To determine the adequacy of health education on breastfeeding in antenatal clinics

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Shamas, Robina Gul
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Knowledge is the foundation for practice. Most nutrition education programmes operate on the premise that nutritional knowledge of mothers can have an impact on the nutritional status of their children. Literature review revealed that most mothers who had access to the nutrition education especially to breastfeeding education showed an improvement in their children's nutritional status due to improved feeding practice. Health education programmes on breastfeeding has been implemented in Zambia since the last one decade using the health workers as the largest source to educate mothers. But the rapidly rising graphs of infant morbidity and mortality due to diseases of infancy preventable with successful breastfeeding suggest that the health education in the antenatal clinics might be inadequate.This study looked at the adequacy of health education on breastfeeding in the antenatal clinics of the Lusaka Urban District.A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted from 1st Feb. to 30th April 2000 to collect necessary data for the study. Information tools were antenatal mothers and antenatal cards. Data was entered into computer using Epi-Info 6 and analysed. A sample of 300 mothers from ten Lusaka Urban District clinics was drawn and data was collected using a structured interview schedule containing both close-ended and open-ended questions. Knowledge that mothers gained after health education in the antenatal clinics was the indicator of success.The first 30 mothers from each clinic with more than one antenatal visit were included in the study. Questions were asked with the help of a trained research assistant. The main findings were:70% of the mothers were aged between 20-30 years, 93% were married and 73% were housewives. 50.7% of mothers had primary education. 79% visited the antenatal clinic for five or less than five times and 78% belonged to high density areas. Adequate health education on breastfeeding was being given to only 15% of mothers as indicated by their adequate knowledge on breastfeeding acquired during antenatal visits. General information on breastfeeding was the most commonly discussed topic (42% mothers showed adequate knowledge). The least discussed topic was the breast conditions hindering successful breastfeeding (2% mothers had adequate knowledge). The mothers were getting wrong information on certain aspects of breastfeeding such as duration of exclusive breastfeeding, time to wean and mother to child transmission of HIV. Health education on breastfeeding in the Baby Friendly clinics was also inadequate although the knowledge of mothers on breastfeeding attending Baby Friendly clinics was better than those attending non-Baby Friendly clinics. 22% of mothers from Baby Friendly clinics had adequate knowledge on breastfeeding while the same result was shown by only S% of mothers attending non-Baby Friendly clinics. There was strong association between the outcome (adequacy of health education on breastfeeding) and attending Baby Friendly clinics. This was proved by P value of 0.018 rejecting the hypothesis of no association between the two variables.Recommendations have been made according to the findings of the study in order to improve the implementation of health education on B.F in antenatal clinics
Health education , Breast feeding