Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant. Maternity refers to the period after the birth and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context.
The protected period covers in non-work cases the whole of a woman’s pregnancy as well as 26 weeks following the birth (or stillbirth after more than 24 weeks of pregnancy).
In work cases, the protected period commences when a woman becomes pregnant and ends either two weeks after the end of the pregnancy or, if entitled to ordinary and additional maternity leave, at the end of that period or when she returns to work if that is earlier. Maternity discrimination includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.
More male new-borns than female new-borns
There were 3465 live births reported in Fife in 2017 of which 1788 were male and 1677 female
Birth rate continues to fall
Fife has a slightly higher birth-rate than Scotland as a whole (10.2 vs 10.1 per 1000). Fife had a rate of teenage pregnancy of 36.5, which was still higher than the national average (32.4) and a marked reduction over a period of 10 years from a high figure of 66.9 in 2007.
Barriers in employment due to pregnancy
In Fife, we can estimate that around 413 mothers face reduction in employment every year due to their being pregnant, and up to 376 being discouraged from attending neonatal appointment.
In 2017, there were 3,465 births in Fife. This is a decrease of 7.3% from 3,739 births in 2016. Of these 3,465 births, 1,677 (48.4%) were female and 1,788 (51.6%) were male.
Fife had a rate of 36.5, which was still higher than the national average (32.4) and a marked reduction over a period of 10 years from a high figure of 66.9 in 2007.
Impact of Pregnancy on Career and Employment
The workplace shows patterns of inequality that are carried over both pregnancy and maternity (and/or paternity) stages. Research carried out in in 2015 showed that on average 11% of mothers reported that they were either dismissed; made compulsorily redundant, where others in their workplace were not; or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job. 20% said they had experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer and /or colleagues. 10% of mothers said their employer discouraged them from attending antenatal appointments.
In Fife, this means we can expect that around 413 mothers lose their jobs every year due to their being pregnant, and up to 376 being discouraged from attending neonatal appointments:
|Maternities / Year|
|EHRC / BIS model 2015||Scotland||Fife|
|Mothers losing their jobs via dismissal, compulsory redundancy or unfair treatment
|Mothers experiencing harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working
|Mothers discouraged from attending neonatal appointments||10%||5472||376|
Source: EHRC/BIS model estimates / with NRS population estimates 2017
Attitudes to Maternity / Paternity leave
People hold different views about paid maternity and paternity leave. Across Scotland, 82% agreed that mothers should be entitled to six months paid leave after having a child, just 46% felt that fathers should have an equivalent right.
Pregnancy is recognised as one of the key triggers increasing the risk of poverty for women and particularly lone parents. Over four in ten (43%) children in single parent families are poor,4 compared to just over two in ten (22%) of children in couple families.
The End Child Poverty coalition of civil organisations and the Centre for Research in Social Policy publish a Child Poverty map of the UK (see here). For the period of October to December 2015, child poverty in Fife was reported at 25% after housing costs which is comparable to the national average.
The Maternity Care Survey 2015 shows that Fife’s overall rating for antenatal care follows that of Scotland’s average (92%) and improved on 2013 by 1%.
However, with only 11% of respondents given a choice about where antenatal check-ups would take place, Fife trails 8% under the national average and highlights another aspect of pregnancy discrimination due to a lack of flexibility in the workplace.
Postnatal Care and Mental Health
Postnatal care is rated in Fife 2% above the national average with 93% of respondents having a positive experience. The most negative responses (23%) relate to referral to advice services on emotional changes experienced after birth. Post-natal depression (PND), with a prevalence of 10-15% this is likely to affect 376 to 568 mothers yearly during the maternity leave stages.
Sexual / domestic abuse
Scottish Women’s Aid research from 2012 estimates that pregnant women face an “increased risk” of domestic abuse, at 5% to 21% of pre-birth cases and in 13% to 21% of post-birth cases’ and that ‘abuse often starts in pregnancy and gets worse when the first child is new-born’.
 EHRC (2015) Pregnancy and Maternity-related Discrimination and Disadvantage: Experience of Employees. For BIS / IFF research
 Maternal Care Survey 2015. NHS Fife Victoria Hospital Results http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Health/maternitysurvey
 Scottish women’s Aid (2012) Everyday Terrorism: How Fear Works in Domestic Abuse, p137