ATTITUDE TOWARDS EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING AMONG MARRIED STUDENTS OF KADUNA POLYTECHNIC
The study examined Attitudes towards Exclusive Breastfeeding among Married Students of Kaduna Polytechnic: A Study of College of Administrative Studies and Social Sciences. Objectively, two research questions were formulated. The survey design was used in the study. The sample size was 100. 100 questionnaires were administered to the respondents and answered correctly. So 100 questionnaires were used in the study. The data gathered were analysed using simple percentage frequency and mean. The findings revealed that formula feeding is more convenient than breastfeeding; it is embarrassing to breastfeed in public places; exclusive breastfeeding decreases sexual desires and satisfaction; there is no difference between growth rate and intellectual capacity between exclusively breastfed infants and formula fed infants. Based on the findings, conclusion was drawn and recommendations given that knowledge is no longer a challenge like it was before, the ministry of health and other health organization still need to intensify their efforts in educating women of child bearing age by organizing seminars and symposia specifically addressing the concerns of delayed milk production and breastfeeding difficulties; breastfeeding education should be introduced in school curriculum. That way, young people of both sexes can be educated at an earlier stage as they are future parents.
1.1 Background of the Study
Over the years, breastfeeding has been a universal means of feeding infants and a common feature of all cultures since the survival of mankind. It is a phenomenon that is deeply rooted in the tradition of human culture. Although, breastfeeding practices have fluctuated over the years, it is widely regarded as an unequalled way of providing ideal nutrition for the healthy growth and development of infants (World Health Organization, 2015a). Breast milk is mostly referred to as nature’s most precious gift to the newborn and the ideal food for the human infant of which an equivalent is yet to be developed by the scientific community despite tremendous advances in science and technology (Nanthini and Jeganathan, 2016).
There are several methods of infant feeding, prior to the discovery and recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding. Mixed feeding has been a common practice, where infants received breast milk and other food or liquids and predominant feeding, where infants receive breastmilk as a predominant source of nourishment and also receive water and water-based drinks or liquids (WHO, 2018).
Exclusive breastfeeding means only breast milk is allowed with the exception of medicine, vitamin syrup and oral rehydration solution for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods (WHO, 2015b). Complementary feeding means infants can receive breast milk, expressed milk or milk from a wet nurse, as well as solid or semi-solid foods, liquids, formula milk, while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or more (United nations children’s funds, 2019). This has been one of the primary aims of nutrition and public health programmes across the world with the aim of improving infant and child morbidity and mortality and also to improve maternal health. Exclusive breastfeeding is internationally the most preferred way of feeding infants during the first six months of their lives, and it is recognized as being one of the most natural and best forms of preventive medicine (WHO, 2015b).
During the first few days after delivery, colostrum, known as the first fluid that comes from the breast immediately after birth, is produced and should be fed to the new-born, while awaiting the production of regular breast milk (Makena, 2016). It is yellowish in colour, contains high protein and anti-bodies and often described as the first form of immunization because it is an important source of nutrition and antibody protection for a newborn child. Therefore, it is recommended that infants should be put on the breast immediately or within one hour after birth, which enables the stimulation of breast milk production (WHO, 2015b).
Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months has the capability to prevent 13% of all under five deaths in developing countries (UNICEF, 2016). However, infant and child mortality remains disturbingly high in Africa and other developing countries, despite the significant decline in most parts of the developed world. Only about 39% of infants in the developing countries and 25% in Africa are exclusively breastfed for the first six months (Lauer, Betran, De-onis and Barros, 2016).
In Nigeria, malnutrition contributed to 452,620 under-five deaths in 2017 (NDHS, 2017), while the National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS)reported that 37% of under-fives were stunted, 29% underweight, and 18% wasted. Also, NNHS reports showed that 26.6% under-fives had moderate and severe underweight, 44.3% moderate and severe stunting, and 10.9% moderate and severe acute malnutrition.
This study, therefore, seeks to find out Attitude towards Exclusive Breastfeeding among Married Students of Kaduna Polytechnic.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Knowledge and attitudes are important psychosocial factors that influence breastfeeding prevalence in general (Chambers, Mcinnes, Hoddinott, and Alder, 2017).Empowering women with knowledge of appropriate breastfeeding practices enables them to make informed decision which will consequently improve the rates of exclusive breastfeeding because it is expected that knowledge of exclusive breastfeeding should result to a favourable attitude and practice. However, the practice rate of exclusive breastfeeding is low in spite of the improved level of knowledge. This is because knowledge alone does not lead to behavioural change as it needs to be backed up with other factors (UNICEF, 2022). In addition, Heightened awareness and knowledge of health risks are important preconditions for self-directed change. Unfortunately, information alone does not necessarily exert much influence on refractory health impairing habits. (Bandura, 2019).
