Exclusive breastfeeding rates and associated factors among working mothers attending child care services at selected health facilities in Arua District
Idoru, Derrick Fred
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Background: The role of breastfeeding in ensuring a healthy childhood and survival cannot be underestimated; the benefits span populations living in low income, middle income, and even high-income countries.To reduce infant and young child mortality, exclusive breast feeding has been identified as one of the major cost-effective interventions worldwide, especially in developing countries. Among working women, the rates of exclusive breastfeeding are much lower despite of government efforts such as Baby Friendly Health Initiative, Infant and Young Child Feeding, and maternity leave policy Objective:To determine the prevalence of Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF) and associated factors among working mothers of infants aged below six months attending child care services at selected health facilities in Arua district Methodology: A cross-sectional study was carried out among 119mothers with infants below 6 months at various health facilities in Arua municipality. Both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods.Focus group discussions wasused to collect qualitative data while a predesigned semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data.All data collected from the respondents was coded and analyzed. Results: The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding was 42.9% among the working mothers. Majority of the infants have a weight for length which is normal that is; a mean z-score of 0.184 and corresponding standard deviation of 1.147.The mean BMI of the mothers were 25.315 which falls in the range of overweight. The classification of the mothers BMI in terms of underweight (BMI less than 18.5), normal (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9), overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) and obese (BMI of 30 and above). There was a relationship between infant’s age and exclusive breastfeeding practice (X2=21.095, P=<0.005).There was also a significant association of exclusive breastfeeding and employment factors such as distance of mother’s work place from home and resumption of work. Analysis of qualitative data from the focus group discussions showed employer support as a major challenge faced by working mothers in exclusive breastfeeding. Conclusion: The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding in the study was 42.9% which is lower than that recommended by WHO and the national prevalence. Majority of the mothers timely initiated breastfeeding. Anthropometric nutritional status of infants and mothers did not show a clear relationship with exclusive breastfeeding as majority of infants were nutritionally normal whether they breastfed or not. The key predictors of exclusive breastfeeding in this study were age of infant, distance of work place from home and mother resuming of work. The study suggests that the key barriers to exclusive breastfeeding are lack of employer support. The focus group discussion showed that working mothers are affected by lack of a private place to breastfeed as privacy was a key issue for them.