Exclusive Breast Feeding practice in Luangwa District, Lusaka Province
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Exclusive Breast Feeding practice which is the best feeding practice for infants aged from birth to six (6) months, has been facing a lot of challenges. Although information on exclusive breast feeding was being given to mothers during Antenatal, Postnatal and children’s clinic, the practice still remained a challenge due to failure by mothers to sustain the practice. The purpose of this study was to establish levels of exclusive breast feeding practice among breast feeding mothers who had infants aged from birth to six months in Luangwa, a rural district of Lusaka Province. A descriptive cross section study design was used and a sample of 171 breast feeding mothers with infants aged from birth to six months, were randomly selected from five health facilities. The five facilities were randomly selected. The respondents were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule and to complement data from questionnaires, five focus group discussions were conducted one at each study site. Each group had seven participants. A focus group guide was used to facilitate the discussion. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS computer software package version 16. The Fishers Exact test was used to test the association between the dependent and independent variables. Qualitative data from the focus group discussions were analysed using content analysis with the help of qualitative research computer software Nvivo. The study revealed that the prevalence of exclusive breast feeding practice was at 104 (61%). Majority of the respondents 116 (67.8%) started breast feeding within an hour of the infant’s birth. However, during the first week of the infant’s life, other foods such as plain water or glucose, formula milk and cereals or porridge were given to the infants. Most of the respondents 71 (41.5%) indicated that insufficient milk was the reason for having resorted to mixed feeding. During focus group discussions, it was revealed that infants cried due to hunger and that forced mothers to introduce other foods. The group also revealed that early introduction of other foods was a common practice. At the age of 5-6 months only 10 (16%) of the infants were exclusively breast fed. However, the study showed that there was an association between exclusive breast feeding and the age of an infant (p value = 0.000). The level of education was low among the respondents as most respondents 103 (60%) had only attained primary school education. During the focus group discussions some male participants stated that some mothers did not comprehend the infant feeding information given at the health facilities hence did not adhere to the practice. However, education level was not significantly (p value = 0.065) associated with exclusive breast feeding. In relation to knowledge on the benefits of breast feeding, majority 107 (62.6%) of the respondents were aware that breast milk had all the nutrients that an infant required in the first six months of its life. Out of the 107, 43 (40%) gave their infants other foods besides breast milk. During focus group discussion, participants revealed that they were aware that breast milk was not only nutritious but also prevented diseases such as diarrhoea in infants. There was however no association between exclusive breast feeding and the knowledge on the benefits of breast feeding. The study revealed that majority 141 (82.5%) of the respondents received support from Health professionals, their spouses 78 (45.6%) and others. The study found that exclusive breast feeding was significantly associated (p value = 0.000) with support. However, there was no significance (p value = 0.838) with support from spouse. Societies have cultural beliefs on breast feeding which could influence breast feeding practice. This study revealed that it was difficult for mothers to practice EBF because of the amount of work they had to do at home which did not give them enough time to breast feed the infant. Infants were introduced to other foods early so that the mother could have time to carry out house chores. During focus group discussions, male respondents indicated that it was difficult to help mothers with house chores because neighbors would think that they were being controlled by their wives. Culturally men were not expected to carry out house chores. With regards to the form of support for breast feeding mothers, the study revealed that mothers required support with house chores for them to have time for EBF. There was also need to strengthen male involvement starting from Antenatal, Post natal and children’s clinic. Education on exclusive breast feeding should be given to families, the community and men must be encouraged to attend those meetings. The findings suggest that there was still need to strengthen exclusive breast feeding in the district. Consideration should be taken in educating spouses and the community on infant feeding because of the influence they have on breast feeding mothers.
- Medicine