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n Gender and Behaviour - Exclusive breastfeeding in the contexts of socio-cultural challenges and mothers' health in rural and mixed urban areas of Ijebu, South Western Nigeria.
Optimal duration to breastfeed the new born baby is one of the crucial public health issues that the World Health Organization (WHO) keeps constant in its campaign for all round healthcare delivery for mother and child. To be sure, there is consensus on the need for exclusive breast feeding for the baby. This is believed to enhance the child social development and biological growth. However, at what social and economic cost to the mother? The study investigates challenges being faced by the mothers, which are sometime inconsistent to their socio-economic pursuits, growth and material well being. Other objectives include understanding of the pathways to mothers' healthcare consumption, such as post-partum lactation amenorrhea during the period of breastfeeding. Other challenges include lack of support/encouragement from employers (for those in the formal employment) and husbands' contribution to sustain the practice.
The study adopted qualitative approach to probe the extent of EBF among the mothers between the ages of 15 and 49 years and their husbands of ages between 18 and 60 in Ijebu-Yoruba South Western Nigeria, involving the mixed urban (i.e. informal and informal sectors) and the rural societies. The methods of data collection were Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and in-depth (IDI) interviews. There were eight (8) FGDs for mothers and the husbands and 10 in-depth interviews for mothers, father, health givers and opinions leaders. The data were analysed through content and descriptive method. Data revealed significant, but inverse relationship between the extent of breastfeeding and nutritional support for the mothers. There are also incongruous relationship between the mother's job and the extent of breastfeeding. Furthermore, it was revealed that, there was correlation between the health of the mother and the child and the extent of breastfeeding. Fourthly, mothers are believed to lose their prime and kinky body frame to sagging and unattractive frame, which makes their husbands to look elsewhere for other attractive women.
It is therefore suggested that government, international agencies and concerned non-governmental organization (NGOs) should intensify effort to open up rural and mixed urban settlements to Human Development Amenities (HAD) and bring about a strong intervention to Labour Law to bring about adequate period for maternity leave.
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