UBD students see scope to promote breastfeeding

National 3 minutes, 32 seconds


TWO Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) students see more scope to encourage mothers to excusively breastfeed their babies in the first year after their birth.

They said this in a presentation at the 9th Malaysia-Indonesia-Brunei Darussalam Medical Sciences Conference 2015 on Thursday.

In the presentation, Alicia Poh Wan Yan, 22, who is studying for a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Medicine), said they came to this conclusion based on statistics gleaned from Brunei National Health and Nutritional Status Survey (NHANSS).

According to the survey, the percentage of mothers breastfeeding from the first hour of birth to the first 12 months of birth falls from over 98 per cent to less than 40 per cent as the one-year mark approaches.

She added that the NHANSS survey also shows that in the first three months after birth, only 40 per cent of mothers in Brunei practice exclusive breastfeeding of their babies.

“This means that there is still a need to further encourage all mothers to breastfeed exclusively. So as part of our university project (done in the middle of last year), my group mates and I organised a breastfeeding motivational session last year,” she said.

Alicia said that the session held last year aimed to emphasise the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for six months, identify the mothers’ concerns as well as address the issues that may arise during breastfeeding.

“We also explored the reasons behind non-compliance and encourage the support of family members especially husbands.”

Last year’s session was held at the Gadong Maternal and Child Health Clinic, one of the largest catchment areas in Brunei.

“We targeted antenatal mothers along with their partners and this included first-time mothers and mothers who previously failed to breastfeed.”

“We invited 16 mothers and 11 mothers and seven husbands attended.”

Before the session, Alicia said they identified few possible factors that could contribute to the low rate of exclusive breastfeeding in Brunei.

“We found that firstly it’s because of the lack of knowledge; mothers without knowledge would be more vulnerable to challenges in breastfeeding and opt for the easier option which is formula milk.”

“Another factor that may contribute to the low rate of exclusive breastfeeding may be the lack of initiative from doctors or nurses.

“To have effective results we need all doctors and nurses to work together to remind mothers to attend breastfeeding classes or even ask how they are coping with breastfeeding,” she added.

“By addressing the mothers’ concerns, the mothers will be able to make good breastfeeding decisions.”

Some mothers are not aware of the existence of mother-to- mother breastfeeding support groups which are available at the clinics, she said.

She added that support from family members also played a fundamental role in the success of exclusive breastfeeding.

“Many husbands do not realise that they can contribute to breastfeeding such as helping with chores or providing emotional support.

“With the information, we planned the session. We started by distributing booklets and assessment forms which helps assess the level of understanding about breastfeeding.

“We also invited three mothers who previously failed to breastfeed and who successfully breastfed their babies to share their experiences.”

Alicia said that nurses were also invited to show correct breastfeeding techniques and effective latching.

“We then held a discussion and found that the major concern was insufficient milk supply.

“From the feedback forms we saw that many mothers were satisfied with the event and were more motivated to breastfeed as they realised that it is not uncommon to face problems during breasteeding.”

Alicia said that as a long-term effect of last year’s event, they managed to contact eight out of the 11 mothers that attended.

“Out of this number more than 15 per cent are still breastfeeding. This seems like a promising number.

“However the downside of the project was that it was only a one-day event, therefore a limited amount of information could be shared.

“Ideally we should have done regular sessions so that the mothers had enough time to fully acquire information shared during each session.”

She added that other than that local health professionals should be trained to become lactation consultants in Brunei instead of inviting consultants from overseas. “Even mothers from the support groups can be trained so they would be more confident in handling breastfeeding problems.”

The Brunei Times