Maternal knowledge of effective breastfeeding and its benefits, as potential determinant of attitudes to infant feeding: A survey in Calabar, Nigeria

Ogban E Omoronyia, Agam E Ayuk, Elvis M Bisong, Kenneth N Nwafor

Abstract

Appropriate breastfeeding is a cost-effective child survival strategy. This study assessed relationship between knowledge of breastfeeding and attitude towards infant feeding among pregnant women in Calabar, Nigeria. By convenience sampling, consenting antenatal clinic attendees were recruited from secondary health centers in Calabar. Pre-tested questionnaire was used to assess knowledge of different aspects of breastfeeding, while the Iowa Infant Feeding Attitude Scale (IIFAS) was used to assess attitude towards infant feeding. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 21.0, with p-value of less than 0.05 considered statistically significant. Two hundred and fifty (250) pregnant women were surveyed with mean age of 29.7 ± 6.1 years. One hundred and eight respondents (43.2%) had unsatisfactory levels of knowledge. Common areas of misconception were oral thrush effect of breastfeeding (47.2%), frequency of breast milk expression (47.6%), and effects of inverted nipples (45.6%). Most respondents (92.0%) had neutral attitude to infant feeding, and there was no significant relationship between overall knowledge of breastfeeding and infant feeding attitude (p>0.05). Of all the knowledge areas assessed, only benefits to mothers (r=0.11, p=0.08) and effective breastfeeding (r=0.17, p=0.01), had knowledge scores that correlated positively with infant feeding attitude scores. These findings contribute to existing literature required for improvement in policies and strategies, for breastfeeding education and child survival, especially in resource-poor settings. There is need for further research towards improving priority content of maternal health education during the time-constrained ANC visits. (Afr J Reprod Health 2020; 24[3]: 69-77).

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