Cultural barriers to exclusive breastfeeding among children aged 0-6 months in Tamale metropolitan area of Ghana
Background: The World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) for 6-months commencing at birth, with early breastfeeding commencing within 30 minutes of delivery. Cultural factors have been discovered to influence women's choice to EBF. The research was to determine the cultural influences on EBF and its implications on the nutritional status of infants 0-6 months.
Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted. The study included 300 women of reproductive age (18-45 years old) who had infants of 0-6 months and were accessing services at child welfare clinics in Tamale, Ghana. Data was collected using interviewer-administered questionnaire between mid-July to mid-August 2021.
Results: Most of the mothers (54%) had poor knowledge of exclusive breastfeeding. More than half (72%) did not practice exclusive breastfeeding. Most mothers (57%) did not offer colostrum to their newborns. Mothers-in-law influenced their daughters-in-laws breastfeeding behaviours. Over 50% of those who did not practice EBF said it was taboo to indulge in sex while EBF, to EBF when pregnant, to EBF when there was insufficient breast milk for infants signified by their frequent crying, and to EBF when mothers are likely to face challenges introducing complementary foods after 6 months. Most of the newborns had indications of underweight (69%), stunting (68%), and wasting (66%).
Conclusion: There are greater needs to develop health teaching, health education, and counselling strategies to change knowledge, attitude, and practices. Again, negative attitudes and behaviours of mothers and the community as whole regarding EBF could also be addressed using community based social marketing approach.
Annals of Medical Laboratory Science (2022) 2(1), 1 - 12
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