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Are nurses able to exclusively breastfeed their babies? A mixed methods study of conduciveness of the work environment of nurses to practice exclusive breastfeeding

Failatu Yahaya Iddi
Shamsu-Deen Ziblim
Victor Mogre


One of the factors that may influence the practice of EBF for working mothers is the conduciveness of the
work environment. We investigated the conduciveness of the work environment for the practice of EBF
among nurses with babies in the Tamale Metropolis. A questionnaire was administered to 130 nurses in five
selected health facilities in the Tamale Metropolis. Also, focus group discussions were employed to explore
nurses’ perceptions concerning EBF at the workplace. About 66.0% of nurses exclusively breastfed their
infants. Among nurses who did not exclusively breastfeed, 48.4% said their nature of work prevented them;
22.6% long distance between work and home and the rest blamed short maternity leave. Eighty-one percent
were not allowed to bring their children to the workplace; 86.3% said the workplace had no breastfeeding
rooms; and 46.0% said they were not given time to go breastfeed. In the qualitative data, lack of maternity
leave, traditions and uncooperative superiors were some of the barriers to EBF. The practice of EBF was
relatively high but below the WHO optimal breastfeeding rate of 90.0%. The length of maternity leave,
breastfeeding rooms and breastfeeding friendly staff could play an important role in promoting EBF among
nurses with babies