Background: The success of breastfeeding promotion is influenced by maternal factors. Therefore, it is vital to examine the influence of basic maternal demographic factors on breastfeeding practices.
Objective: To determine the influence of maternal socio-demographic factors on the initiation and exclusivity of breastfeeding.
Method: A cross-sectional survey of mothers of children aged from 1 to 24 months attending a Nigerian Infant Welfare Clinic was conducted. Respondents were grouped according to age, parity, education, occupation, sites of antenatal care and delivery. These groups were compared for breastfeeding indices using bivariate and multivariate analysis.
Results: All the 262 respondents breastfed their children. The exclusive breastfeeding rate was 33.3% for children aged 0-3 months, 22.2% for children aged 4-6 months and 19.4% for children aged 7-24 months at the time of the study. Significantly higher proportions of mothers with at least secondary education, clinic-based antenatal care and delivery in health facilities initiated breastfeeding within 1 h of birth, avoided pre-lacteal feeding and practiced exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Maternal age and parity did not confer any advantage on breastfeeding practices. Delivery of children outside health facilities strongly contributed to delayed initiation of breastfeeding (P < 0.001), pre-lacteal feeding (P = 0.003) and failure to breastfeed exclusively (P = 0.049). Maternal education below secondary level strongly contributed to pre-lacteal feeding (P = 0.004) and failure to practice exclusive breastfeeding (P = 0.008).
Conclusion: Low maternal education and non-utilization of orthodox obstetric facilities impairs early initiation and exclusivity of breastfeeding.