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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Breast Feeding Practices in Rural Lucknow

Author(s): Reema Verma, Uday Mohan, V.K. Srivastava, Sujata

Vol. 31, No. 2 (2006-04 - 2006-06)


WHO and other international agencies has recommended that mother should breast feed the children exclusively for 4-6 month from birth and continue breast feeding along with appropriate supplemental food up to second year1,2. Breast feeding should be initiated within an hour of birth instead of waiting several hours as is often customary. Although there is little milk at that time, it helps to establish feeding and a close mother - child relationship, known as " bonding".

A community based study was conducted in the area of Experimental Teaching Health Sub Centres, Mati and Banthra under the Rural Health Training Centre, Sarojini Nagar, Department of community Medicine, K, G. Medical University, Lucknow. 200 lactating mothers were interviewed using a pre tested proforma to collect information regarding sociodemographic characteristics, current feeding practices, time of initiation of breast feeding and colostrum given to the newborns.

Only 27% mothers started breast feeding their infants within 24 hours of birth. Many mothers (35%) gave honey with water or goat and cow milk for 24 hours followed by honey and water only (30%) while 8.0% of the mothers did not gave any thing to their infant in first 24 hours. However, there were very few mothers (4.0%) who initiated breast feeding within an hour of birth.

Eighteen percent on second day while 55.0% initiated breast feeding on third day or more. In the study group 35.0% mothers gave colostrum to their new born. Colostrum feeding is not associated with literacy status of mothers (p>0.05).

Among class III only 6.4% initiated breast feeding within an hour and 2.7% from social class IV & V initiated breast feeding early. Majority of mothers a (42.5%) who gave colostrum belong to class III while 27.2% mothers from class I & II gave colostrum. There was a significant association of social economic status and colostrurn given to infant (P < 0.05).

The Baby Friendly Hospital initiative launched by UNICEF recommends initiation of breast feeding immediately after child birth. The WHO and UNICEF recommend that infants should be given only breast milk for about the first 6 months of their life. Under the Reproductive and Child Health Programme, the Govt. of India recommend that infants should be exclusively breast fed from birth to 6 months (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare)3 . According to NFHS-2, 14.8 percent mothers started breast feeding within 1 hour of birth in rural areas, while in study group only 4% mothers initiated breast feeding within one hour of delivery4.

The custom of squeezing the first milk from the breast before breast feeding a child is widely practiced in India, but it is more common in rural area, illiterate mothers, low to medium standard of living. According to NFHS-2 percentage whose mother squeezed first milk from breast in rural area is 64% while in study group it is 65%4.

The practice of pre lacteal feeds should be discouraged because, firstly the baby gets no nourishment during the first two days, and secondly due to the baby not sucking the breast, the stimulus to milk, production is delayed.


  1. Sachdev HPS, Chaudhary P Nutrition in Children - Developing country concern. Chapter-5, 1995 79-8.
  2. World Health Organisation / UNICEF: Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breast feeding; Florence, Italy, August 1990.
  3. UNICEF: Children & Development in the 1990 World Submit for Children, New York 1990.
  4. National Family Health Survey-(NFHS-2) - India, Key findings, International Institute for Population Sciences, Deonar, Mumbai 1998-99.

Department of Community Medicine,
K.G. Medical University, Lucknow- 226003
Received: 13.10.2004

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