Case study: Breastfeeding

Experience Labs are contributing to efforts to help increase breastfeeding rates in Scotland. The team of specialist design researchers, based at the GSA’s Highlands and Islands Creative Campus in Forres, collaborated with mothers, health professionals and school pupils to explore and generate ideas of how to promote breastfeeding among new mothers.

Breastfeeding rates in the UK are among the lowest in Europe, and in Scotland, rates are poor and static. According to 2014/15 statistics from ISD Scotland, only 38% of babies were breastfed for at least six weeks. This is despite evidence that breastfeeding has the potential to improve the health of both mother and baby.

During the project, the Lab team collaborated with pupils from Elgin Academy to design new ways of promoting the benefits of breastfeeding. The outcomes of the sessions include proposals for a special promotional campaign involving branding coffee cups, grocery bags and cupcakes, and a public event, ‘Breastival,’ to help normalise breastfeeding in public.

Purple wristbands branded with breastfeeding

Breastfeeding wristbands distributed by the Experience Labs. Image credit: Leigh-Anne Hepburn

Separate workshops were also held with mothers and health professionals to gather their views on how to increase breastfeeding rates.

During World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7 2016), researchers asked local businesses in Moray for their support to help realise some of the ideas. The Experience Labs team visited various businesses in Elgin to talk about the ongoing work to boost breastfeeding and invite comments on the pupils’ ideas.

Initial feedback from the Elgin businesses has been positive. Jacqui Cruickshank, owner of The Ditsy Teacup, was enthusiastic about the ideas. She said: “I’m delighted to see such exciting ideas to promote breastfeeding. It’s definitely something The Ditsy Teacup would be keen to support.

Two women at table with breastfeeding promotion material

Research Dr Tara French speaks about breastfeeding with Jacqui Cruickshank, of The Ditsy Teacup. Image credit: Leigh-Anne Hepburn.

In order to trial the idea of a public event to promote breastfeeding in public, the researchers hosted a “Milk Bar” at Elgin’s Food & Drink Festival, speaking to hundreds of members of the public about the campaign and the ideas created by the pupils. The Milk Bar also attracted the attention of local MSP Richard Lochhead.

The final Experience Lab brought together health professionals, health academics and new mothers to reflect on the findings to date and to iterate the ideas generated over the course of the project. The Lab team is currently consolidating the findings to produce a report and academic papers to disseminate the outcomes of the project.


“This was a fantastic opportunity for health professionals, new mothers and school pupils to work with DHI’s Experience Labs design team on initiatives to boost breastfeeding rates. Using the Experience Labs’ design tools and methods was a completely new approach. We hope very much that it will help us in our endeavours to improve the image of breastfeeding and increase uptake in the UK.”

Professor Grant Cumming, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Gray’s hospital, NHS Grampian

Design innovation played a crucial role in supporting our participants to co-create new ways of promoting breastfeeding. By bringing together the voices of those who will benefit from the outcomes of the project, the Experience Labs have ensured that the ideas meet an identified need and will have a larger impact.”

Dr Tara French, Experience Labs


Contact: Dr Tara French, [email protected]; or Leigh-Anne Hepburn, [email protected]