?

  • The number of women having babies under the age of 20 has more than halved in the last 10 years.
  • The number of women giving birth aged 30-39 has increased by 7%.

How were babies born in 2017-18?

Pain relief

Anaesthetic or analgesic was given for pain relief in 61% of births.

2. What happened after babies were born?

In this section, NHS Digital looked at birthweights, Apgar scores and the skin-to-skin and breastfeeding rates in 2017-18.


Breast milk

74% of babies had breast milk as their first feed.

When did mum and baby go home?

3. During pregnancy

The report also looked at the demographics of mothers at their booking appointment, including BMI and whether they were current smokers.


  • More than 50% of women had an unhealthy BMI, with most in the overweight or obese category.
  • Women under the age of 20 were more likely to be underweight than they were obese, and just over 50% were at a healthy BMI.


  • 31% of women under the age of 20 said they were currently smoking at the time of their booking appointment.
  • This became less common the older the mother was, with only 6% of women aged 40 or over smoking at time of booking.


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