Breastfeeding in infancy: identifying the program-relevant issues in Bangladesh
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Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/43237
Background: In Bangladesh, many programs and projects have been promoting breastfeeding since the late 1980 s. Breastfeeding practices, however, have not improved accordingly. Methods: For identifying program-relevant issues to improve breastfeeding in infancy, quantitative data were collected through visits to households (n = 356) in rural Chittagong and urban slums in Dhaka, and qualitative data from sub-samples by applying semi-structured in-depth interviews (n = 42), focus group discussions (n = 28), and opportunistic observations (n = 21). Trials of Improved Practices (TIPs) (n = 26) were conducted in the above sites and rural Sylhet to determine how best to design further interventions. Our analysis focused on five breastfeeding practices recommended by the World Health Organization: putting baby to the breast within the first hour of birth, feeding colostrum and not giving fluids, food or other substances in the first days of life, breastfeeding on demand, not feeding anything by bottle, and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Results: The biggest gaps were found to be in putting baby to the breast within the first hour of birth (76% gap), feeding colostrum and not giving other fluids, foods or substances within the first three days (54% gap), and exclusive breastfeeding from birth through 180 days (90% gap). Lack of knowledge about dangers of delaying initiation beyond the first hour and giving other fluids, foods or substances, and the common perception of "insufficient milk" were main reasons given by mothers for these practices. Health workers had talked to only 8% of mothers about infant feeding during antenatal and immunization visits, and to 34% of mothers during sick child visits. The major providers of infant feeding information were grandmothers (28%). Conclusions: The findings showed that huge gaps continue to exist in breastfeeding behaviors, mostly due to lack of awareness as to why the recommended breastfeeding practices are beneficial, the risks of not practicing them, as well as how to practice them. Health workers' interactions for promoting and supporting optimal breastfeeding are extremely low. Counseling techniques should be used to reinforce specific, priority messages by health facility staff and community-based workers at all contact points with mothers of young infants.