Background: Both breastfeeding intentions and exposure to baby-friendly hospital practices have been associated with a longer duration of breastfeeding. This study aims to examine the effect of exposure to baby-friendly hospital practices on mothers’ achievement of their planned duration of breastfeeding.
Methods: A total of 1011 mother-newborn pairs from the postpartum units of four public hospitals in Hong Kong were recruited. Sociodemographic data and breastfeeding intention data were collected via self-report questionnaires during the postnatal hospitalization and exposure to Baby-Friendly hospital practices were assessed through hospital records and maternal self-report. Breastfeeding status after hospital discharge was assessed through telephone follow-up for up to 12 months postpartum, or until participants were no longer breastfeeding.
Results: Only 55% (n=552) of study participants achieved their intended duration of breastfeeding. Participants with higher socioeconomic status, previous breastfeeding experience, and those who had lived in Hong Kong for less than 5 years, were more likely to achieve their planned duration of breastfeeding. Among baby-friendly hospital practices, feeding only breast milk during the hospitalization and providing information about breastfeeding support on discharge were associated with participants’ achieving their individual breastfeeding intentions. After adjustment, when compared with women who experienced 0 - 1 baby-friendly practice, participants who experienced six baby-friendly hospital practices were significantly more likely to achieve their planned duration of breastfeeding (adjusted odds ratio=8.45, 95% confidence interval 3.03 – 23.6).
Conclusions: Nearly half of participants did not achieve their planned breastfeeding duration. Exposure to baby-friendly hospital practices, especially in-hospital exclusive breastfeeding and providing breastfeeding support information upon hospital discharge may help more mothers to achieve their individual breastfeeding goals.