South African Journal of Child Health
On-line version ISSN 1999-7671
Print version ISSN 1994-3032
ANYANWU, O U; EZEONU, C T; EZEANOSIKE, O B and OKIKE, C O. The practice of breastfeeding by healthcare workers in the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, southeastern Nigeria. S. Afr. j. child health [online]. 2014, vol.8, n.2, pp.55-58. ISSN 1999-7671.
ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: Optimal breastfeeding practices include exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for the first 6 months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding with adequate complementary foods on to at least 2 years of age. This is expected to be well known and practised by healthcare workers (HCWs) who are in the position to educate the community. OBJECTIVE: To determine the actual breastfeeding practices of HCWs in a tertiary hospital in south-eastern Nigeria. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional, descriptive study among female HCWs at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, southeastern Nigeria, using a self-administered, semi-structured questionnaire. RESULTS: One hundred HCWs were recruited, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other HCWs. Only 3% practised EBF with all their children, their cited reasons being a busy work schedule (61.8%), EBF being too stressful (18.4%), ignorance of benefits of EBF (13.2%) and lack of family support (3.9%). Only 1% breastfed their babies up to 2 years. The reasons for failing to do so included refusal of the child to breastfeed (32.6%), another pregnancy (30.4%), feeling it was shameful (10.9%) and feeling that the baby was too old (8.7%). CONCLUSION: There are obvious shortcomings in breastfeeding practices among HCWs. They need to be empowered and supported to promote and support breastfeeding among their patients in particular and society in general.