Objective: To analyze the pattern of breastfeeding in mothers, identify causes of failure to breastfeed, initiate, and sustain breastfeeding practices at a University Hospital in Western Saudi Arabia.
Methods: Prospective interviews with mothers of infants seen consecutively during routine well baby clinic visits were conducted in the year October 2001 through to September 2002 using structured 18 item questionnaires. This study was carried out at King Abdul-Aziz University Hospital, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Results: One hundred and twenty-eight interviews were conducted. Of the study groups 106 (83%) were breastfeeding. Of the mothers who came from low income families and no university education the figure was 90 (70%). Only 72 (56%) mothers had some form of health education regarding infant feed and most of the education came from relatives. Fourteen (10.9%) mothers reported encouragement to breastfeeding by medical personnel. Early discharge home from the newborn nursery at less than 24 hours age was significantly associated with success in establishing breastfeeding (p<0.047). Breastfeeding rates were 90% for infants in the first 6 months of life, but dropped to 72% afterwards. The reasons given for switching to formula feeding, in the order of frequency: inadequate milk supply (50%), working mothers (12.7%) and life style (10%). Mothers who were breast feeding were significantly more satisfied with their feeding practice than those whom were bottle feeding (p<0.05).
Conclusion: The most significant factor precluding initiation of breastfeeding was late discharge from the nursery, while the most common obstacle to sustaining breastfeeding was the misconception of mothers regarding adequacy of milk supply. Intervention targeted at adoption of baby friendly nursery atmospheres and promotions of health education are economically feasible in the community.