Predictors of breastfeeding practices among mothers in a developing African country – A tertiary facility based study in Calabar, Nigeria
Introduction: Breastfeeding is essential for optimum childhood development. Although there is an increased awareness of the importance of breast milk, the Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey of 2018 showed that less than one-third (29%) of mothers in Nigeria practice exclusive breastfeeding. This may be attributed to several factors, hence the need for this study to assess the indicators and predictors of breastfeeding practices among mothers in a tertiary facility in Calabar, Cross River State. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria. Consenting mothers of children aged six weeks to two years were sequentially recruited into the study using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. A test of association of categorical variables was done using Chi square test and pvalue was set at 0.05. Results: One hundred and twenty one children and their mothers were surveyed. Mean age of children was 6.2±3.8months and mothers was 28±25years. Exclusive breastfeeding rate for six months was 67.8%.Timely breastfeeding within one hour of life was 44.6%,ever breastfed rate was 86%. Practice of giving water alongside breast milk and use of breast milk substitute was 18.2% and 14.0% respectively. Mothers age was significantly associated with practice of exclusive breastfeeding (p=0.014) and giving water alongside breast milk (p=0.005) while birth order was associated with timely commencement of breastfeeding within one hour of life (p=0.022). Conclusion: The ever breastfed and exclusive breastfeeding rates were fairly high. However, the timely first suckling rate, increased use of breast milk substitute and giving of water alongside breast milk in the first six months of life were low. There is the need for continuous health education of mothers.