Background: Despite the proven effectiveness of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), its impact on community practices in Egypt has yet to be assessed. The aim of this investigation was to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes, and practice (KAP) of Egyptian mothers towards the Ten Steps. We interviewed 1,052 breastfeeding mothers with infants less than 24 months of age from 12 governorates representing Upper Egypt (UE) and Lower Egypt (LE).
Results: Marked regional variations are noted in the KAP of the samples from UE and LE. These differences can be explained to some extent by socioeconomic factors. Hospital delivery, lower parity, and a higher level of education were characteristic of mothers in LE compared with UE. More mothers in UE did not know about the protective effects of breastfeeding to the mother. In LE, 75% delayed breastfeeding initiation until after the first hour compared with 61% in UE, with the mothers reporting that they did not experience skin-to-skin care in the first hours after birth. Nipple pain was given as a cause for supplementation in 56% of mothers in UE and 36% in LE (p<0.001). Maintaining milk by expression is practiced by 42.8% of mothers in LE and 12% in UE. Two-thirds of the mothers in both UE and LE offer herbal drinks, and one-third feed infant milk formula before 6 months. Offering pacifiers is more common in LE, and feeding by bottle is more common in UE, being pressured by the mother's social network.
Conclusions: To increase the impact of BFHI on community breastfeeding practices, BFHI should focus on involving the family members with the mother throughout the implementation of the Ten Steps while encouraging maternal support groups and taking cultural differences into account.