BREASTFEEDING: MOTHERS AND HEALTH PRACTITIONERS
IN THE CONTEXT OF PRIVATE MEDICAL CARE IN GAUTENG

Background

Breastfeeding is preferred for all infants, and exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the rst six months after birth. The importance and bene ts of breastfeeding to both mother and infant are well known and documented. Exclusive breastfeeding for the rst six months of life offers important bene ts on the infant and the mother: superior nutritional content, enhanced immunological status of the newborn, strengthening of the mother–infant relationship, delayed ovulation and economic savings (Hillenbrand & Larsen 2002:e59). 

Literature Review

Throughout most of the 20th century, initiation and duration of breastfeeding declined worldwide, as a result of rapid social and economic change, urbanisation and marketing of breast milk substitutes. In recent years the global trend has shifted towards improved breastfeeding practices (WHO/UNICEF, 2003).

However, the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding and other optimal infant feeding practices is still low in many countries. In many developing countries certain cultural beliefs and outdated hospital practices continue to interfere with optimal breastfeeding.

The Baby-Friendly-Hospital Initiative launched in 1991, has made a significant impact on breastfeeding practices globally through implementation of the ‘Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding’, focusing on maternity services and newborn care.

Purpose of the Research

The lack of breastfeeding knowledge on the part of new mothers suggests a paucity of quality of breastfeeding services for these clients. Therefore, in order to understand the constraints to breastfeeding, the purpose of this study was to assess the breastfeeding information given to pregnant women by health professionals in private practice.