Exclusive Breast Feeding Practice in Zambia
Background: Exclusive Breast Feeding (EBF), the best feeding practice for infants aged from birth to six (6) months has faced challenges of adherence, exposes infants to infections such as diarrhoea, despite information on its importance being given to mothers. The main objective of this study was to establish levels of EBF practice among breast feeding mothers who had infants aged from birth to six months, factors influencing the practices and support required for mothers in Luangwa district.
Methods: A descriptive cross section study design was used and a total sample of 171 breast feeding mothers with infants aged from birth to six months were selected using systematic sampling method. The study was conducted in five randomly selected health facilities. The respondents were interviewed using a pretested semi-structured interview schedule and five focus group discussions each group with seven participants, were conducted using a focus group discussion guide at study sites. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS computer software package and Fishers Exact test was used to test the association between the dependent and independent variables. Qualitative data from the focus group discussions was analysed using content analysis with the help of qualitative research computer software Nvivo.
Results: The prevalence of exclusive breast feeding practice was at 61%. The factors that were found to be statistically significant to exclusive breast feeding were age of infant and support breast feeding mothers received. The others factors were found not to be statistically significant to exclusive breast feeding and these were educational level of the mother, knowledge on benefits of breast feeding and support from spouse.
The study revealed that mothers found it difficult to practice Exclusive Breast Feeding because of the amount of work at home and spouses found it difficult to help with house chores because culturally it was a woman's work.
Conclusion: Though exclusive breast feeding practice had improved in the district, there was still need to strengthen the practice in the district through education of spouses, family and the community on infant feeding for them to support breast feeding mothers. With the support, mothers will have time to exclusively breast feed their infants.