Effect of nutrition education upon primigravidas' election for and duration of breast feeding



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Texas Tech University


Human milk is the best food for the normal infant. The technique of breast feeding provides advantages for the infant and the mother. Nutrition education about infant feeding is needed to increase the incidence and duration of breast feeding.

Primigravida and postpartum mothers were studied to identify the effect of intervention with nutrition education about infant feeding by a dietitian in prenatal classes with primigravida. Two groups, 135 primigravida and 101 postpartum mothers, completed separate questionnaires. The effectiveness of information about infant feeding was determined by the source of information, the content of information received, the decision about a method of infant feeding and the duration of breast feeding, if chosen.

The source of information about infant feeding was significantly different (p < 0.001) between the two groups. Primigravidas, who participated in nutrition classes, listed dietitian to a greater extent as the source of information than did the postpartum mothers (10.4 percent difference). Both groups listed doctor and books as sources of information.

The content of information was significantly different (p<0.0001) between the primigravida who participated in classes and the postpartum mothers who did not. Primigravida stated that they knew more breast feeding facts, while postpartum mothers reported needing more information on feeding skills. Primigravida participants in the study selected breast feeding, significantly more (p < 0.001) than the postpartum group. Their reasons for the decision related to the nutritional value of breast feeding. The duration of breast feeding was planned for six months or longer by both groups.

Dietitians are trained to explain the science of the breast feeding process and the nutritional advantages of breast milk. Dietitians have the counseling skills to work with lactating mothers. Working with other health care professionals, dietitians are qualified to provide leadership for advocating breast feeding in health care settings and in the community.