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n South African Journal of Child Health - The practice of breastfeeding by healthcare workers in the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, southeastern Nigeria : research
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.
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