Monitoring Mothers Support Groups to improve the quality of support for breastfeeding

Session: Nutrition Across the Continuum of Care for Maternal and Newborn Health

Presenter: Betty Samburu, Kenya Ministry of Health
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Background: A twofold increase in exclusive breastfeeding was documented from 2008/09 (32%) to 2014 (61%), at the national level in Kenya. Creative and innovative approaches to communicate nutrition messages to women at the community level can strengthen immediate and exclusive breastfeeding practices. Community Support Groups (CSGs), comprised of mothers and other key influencers, were part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) in Igembe North, Kenya. CSG gatherings offer an opportunity to socialize, exchange ideas, and to learn healthy infant and young child nutrition (IYCN) behaviors through the Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI). A CSG Assessment was conducted to ascertain the effectiveness of the community support groups on IYCN knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) among attenders and non-attenders of support groups.

Methodology:  KAP interviews were conducted with mothers of children 0-23 months of age attending the CSGs (N= 53) and non-attenders of CSGs (N= 50) in Igembe North. Through purposeful selection, 15 of the 25 CSGs participated in the assessment.

Results:  Mothers who attended CSGs were more likely to attend more than three ANC visits (63% vs 38%) and to deliver in health facilities (86% vs. 51%), than non-attenders. Mothers who were actively involved in support groups had improvements in knowledge of both initiation of breastfeeding within the first one hour of birth, and non-use of prelacteal feeds. Attenders noted being better equipped to resolve any breastfeeding problems in comparison with non-attenders. Most non-attenders had shorter duration of exclusive breastfeeding and tended to introduce complementary foods early, prior to 6 months of age.

Conclusions: Community support groups offer a platform for mothers and influencers of IYCN to strengthen and further improve immediate and exclusive breastfeeding practices.