International Research Journal of Public and Environmental Health
Vol.5 (3),pp. 38-45, March 2018
Available online at https://www.journalissues.org/IRJPEH/
Article 18/ID/JPRH013/08 pages
Author(s) retain the copyright of this article. Author(s) agree that this article remain permanently open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International License.
Original Research Article
After giving birth to a baby, breastfeeding becomes your responsibility: Infant feeding perceptions and practices among women in Yaoundé, Bamenda and Bandja, Cameroon, Africa
Léonie N Dapi1,2*, Ayuk Betrand Tambe3, Frida Axberg4, Linnéa Lundström4 and Agneta Hörnell4
1Department of Social Work, Linnaeus University, SE-351 95 Växjö, Sweden.
2Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde, Yaounde, Cameroon.
3Centre for Food and Nutritional Research, Institute of Medical Research and Medicinal Plant Studies, Yaounde, Cameroon.
4Department of Food and Nutrition, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
*Corresponding Author Email: dapileo(at)hotmail.com
The Ministry of Public Health of Cameroon advises mothers to follow the World Health Organization’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life and to continue breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years or beyond. Despite these recommendations, malnutrition due to inadequate feeding practices is still prevalent in Cameroon. Therefore, this study aims to explore infant feeding perceptions and identify factors influencing infant feeding practices in Cameroon. Forty-nine women aged 19 to 38 who had infants aged 6 days to 15 months were purposively selected from hospitals during the vaccination days and interviewed until saturation. The research tools included six qualitative group interviews, with each group comprising 6 to 10 women. The study was conducted in the rural area of Bandja and the urban areas of Yaoundé and Bamenda. Data were analysed using content analysis. In the study, breastfeeding was agreed upon as the best way to feed infants and was commonly practised for 1 to 2 years. Nevertheless, few infants were breastfed exclusively. Complementary foods were often nutritionally inadequate; many children were not given fruit, vegetables or foods of animal origin on a daily basis. Cultural beliefs, tradition, community norms and low educational and economic levels negatively influenced the implementation of appropriate infant feeding recommendations. The short duration of exclusive breastfeeding and the poor food diversity are the main problems. In response, it is necessary to strengthen the position of women, increase the period of maternal leave, introduce sustainable and practical education for both parents about breastfeeding, and provide good, local complementary foods.
Key words: Exclusive breastfeeding, malnutrition, feeding perceptions, Cameroon