Background: Human milk is recognized to be excellent nutrition for neonates. However, supporting breastfeeding in these hospitalized vulnerable infants entails many challenges. Data are lacking on breastfeeding duration and associated factors for breastfeeding continuation until 6 months, especially in a low-resource setting.
Objectives: To determine the prevalence of breastfeeding for previously hospitalized neonates at least 6 months post-discharge and examine the factors associated with successful breastfeeding.
Methods and study design: This is a prospective study. Mothers were eligible if their infant(s) had been admitted to Neonatal Units within the first 7 days of life. General demographic data and maternal perception scores were collected during admission. Telephone interviews on feeding practices were conducted every 2 months until 6 months post-discharge or at discontinuation of breastfeeding.
Results: Of 87 mothers who completed follow-up, 91%, 71% and 57% were breastfeeding at 2, 4 and 6 months, respectively. The main reasons for discontinuation were maternal perceptions of insufficient milk supply and difficulty in returning to work. Mothers being the main caregivers, above-average family income and maternal perception on breastfeeding benefits and barriers were significant factors for successful breastfeeding for 6 months.
Conclusions: Strategies to encourage breastfeeding are needed for all mothers who return to work and especially for low-income families.