Dun-Dery J, and Laar A.K. (2016)
In Ghana, periodic national surveys report the practice of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) in the general population to be over 50 %. However, little is known about EBF among professional working mothers, particularly its duration after maternity leave. Female workers are entitled to 12 weeks (84 days) of maternity leave with full pay in Ghana, and this can be extended by two additional weeks in case of a caesarean or abnormal delivery. This study assessed the prevalence of EBF, as well as factors associated with the practice among professional working mothers in one of the ten regional capitals of Ghana.
The study was descriptive cross-sectional in design and employed a multi-stage sampling technique to sample 369 professional working mothers. The study was planned and implemented between January to July 2015. Study-specific structured questionnaires were used in the data collection over a period of one month. Some factors including demographic characteristics, types of facilities available at workplace to support breastfeeding, challenges to exclusive breastfeeding at the workplace and mother’s knowledge base on EBF, were assessed. Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as feeding infants with only breast milk, without supplemental liquids or solids except for liquid medicine and vitamin or mineral supplements.
There was a near universal awareness of exclusive breastfeeding among respondents (99 %). Even though most mothers initiated breastfeeding within an hour of delivery (91 %), the EBF rate at six months was low (10.3 %). The study identified three elements as determinants of EBF; Those who did not receive infant feeding recommendation from health workers were less likely to practice exclusive breastfeeding (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] 0.45; 95 % Confidence Interval [CI] 0.27, 0.77), mothers who had shorter duration of maternity leave were less likely to practice exclusive breastfeeding (AOR 0.09; 95 % CI 0.02, 0.45), and those who had a normal delivery were almost 10 times as likely to practice exclusive breastfeeding (AOR 9.02; 95 % CI 2.85, 28.53).
Given the high breastfeeding initiation, but low EBF continuation rate among professional working mothers, improved policies around maternity leave and breastfeeding friendly work environments are needed.