ASSESSING MOTHER’S KNOWLEDGE ON THE IMPORTANCE AND PRACTICE OF EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING IN THE MOLYKO COMMUNITY
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Breast feeding is one of the oldest and healthiest practice in the world but as the world changes; women sometimes need different information and support to keep breast feeding their babies (August et al 2010). This study was carried out in the Molyko community.
The target population of this study was made up of mothers living in Molyko community, the study design was a cross sectional descriptive design whereby mothers knowledge was assess for a given period of time.
The study design was collected with a pen, pencil and a questionnaire where females were range from 21-29 years (33.0% ) who belong to an adult age, follow by 15-20 making up of young mothers . 30 – 39 years (31.67%) who belong to an older age. In conclusion, women in this knowledge and practice of exclusive breastfeeding, there is still room for improvement. The number proportion of mothers that still did not have adequate know ledge about exclusive breastfeeding still need to be educated.
1.1. Background of Study
Breastfeeding is one of the oldest and healthiest practices in the world but as the world changes; women sometimes need information and support to keep breastfeeding their babies (August et al. 2010).
Today, the World Health Organization (2009) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months postpartum and the use of breast milk as a complementary form of feeding for up to 2 years in order to confer optimal health benefits to the mother and child effectively (Jenifer et al., 2012). However, a good mental, emotional and physical collaboration between the mother and her newborn is needed for desired outcome in the practice of exclusive breastfeeding (Khreshe, 2011). Deciding how an infant will be fed is a complex decision involving various social, psychological, emotional and environmental factors (Arora et al., 2000).
Good nutrition is fundamental to a child’s health but its importance during the early years increases manifold as the weight gain during the first year is dramatic, from about 3kg at birth to 10kg at the age of one year. Along with the physical growth, there are qualitative changes in child’s behavior and social relationship that can be affected by the nutritional status of the child.
According to Melvin, (2008), nutrition is the sum total of the processes involved in the intake and utilization of food substances by living’ organisms including ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport and metabolism of nutrients found in food. Adequate nutrition during early childhood is fundamental to the development of each child’s full potential. It has established that the period from birth to two years of age is a” critical window” for the promotion of optimal growth, health and overall survival of children (Ali et al., 2006).
Good food is important for good health, children who are well fed during the first two years of life are more likely to stay healthy for the rest of their childhood. (Ashworth,2002). As infants reach the age of five to six months, they begin to need more foods than mother’s milk can provide. In order to fulfill the nutritional requirements of the rapidly growing child, addition of semi-solid and solid foods is essential breast milk for formula-fed babies.
WHO now recommends the introduction of complementary foods around the six month of life, instead of between the fourth and six months as previously recommended (Infant and young child nutrition,2001). During the weaning process, the quantity, type and choice of food items may not be ideal for the adequate growth of the child, as a weaned child is more susceptible to infections because of the loss of anti-infective and protective properties of human milk thus exposing infants to increased infections particularly diarrhea related diseases. It may also lead to malnutrition, or infant nutrition and adversely affect the growth rates as well as to anemia (Schamin,2005).
The introduction of semi-solid feeding and the gradual replacement of milk by solid food as the main source of nutrition is the process known as weaning. In its recent publications the WHO uses the term weaning in a more limited sense to indicate complete cessation of breastfeeding (WHO, 2002).
The term “wean” comes from an ancient phrase that means “To accustom”. So weaning refers to the entire process during which the infant changes from full dependence on breast milk to complete independence from it (Abrupt or final wean) (Health Canada, 2012). Weaning may also mean the complete cessation of breast feeding.
The term “weaning” has been traditionally described as withdrawal from breast feeding. For example when breast feeding is gradually being replaced by fresh or modified animal milk, or by semi-solid foods. The feeding behavior changes from sucking to chewing and biting and the obligatory introduction with the mother or other caretaker changes to independent feeling (Parkinson, 2003).
Generally, infants were breastfed longer in ancient time than in present today (Piovanetti, 2001). Aristolle stated that breastfeeding should continue for 12 to 18 months. World health organization (WHO), UNICEF and American Academy’ of pediatrics (AAP) recommend that infants should be breast fed for the first six months of life, with weaning to solid. (AAP, 2012; Kramer, 2004; UNICEF, 2005).
1.2 Statement of Problem
Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is a method of breast feeding which has been recommended by WHO-UNICEF. These two bodies have tested it and found it successful for solving many problems in an infant. Unfortunately, mothers’ poor knowledge on the importance of EBF and towards suboptimal breastfeeding practices is the reason of poor health of the babies. In addition, many children are admitted in hospitals due to gastrointestinal infections, pneumonia and other allergies and infections. One of the contributing factors in child mortality is suboptimal breastfeeding at times due to the discarding of colostrum.
In Cameroon especially in the community of Molyko of Buea, poor EBF rates might have resulted from knowledge deficit on the importance of breastfeeding during antenatal nutrition, education sessions and infant that are subjected to poor breastfeeding practice may easily become malnourished thus contributing to the increasing rate of infant mortality.
Diarrhea is one of the problems associated with the use of feeding bottles while growth retardation in babies has been found to coincide with the introduction of milk substitutes. Moreover, mothers are unaware of the benefits of EBF and the risks associated with bottle feed. So, there is need to assess the knowledge of mothers of the Molyko community towards the practice of exclusive breast feeding so that health problems among new born babies can be avoided.
1.4 Research Questions