Barriers to exclusive breast feeding, the missing links: a cross sectional study from Puducherry, India
Keywords:Barriers, Exclusive breastfeeding, Puducherry, Socio-demographic factors
Background: Breast milk, the first natural food for a new-born, provides all the energy and essential nutrients an infant requires for the first 6 months of life. The NHFS -4 survey shows only 45.5% of children are exclusively breastfed (EBF) in Puducherry. This study aims at assessing the socio-demographic characteristics associated with exclusive breastfeeding in a tertiary hospital in Puducherry and identify the barriers in the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding.
Methods: Community-based cross-sectional study at a tertiary hospital in Puducherry. Sample size: 115 mothers of 6 months to 2-year-old children, born term gestation with a birth weight of >2.5 kg, attending the Paediatric OPD. Questionnaire-based study comprising of socio-demographic and parameters pertaining to exclusive breast-feeding.
Results: Only 44.3% of the mothers have exclusively breastfed in the first 6 months. Shorter duration of spacing between births and caesarean section had significant negative association with exclusive breast-feeding. Most of the mothers received postnatal counselling on breast-feeding (94%) of which 58% were by health care personnel. Despite that, only a sixth (19%) of them were well versed with proper breastfeeding techniques. Poor secretion (45.3%), sore/inverted nipple (23.5%) amounted to the most common of the barriers. Among working mothers, 42.9% attributed their jobs as the cause for early weaning.
Conclusions: The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding is still low even among a literate study group. There were no significant association with socio-demographic factors found, but lacunae were identified. A more objective post-natal counselling to mothers involving their caregivers may improve the current scenario.
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