Background: Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is viewed as a major public health intervention to reduce the child mortality, particularly, in the neonates and infants.
Aims & Objectives: To study the knowledge, attitude and practice regarding exclusive breastfeeding as well as to identify its determinants and explore barriers against it among mothers in Abha City.
Materials and Methods: A cross sectional study was adopted. It included all mothers, who have a child aged 6-12 months, attending primary health care centers within the Abha city. An Arabic validated questionnaire was used for data collection. It comprises 3 parts as follows: personal characteristics, knowledge about breast feeding and attitude toward breastfeeding.
Results: A total of 600 women, with children aged between 6 months and 12 months, from those registered in PHCC in Abha were included in the study. Their age ranged between 18 and 47 years with a mean of 31.4±5 years. Most of them were Saudi (88.2%) and university graduated (78.7%). Overall mothers’ breastfeeding knowledge was good among more than half of them (55.3%) and excellent among 30.7% of them while it was unsatisfactory among 14% of the mothers. Positive attitude towards breastfeeding was reported among 62.2% of the participants while negative attitude was reported among more than one–third of them (37.8%). Breastfeeding in the first 6 months was practiced by 24.7% of the participated mothers. Of them, only 7.3% practiced exclusive breast feeding. In the multivariate analysis, governmental workers had significant double probability of not practicing exclusive breastfeeding as opposed to house wives (adjusted OR= 1.9, 95%CI= 1.02-4.3). Women delivered by caesarean section were at double risk for non-practicing exclusive breastfeeding compared to those delivered normally (adjusted OR= 2.1, 95%CI= 1.2-10.4). Women who did not have breastfeeding education were at higher risk of not practicing exclusive breastfeeding than those have it (adjusted OR=1.9, 95%CI=1.06-11.2). Work-related problems (46.2%), insufficient breast milk (34.2%), maternal health problems (14.9%) and neonatal health problems (9.7%) are the commonly reported barriers against exclusive breastfeeding.
Conclusion: Breastfeeding exclusivity among our sample is suboptimal, compared to the current WHO recommendations, despite the relatively higher level of knowledge. Irrespective of maternal educational status, many misconceptions are prevalent regarding breastfeeding practices that need special emphasis in health education campaigns.
Breastfeeding; Exclusive; Prevalence; Knowledge; Attitude; Practice, Saudi Arabia