Expression and storage of breastmilk is a strategy that ensures continued breast milk consumption in the event of temporary separation of an infant from the mother. However, many studies show that working mothers are unable to exclusively breastfeed for six months successfully. Working mothers are forced to wean early because of minimal support at the workplace, lack of knowledge on breast milk expression and lack of storage facilities. The 2017 Kenya Health Act mandates employers to provide lactation rooms for facilitation of breast milk expression in support of the lactating mother. This study analyses the knowledge attitude and practice of breast milk expression among working women in Kenya.
This was a cross sectional study done between December 2018 and February 2019. Study participants were 395 working women with infants aged six months and below, attending well baby clinics in two large public hospitals in Nairobi Kenya. A structured questionnaire with open and closed ended questions was used to establish the knowledge and practice while a Likert scale was used to explore attitudes of the mothers towards expression and storage of breast milk.
Overall satisfactory knowledge on breast milk expression and storage was attained by only 34% of working mothers. Eighty four percent positively agreed that expression and storage of breast milk would help them achieve six months of exclusive breastfeeding. Challenges experienced were breast pain and cumbersome nature of expressing milk. Only 41% (161) were expressing breast milk either regularly or occasionally. The most common reason (24.7%) for expressing milk was to enable someone else feed the baby when they were at work. Most mothers (77%) expressed at home as the workplace did not seem to provide adequate equipment to facilitate breastmilk expression and storage.
There is a substantial knowledge gap on expression and storage of breast milk. Working mothers have a good attitude towards attainment of exclusive breast milk feeding through expression of breast milk. The workplace does not have adequate facilities to support expression and storage of breast milk.