OPTIMAL BREASTFEEDING PRACTICES;
MOTHERS’ KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICES.
Keywords:Optimal Breastfeeding,, Exclusive Breastfeeding,, Maternal Knowledge,, Practices.
Background: Breastfeeding is a common practice in Pakistan but the reported
rates of optimal breastfeeding are quite low. A baseline data about maternal knowledge
and practices was required for the effective implementation of Infant and Young Children
Feeding (IYCF) strategy in the settings. Therefore, the study was aimed to assess the existing
knowledge and practices of the mothers about optimal breastfeeding practices. Study Design:
Cross sectional study. Setting: Pediatrics OPD of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Lahore. Period:
November and December 2015. Methods: Mothers (n=100) having children less than 2 years
of age. Optimal breastfeeding practices recommended by the WHO were used as a gold
standard to compare with the mothers’ knowledge and practices. Data was collected by using
interviewer administered questionnaire; and analyzed by using Statistical Package for Social
Sciences (SPSS) version 21. Results: Mean age of the mothers was 27.06±4.67 years. Other
characteristics included urban background 94%; literate 81%; and housewives 96%. Mean
monthly income of the family was 20840±13850 PKR. Only 34% mothers were counseled
about optimal breastfeeding practices during antenatal care visits. Assessment of mothers’
knowledge revealed that 57% were known to initiate breastfeeding within 1hr of birth; 93%
replied that colostrum must be given to the child; and 75% said that exclusive breastfeeding
period is upto 6 months of age. Mothers’ practices in comparison to their knowledge were
disappointing because only 29% mothers started breastfeeding within 1hr of birth; 71% mothers
fed colostrum to their child; and 34% exclusively breastfed their child upto the age of 6 months.
Inferential statistics showed statistically significant difference between mothers’ knowledge and
their practices (p <0.05). Conclusion: Two-third of mothers had not received any counseling
about breastfeeding practices during antenatal care visits. Though, mothers’ had better
knowledge about breastfeeding but the practices were suboptimal. Policy Message: Mothers
need continuous counseling and support to make their knowledge translated into practices.