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Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Postnatal Mothers Regarding Early Breastfeeding Initiation: Chipinge District, Zimbabwe

Gladys Mugadza, F.Z. Gumbo, M. Zvinavashe


Early breastfeeding initiation is one of the cost effective and simple strategies in working towards reduction of early neonatal illnesses and death. Research has shown that timely initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth can reduce about 22 % of neonatal death burden in the developing world. Materials and Methods: A descriptive cross sectional study was conducted in Chipinge district after getting ethical approval from the Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe, Manicaland Provincial Medical Director, Chipinge District Medical officer and study participants. Systematic interval sampling was employed to select 550 healthy mother-baby pairs within the first week of giving birth. Analysis of data was done using SPSS version 20 to calculate the frequencies, percentages, mean score, proportion, standard deviation and standard error. Data was presented in tables and figures. Cross tabulation was also employed for demographic characteristics and time to initiation of breastfeeding. Results: The participant’s minimum age was 16 with a maximum age of 39 years old. All the participants were married. A total of 304 (55.2%) of the participants were Christians with 520 (94.5%) having attended some formal education. All newborn babies were healthy and term at the time of birth and no baby was resuscitated at the time of birth. The mean early breastfeedding initiation knowledge, attitude and practice score was 8.07, 3.93 and 7.82 with Standard Deviations of 2.2, 0.3 and 3.3 respectively. Almost half of the participants 244 (44.4%) displayed good knowledge levels on EBFI. Majority of the participants 509 (93%) portrayed good attitudes towards early breastfeeding initiation. Contray to good attitudes, only 342 ( 62.2%) postnatal mothers initiated breastfeeding within an hour of birth. Discussions: Despite of participants’ fair knowledge levels and positive attitudes regarding early breastfeeding initiation, practice was far below the 90 % recommended by World Health Organization. Recommendations: Practical early breastfeeding initiation interventions need to be put in place to bridge the theory practice gap.

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