Over the last couple of decades, there has been an increasing interest in the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding as the ‘best’ feeding method for newborns. This, to a large extent, has been inspired by mounting scientific evidence on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in reducing infant morbidity and mortality. In resource limited settings where poor and suboptimal breastfeeding practices frequently result to child malnutrition which is a major cause of more than half of all child deaths (Sokolet al., 2007), exclusive breastfeeding is regarded as imperative for infants’ survival. Indeed, of the 6.9 million under five children who were reported dead globally in 2011, an estimated 1 million lives could have been saved by simple and accessible practices such as exclusive breastfeeding (WHO, 2012). Consequently, the WHO and UNICEF (1990) have recommended exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by introduction of complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for 24 months or more.
In Ghana, an estimated 84% of children younger than2 months are being exclusively breastfed. By age 4 to 5 months, however, only 49% continue to receive exclusive breastfeeding (Ghana Statistical Service & ICF Macro, 2009 ). In order to understand the dynamics of the practice, several studies have been conducted in Ghana and in many parts of the world. Much of these studies have focused on factors and barriers to exclusive breastfeeding (Aidamet al. 2005; Otoo et al. 2009; Senarathet al. 2010). Some too have looked at the health outcomes of exclusive and non exclusive breastfeeding (Duncan et al. 2009; Coutsoudiset al.,1999; Kramer, 2003); while others have also studied the potential role of husbands in breastfeeding decisions (Aroraet al.,2000; Susin, et al. 2008). Much less attempts however, have been made at investigating how the family might influence exclusive breastfeeding practices especially in sub Saharan Africa. This thesis is thus an Endeavour to meet the current knowledge gaps.
In Nigeria, nearly all mother stint breast feeding and continue until 21 months an average, but only 1% of infants are exclusively breast fed for the first six months and this rate did not change between 1992 and 2005 (Kourgueriet al, 1993).
Exclusive Breast Feeding (E.B.F) is rare for a variety of reasons related to both mothers and their environment, including service delivered by health professional (HP) (Lutter,2000), some studies have shown that health professionals (HP) play an important role in the mother’s decisions and practices (Loschet al.,1995) it is well known that support and counseling from health care provider can improve breasting rates as well as early initiation and total duration of breast feeding, and make mother more confident (Heirmenicket al., 1998).