Lack of knowledge results to difficulties in breastfeeding and misconceptions, such as the inability of the mother to produce adequate quantities of milk to sustain the needs of the new born, the decreased nutritional value of milk or the quest to quench baby’s thirst. These misconceptions are accompanied by myths and negative attitudes towards exclusive breastfeeding that leads to poor practice and the continued feeding of their babies with other supplements before six months. It also implies that mothers are constantly faced with multiple barriers to continue breastfeeding despite having the knowledge. One of such barriers is employment.
Previous studies like Guthie (2018) and Salami (2016) identified employment as a barrier to the practice of exclusive breastfeeding. This is more prevalent in modern societies where conditions of life and work do not favour breastfeeding. Other factors include: influence from social norms, cultural practices and family, maternal education, level of income, among others (Salami, 2016). These factors are likely also to prevail in Kaduna Polytechnic. With the growth in science and technology, access to breast milk substitutes has resulted to a decline in breastfeeding rates. Some mothers do not practice exclusive breastfeeding. They instead substitute or replace breastmilk with formula feed, as breast milk has been branded as archaic and uncivilized practice associated with the poor (Aarts, 2019).
The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding cannot be over emphasized. For the child, it provides a stronger immunity that lowers the risk of contracting multitude of other diseases and chronic illnesses (Pan American Health organisation, 2015). It not only save lives of children younger than 5 years, but also improves children’s quality of life. For instance, those children who are malnourished and manage to survive do not enjoy good health and experience impaired development in the long run. Therefore, increasing rates of breastfeeding can help reduce the prevalence of various illnesses and health conditions, which in turn results in lower health care costs by lowering direct and indirect expenses (Clark and Bungum, 2018). These have a significant impact on the economy of the country as better infant health means fewer health insurance claims, less employee time off to care for sick children, and higher productivity (WHO, 2019).
Despite all these benefits associated with exclusive breastfeeding, many countries especially developing countries like Nigeria, are still battling to meet up with the targeted compliance rate by the international health organizations. To improve exclusive breastfeeding, factors influencing its practice and non-practice have to be identified in order to target programme and implementation which will promote maternal and infant health.
This research work, therefore, is aimed at investigating Attitude towards Exclusive Breastfeeding among Married Students of Kaduna Polytechnic.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To examine the attitudes of married students of Kaduna Polytechnic towards exclusive breastfeeding.
- To examine factors influencing the practice and non-practice of exclusive breastfeeding, among married students of Kaduna Polytechnic.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were asked to guide the study:
- What are the attitudes of married students of Kaduna Polytechnic towards exclusive breastfeeding?
- What are the factors that influence the practice and non-practice of breastfeeding among married students of Kaduna Polytechnic?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study serves as an eye opener, especially to the women population who are ignorant of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. It also serves as a tool for educating women on newborn feeding practices. The study motivates health professionals and health care providers on the need to intensify and widen their scope of counselling services to expectant mothers for proper education on exclusive breastfeeding. The study was able to elicit information that unveiled challenges faced by women in their bid to practice exclusive breastfeeding so that necessary actions can be taken to prevent and overcome such challenges.
The study also emphasized the need for communities, government and the society as a whole to create a favourable conducive environment and space for mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding without undue influence from social network, such as peers, elderly females, mother in-law, and so on. As past strategies did not consider the social norms linked to the practice and, therefore, did not address those who influence and enforce the current practice. Hence, the study will aid the ministry of health and other organizations concerned with infant and young child feeding in determining the type of interventions to design in order to improve maternal and child health. The study also contributes to the growing body of scientific knowledge and will also add to existing literature on the subject of exclusive breastfeeding.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
The study covers Kaduna Polytechnic. As an academic exercise, the study focuses on Attitudes towards Exclusive Breastfeeding among Married Students of Kaduna Polytechnic. The study also focuses on the factors influencing their practice and non-practice. The study will be limited to the primary and secondary data available at the disposal of the researcher.