Barriers To Breastfeeding Study (1) — sankalpa supported activity
projects

Barriers to Breastfeeding Study

Kilifi County, Kenya

With the knowledge that suboptimal infant feeding contributes to 800,000 child deaths per year globally, Barriers to Breastfeeding was a focused ethnographic study of first time mothers in a rural coastal community in Kilifi County, Kenya.

The gathered data is currently being used to raise awareness of the lack of breastfeeding support for mothers, at a local level, in Kenya. The study findings, which also provided an additional body of knowledge in relation to young people’s daily lives in sub-Saharan Africa, have been shared with relevant academic communities.

Supporting Barriers to Breastfeeding

sankalpa funded the research costs of a two year study, support which enabled Dr Alison Talbert to undertake a detailed holistic examination of young mothers’ autonomy and choices in infant feeding.

Conducted between 2016-18 — the study followed twenty mothers from late pregnancy until their babies were six months old, focusing on the challenges encountered in following nutrition advice to breastfeed only. Through visiting mothers in their homes and observing their interaction with other family members, Dr Talbert developed an in-depth understanding of the drivers and barriers related to exclusive breastfeeding.

sankalpa has enabled an in-depth investigation of the contextual factors which will need to be considered in any local interventions to prevent malnutrition and child deaths. 

It is hard to find funding for this kind of research from major donors who are more interested in large scale projects.

Alison Talbert, paediatrician

Study Findings

The first paper of the findings has been published in the International Breastfeeding Journal and a further paper is being prepared for publication. The findings have also been presented at a workshop at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and at a seminar at The KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme.

Although community feedback has been delayed due to the impact of Covid-19, as of June 2020 the research has been shared in a number of other ways. In addition to visiting 80 households to talk with both mothers and grandmothers, Dr Talbert has shared the results with the sub-county health management team, community leaders and representatives. 

Dr Talbert has also worked with the local health facility — enabling them to show instructional videos on breastfeeding during mother and child clinics. Post Covid, the clinic plans to hold regular open days with the community where correct breastfeeding positioning and attachment will be demonstrated.

The study has provided an additional body of knowledge in relation to young people’s daily lives in sub-Saharan Africa and the gathered data is being used to raise awareness of the lack of breastfeeding support for mothers at a local level in Kenya.

Exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age is recommended by the World Health Organisation as the optimal mode of infant feeding, providing adequate nutrition for the baby and protection against infectious diseases. 

Breastfeeding can be adversely affected by individual, cultural and socio-economic factors. The study aimed to explore barriers of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life among first-time mothers in rural Kenya.

Dr Alison Talbert, paediatrician
Barriers To Breastfeeding Study (1) — sankalpa supported activity

Continued Impact

Today Dr Talbert is still attached to The KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi. Her work involves developing interventions to prevent malnutrition in infants under six months, alongside community management of uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition (in children of the same age) and nutritionally vulnerable mothers.

Barriers To Breastfeeding Study (2) — sankalpa supported activity
Barriers To Breastfeeding Study (4) — sankalpa supported activity
Barriers To Breastfeeding Study (5) — sankalpa supported activity
Barriers To Breastfeeding Study (6) — sankalpa supported activity

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