Influence Of Maternal Nutrition On The Exclusive Breastfeeding Of Infants

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The researcher investigated the effects of maternal nutrition on the exclusive breastfeeding of infants in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State. The purpose of the study was to find out the effects of maternal nutrition, socio-economic status, occupation, and perception on the exclusive breastfeeding of infants in Egor Local Government Area. To guide the study, four research questions were asked namely; what are the effects of maternal nutrition on the exclusive breastfeeding of infants? What are the relationship between maternal socio-economic status and the practice of exclusive breastfeeding? What are the effects of maternal occupation on the actualization of exclusive breastfeeding? What is the influence of maternal perception on the exclusive breastfeeding of infants? The findings revealed that maternal nutrition had insignificant effect on exclusive breastfeeding. That maternal health status was a huge socio-economic hindrance to the practice of exclusive breast feeding. That provision of baby friendly facilities at place of work for mothers to breastfeed their baby was an important occupational factor.

That giving of water and the belief that exclusive breastfeeding makes the breast become flabby and unattractive were perception held by nursing mothers. Based on these, it was concluded that maternal nutrition does not affect practice of exclusive breastfeeding in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State. Some recommendations were made   such that all hands should be on deck to increase the uptake of exclusive breastfeeding of infants, government and private enterprises should provide baby friendly facilities at their place of work for mothers to breastfeed their baby exclusively, maternal health status should be paramount to everyone as the health of their infant is tied to the mother.



Background to the Study

Through the course of human history, the feeding of the new born has puzzled man. A lot has been written about what is more beneficial for the growth and wellbeing of the child, mostly outlining breastfeeding’s pivotal role (Papastavrou, 2014).           The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life, from six months onwards, continued breastfeeding combined with complementary foods of good quality and in the right quantity for two years is recommended.           Exclusive breastfeeding means that the child only receives breast milk, and if necessary the addition of vitamins, minerals and medicine for the first six months of life. The (WHO) recommendation applies to all countries and populations regardless of economic status or developmental level.

Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both the mother and the infant. Breast milk is not only a source of food but contains immune related components and various biologically active substances that contribute to efficient nutrient utilization and gives the child active and passive protection against infections. Breast milk provides all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals an infant needs for growth for the first six months of life. Optimal breastfeeding practices in the first two years of life can have the single largest impact on child survival of all preventive interventions. Breast feeding provides many health benefits for the mother. These benefits includes more rapid recovery from childbirth, decreased postpartum bleeding, delayed return to fertility, reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancers, and less bladder and other infections.

In developing countries, and in Nigeria for instance, breastfeeding can be the difference between life and death for several reasons, including poor hygiene, prevalence of malaria and lack of safe drinking water. An exclusively breastfed child is less likely to die in the first six months than a non-exclusively breastfed child.           Adequate nutrition during early life is critical for cognitive, mental and physical development. This period ensures proper development and plays a significant role in lifelong health outcomes. Inadequate nutrition during pregnancy and the first two years of life can lead to irreversible limitation in the ability of a child to achieve his or her full potential. These outcomes may include delays mental development, reduced mental capacity, reduced school performance and working capacity and overall increased susceptibility to diseases and infections.

An undernourished child has an increased risk of dying from diarrhea, measles, malaria and pneumonia. The first 1000 days of life from conception through the first two years of life is often referred to as “window of opportunity” because of the profound positive effect optional nutrition can have on the developing child and due to the fact that damage during this period is often permanent and irreversible.           Human breast milk provides energy, nutrients and trace elements that are required by infants until weaning. During lactation, bone is mobilized and exerts influence on the availability of these macro-elements to the mineral poll that supply the mammary gland.           Kinsara 2006, posited that human breast milk composition is dependent on many maternal and gestational factors ranging from stage of lactation, maternal age, maternal nutritional status, diet, parity and gestational age.           A woman’s appetite increases during pregnancy and lactation, these results in increase in food intake. This occurs because the energy, protein and other nutrients in breast milk comes from the mothers’ diet or from her own body stores, so there is need for increased food intake to compensate for the demand of lactation.

In sub-Sahara Africa, many women suffer from chronic under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies and fail to gain enough weight during pregnancy. This could be traced to the low standard of living, unemployment and global economic recession and failure of government at all levels to provide for its citizens basic amenities. This has a great impact on the rate at which the young infant is breastfed.           In the present study, we will be looking at the effects of maternal nutrition on the actualization of exclusive breastfeeding. This research work will also be looking at other constraints that can cause the discontinuation of exclusive breastfeeding and also make recommendations on how to improve mothers’ adherence to the campaign on exclusive breastfeeding.

Statement of the Problem

The importance of exclusive breastfeeding cannot be overemphasized. Government at all levels and health practitioners have embarked on various health outreaches to encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of the infants life.

However, these intervention seems not to be yielding the desired results as there are several maternal factors that could hinder the continuation of exclusive breastfeeding which could range from maternal occupation, perception, socio-economic status etc. Therefore the present study aims at investigating the relationship between maternal nutrition, quality of life and exclusive breastfeeding in a sample of mothers from Egor Local Government Area of Edo State. Based on the problems, the following research questions are asked.

1.     What are the effects of maternal nutrition on exclusive breastfeeding of infants?

2.     What is the influence of maternal socio-economic status on the practice of exclusive breastfeeding?

3.     What are the effects of maternal occupation on the actualization of exclusive breastfeeding?

4.     What is the influence of maternal perception on exclusive breastfeeding?

Purpose of the Study

The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of maternal nutrition on exclusive breastfeeding. The study will also look at the influence of maternal socio-economic status, occupation and perception on the attainment of exclusive breastfeeding.

Significance of the Study

Inspite of government, Health practitioners and non-governmental organizations effort over the years, to sensitize the people of Egor Local Government Area through seminars, lectures, workshops and door to door campaign on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to both mother and child, little has been done in the area of research to ascertain if this outreach is yielding desired result in terms of attitudinal change of the people of the local government. Data are not readily available to show progress made or otherwise. This prompted the need for this research work. This study will also serves as a basis for more research work on the field of study.


The present study only deals with nursing mothers in Egor Local Government Area and also the use of questionnaire for data collection.

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