Factors influencing high socio-economic class mothers’ decision regarding formula feeding practices in the Cape Metropole

Bester, Marwyn (2006-03)

Thesis (MNutr (Human Nutrition))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


Objective: To identify the reasons why high socio-economic class women in the Cape Metropole decide not to breastfeed; to identify the factors that influence the decision-making process when deciding which infant formula to feed the infant aged 0–6 months of age and to evaluate whether the type and volume of infant formula selected by the mother is appropriate for the infant’s needs. Method: The study was conducted as an observational descriptive study and consecutive sampling was used. Data was collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire that was available both in Afrikaans and English. Both open and closed ended questions were included. A Likert scale comprising four possible answers was used to determine attitude. Results: A total of 55 utilizable questionnaires were obtained. The majority of the mothers decided only after the birth of their infant to rather opt for formula feeding. Evident factors that were identified as a barrier to breastfeeding include a lack of knowledge and experience as well as a lack of facilities at public places and at work to breastfeed. Perceived benefits of infant formula included that the father could help with the workload and thus the father does not feel left out if the mother is breastfeeding, the mother knows what volume of infant formula the infant receives and it is more convenient if she is working. The mothers were overall not concerned about possible side effects of breastfeeding e.g. leaking and engorgement and did not feel that their breasts were physically not of optimal physiology e.g. too small or too large to be able to breastfeed. Conclusion: Numerous internal as well as external factors influence high socio-economic class women in the Cape Metropole when they decide whether to breastfeed or formula feed their infants. The identified barriers to breastfeeding will have to be addressed in this population in order to reach the WHO/UNICEF recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding up to the age of 6 months, and thereafter breastfeeding up to 2 years of age with the introduction of appropriate complementary foods.

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