Breastfeeding Knowledge and Practices amongst Mothers in a Rural Population of North India: A Community-based Study

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Abstract

Background

National family health survey-3 of India has revealed startling lower exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) rates (16.9%) in the state of Haryana compared with national data (46%). The barriers to breastfeeding in this population are not clearly known. Therefore, a study was conducted in a rural population of the state to study their breastfeeding practices, knowledge regarding usefulness of breastfeeding and factors influencing the breastfeeding practices.

Methods

In six villages of Panchkula district of Haryana, all the mothers of infants between 0–6 months were interviewed using a pretested semi-structured questionnaire. Time at initiation of breastfeeding, duration of EBF and their understanding about the usefulness of breastfeeding were assessed. Position of the baby during breastfeeding and attachment of the baby's mouth to the breast were assessed by direct observation while feeding. Breastfeeding knowledge of the mother was evaluated.

Results

Out of the 77 mothers, 30% and 10% exclusively breastfed their infants till 4 and 6 months of age, respectively. There was ‘good attachment’ in 42% mother–infant pairs and infants were held in ‘correct position’ by 60% mothers. Thirty-nine percent of the mothers had ‘satisfactory’ breastfeeding knowledge. On multivariate logistic regression analysis, lack of breastfeeding counseling was significantly associated with decreased rates of EBF at 4 months and 6 months (p-value 0.01 and 0.002, respectively) and ‘full’ breastfeeding (FBF) at 6 months of age (p-value 0.002).

Conclusions

EBF/FBF practices and breastfeeding knowledge are suboptimal among the rural North Indian mothers. Breastfeeding counseling with emphasis on correct technique can improve the EBF/FBF rates.

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