Factors Influencing Exclusive Breastfeeding in Bundibugyo District, Uganda

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Uganda Christian University
Background: Immediate and exclusive breastfeeding have been recognised by the WHO and UNICEF as important and necessary public health practices that can help prevent child morbidity and mortality, and to satisfy sustainable development goal (SDG) 2.2 “end all forms of malnutrition by 2030”. Despite this realisation, efforts to promote and embrace immediate and exclusive breastfeeding have achieved limited success in Bundibugyo district. Problem: While many parts of Uganda including Bundibugyo district have a culture of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding has remained low at 44% as compared to the national average of 66%. Objectives: The study established prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding in children within the age range of 0-6 months and the factors that influence exclusive breastfeeding among mothers in Bundibugyo district. Methods: The study used a cross-sectional mixed methods design. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to collect data. Findings: The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding among the study participants was at 47%, which is below the national average of 66%. The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding declined as the children grew older. Majority of the mothers reported having initiated their children on breast milk in the first hour after birth. Majority (75%) of the mothers delivered from a health facility. The study found statistically significant association between health facility delivery, ANC 4+( 4 or more ANC Visits), baby age, and exclusive breastfeeding. Mother’s characteristics like age, level of education, marital status, mother knowledge and attitude, influenced exclusive breastfeeding. Conclusion and recommendations: The study findings point to important individual level, interpersonal, and institutional/organizational level factors that influence EBF. Several misconceptions about EBF such as child’s refusal of other feeds in future exist and are a barrier to sustainable EBF practice in Bundibugyo. Strategies to increase mothers’ knowledge, improve attitude towards ANC and facility deliveries are recommended.