Objective The study investigated the extent of breast feeding among nursing mothers whose infants or children were receiving specialist attention in various child care units of Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria.
Methods 100 nursing mothers aged 21 years and above completed a self-administered questionnaire. Their occupations were: Civil servant, Doctor, Pharmacist, Nurse, Lawyer, Private sector employee, Trader and others. Demographic data and information about breast feeding including initiation, frequency, extent, duration as well as knowledge of exclusive breast feeding (EBF) were obtained.
Results Age of 95% of mothers ranged from 21 to 40 years and 96% had completed secondary or tertiary education. 14% were not providing breast-feeding, 29% breast fed but not exclusively and 50% were providing exclusive breast-feeding. About 53.5% understood EBF as feeding an infant with breast milk only for the first 6 months. About 48% were not providing EBF for fear of starting but not sustaining it, and 65.5% because of the pressure to return to work.
Conclusion The importance of breast feeding needs to be explained and re-emphasised to the entire community. It is time for public policy makers to adequately consider the nutritional needs and rights of neonates, infants and children as silent (non-voting) members of the community. Specifically, public policy should ensure that infants of working and non-working mothers alike obtain EBF for at least 6 months following delivery, and sufficient breast feeding thereafter.
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