Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the maternity care factors associated with exclusive breastfeeding duration at three months and six months postpartum in a setting without BFHI accrediation.
Methods: A prospective cohort design. Participants from one tertiary maternity hospital were eligible if they intended to exclusively breastfeed, had birthed a live, term baby; were breastfeeding at recruitment; were rooming-in with their baby; were healthy and well; and understood English. Participants completed an infant feeding survey using 24-h recall questions at three time-points. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, bivariate analysis and regression modelling.
Findings: We recruited 424 participants of whom 84% (n = 355) responded to the survey at 3-months and 79% (n = 335) at 6-months. Women who avoided exposure to intrapartum opioid analgesia (e.g. intramuscular, intraveous or epidural) were more likely to be exclusively breastfeeding at 3-months postpartum (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 2.09, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.15–3.80, probability value (p) 0.016). The only other modifiable predictor of exclusive breastfeeding at 3-months was non-exposure to artificial formula on the postnatal ward (aOR 2.44, 95% CI 1.43–4.18, p < 0.001). At 6-months postpartum, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding had reduced to 5% (n = 16) which rendered regression modelling untenable.
Discussion: Strategies to decrease exposure to opioid analgesia in birth settings and the use of infant formula on the postnatal ward may improve exclusive breastfeeding at three months.
Conclusion: Results suggest that both intrapartum and postpartum maternity care practices can predict long-term breastfeeding success.