Mine did not breastfeed”, mothers’ experiences in breastfeeding children aged 0 to 24 months with oral clefts in Uganda

Abstract Background Appropriate breastfeeding is vital for infant and young child nutrition. Annually, oral clefts affect 0.73 per 1000 children in Uganda. Despite this low incidence, children with a cleft face breastfeeding difficulty which affect their nutrition status. In addition, knowledge on maternal experiences with breastfeeding and support is limited. We explored maternal perceptions, experiences with breastfeeding and support received for their children 0 to 24 months with a cleft attending Comprehensive Rehabilitative Services of Uganda (CoRSU) Hospital. Methods This cross-sectional study combined quantitative and qualitative methods. We consecutively recruited 32 mothers of children with a cleft aged 0 to 24 months attending CoRSU hospital between April and May 2018. A structured questionnaire collected data on breastfeeding practices and device use ( n  = 32). To gain a broad understanding of mothers’ perceptions and experiences with breastfeeding and support received, we conducted two Focus Group Discussions (in each, n  = 5), and 15 In Depth Interviews. Descriptive statistics were analyzed using SPSS software. Qualitative data were analyzed thematically. Results Of the 32 children with a cleft, 23(72%) had ever breastfed, 14(44%) were currently breastfeeding, and among those under 6 months, 7(35%) exclusively breastfed. Of 25 mothers interviewed in IDIs and FGDs, 17(68%; IDIs = 8/15, FGD1 = 5/5 and FGD2 = 4/5) reported the child’s failure to latch and suckle as barriers to breastfeeding. All ten mothers who used the soft squeezable bottle reported improved feeding. Nineteen (76%) mothers experienced anxiety and 14(56%), social stigma. Family members, communities and hospitals supported mothers with feeding guidance, money, child’s feeds and psycho-social counselling. Appropriate feeding and psycho-social support were only available at a specialized hospital which delayed access. Conclusions Breastfeeding practices were sub-optimal. Mothers experienced breastfeeding difficulties, anxiety and social stigma. Although delayed, feeding, social and psycho-social support helped mothers cope. Routine health care for mothers and their children with a cleft should include timely support.
Breastfeeding, Experiences, Children, Cleft lip, Cleft palate, Support
Nabatanzi, Maureen, Gloria Kimuli Seruwagi, Florence Basiimwa Tushemerirwe, et al. '"Mine did Not Breastfeed", Mothers' Experiences in Breastfeeding Children Aged 0 to 24 months with Oral Clefts in Uganda', BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, vol. 21/no. 1, (2021), pp. 100-100.