Dr. Modi Al Otaibi
National Guard Program – Riyadh 2008/2009
Objectives: To explore the pattern of breastfeeding in working and non-working mothers and the factors specifically related to work and breastfeeding.
Methodology: A cross-sectional survey was carried out at well baby clinic and employee health clinic in King Abdulaziz Medical City and well baby clinic at Health Care Specialties Clinic (HCSC), Riyadh city, Saudi Arabia, from June to December, 2008. Nearly 200 questionnaires were filled out by the mothers and by face to face interview. Questions on demographic data for mothers and children, pattern of breastfeeding, support from family, working hours, maternity leave, change in work shift, availability of lactation room at work place were included.
Results: The non-working mothers were 3.6 times more likely to be breastfeeding their children when compared to the working mothers (p <.001). The working mothers were more likely to bottle- feed their child than non-working mothers and less likely to breastfeed (p <.05). Nearly 50% of the women were not breastfeeding their infants after 7 months of age. Over two-thirds were not breastfeeding when the child was between 7-18 months and only 12% continues to breastfeed after the child was 18 months old (p <.001). Among the working mothers as the age of the child goes beyond 6 months, the breastfeeding drops from 45% to less than 10%. (p<.002). Working mothers were less likely to get encouragement from their husbands to breastfeed (p <.001). Women working 7 hours or less were more likely to breastfeed than those working 9 hours daily (p .002). However if the mother took breastfeeding breaks at work, it helped current breastfeeding (p .036). In addition, the ability to take breastfeeding breaks was strongly related to facilitation by the employer (p <.001).
Conclusion: Breastfeeding is poor in both working and non-working mothers. Work has a negative impact on breastfeeding pattern, however, lesser working hours, breastfeeding breaks and support from employers may help in restoring some breastfeeding patterns.