Barriers to early initiation of breastfeeding in healthy neonates in an urban hospital setting

Document Type



Family Medicine (East Africa); Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa); Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)



Breastfeeding is a key intervention to improve global targets on nutrition, health and survival. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends early initiation of breastfeeding to prevent infections in the newborn and achieve targets of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Early initiation of breastfeeding improves neonatal-maternal bonding, reduces jaundice and prevents gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infections. Global prevalence of early initiation of breastfeeding is 45% and 51% for Tanzania. The recommended prevalence is at least 80% by WHO guidelines.

Objective To explore barriers to early initiation of breastfeeding in a hospital setting.

Methods A descriptive exploratory qualitative study with semi-structured individual interviews was employed to explore the barriers to early initiation of breastfeeding in a hospital setting. Three midwives and six mothers were interviewed. The interview topic guide covered experiences and challenges of early initiation of breastfeeding. Data was analyzed using Systematic Text Condensation as described by Malterud.

Results Participants perceived that inadequate breastfeeding information especially on ideal time to start breastfeeding contributed to delayed initiation. The practices and environment post-delivery such as perineal tear repair and dirty labor room prevented women from initiating breastfeeding immediately.

Conclusions The barriers identified were related to gaps in knowledge, immediate postpartum practices and individual perceptions of a non-conducive environment.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.