Introduction: The UNICEF (United Nations International Children Education Fund) and WHO (World Health Organization) recommend exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for the first six months of life. EBF is considered to be an important practice for enhancing infant health and wellbeing. Breastfeeding offers a wide range of psychological and physical health benefits in the long-term and short-term for young children, infants, and mothers. This study aims to compare exclusive breastfeeding practice among primiparous and multiparous mothers including reasons for discontinuing exclusive breastfeeding and problems faced during breastfeeding.
Methodology: This cross-sectional study was conducted in rural areas of Sindh, registered with the Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR). The study used a systematic sampling technique for the enrollment of study participants. A survey questionnaire was used to collect data from mothers about the practices of EBF. A total of 397 mothers were interviewed and analyzed.
Results: Among Primiparous mothers, 14.1% of mothers initiated breastfeeding within one hour of birth, while 22.4% of multiparous mothers, initiated breastfeeding within one hour of birth. The difference between the two is statistically insignificant (p-value=0.234). A high percentage of multiparous mothers exclusively breastfed their infants for six months (63.5%) as compared to primiparous mothers (51.5%). The most common reason for introducing pre-lacteal feed before six months among primiparous mothers is the lack of adequate milk production to fulfill baby needs; this was the case for 35.4% of mothers. On the other hand, the baby remaining hungry post breastfeeding was the major reason among multiparous mothers (44.0%) for introducing pre-lacteal feed before six months.
Conclusion: This study helped in the identification of issues faced by primiparous and multiparous mothers during exclusive breastfeeding. Interventions for promoting EBF need to be tailored as per the need and challenges of the population.