Background: Although most health facilities in urban Nigeria are privately owned, interventions to promote optimal breastfeeding practices in private facilities have not previously been implemented.
Objectives: We tested the impact of a breastfeeding promotion intervention on early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding among clients of private facilities in Lagos, Nigeria.
Methods: The intervention included training for health-care providers on the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and breastfeeding counseling skills, provision of interpersonal communication and support to women at facilities and on WhatsApp, distribution of behavior change communication materials, and mobile phone and mass media messaging. We used logistic regression models adjusted for clustering to measure intervention impact in a cohort of women (n = 1200) at 10 intervention and 10 comparison facilities interviewed during their third trimester and at 6 and 24 weeks postpartum.
Results: The intervention significantly increased the percentage of infants who were exclusively breastfed at 6 weeks (83% intervention; 76% comparison; P = 0.02) and 24 weeks (66% intervention; 52% comparison; P < 0.001), but had no impact on early initiation of breastfeeding (35% intervention; 33% comparison; P = 0.65). Among infants who were exclusively breastfed at 6 weeks, the odds of continued exclusive breastfeeding at 24 weeks were higher in the intervention arm than in the comparison arm (OR, 1.6; 95% CI: 1.2-2.1). Infants had increased odds of being exclusively breastfed at 6 weeks if their mothers discussed breastfeeding with a private health provider (OR, 2.3; 95% CI: 1.5-3.4), received text or WhatsApp messages about breastfeeding (OR, 1.7; 95% CI: 1.0-2.7), or heard breastfeeding radio spots (OR, 4.2; 95% CI: 1.2-14.7). Infants had increased odds of exclusive breastfeeding at 24 weeks if their mothers participated in a WhatsApp breastfeeding support group (OR, 1.5; 95% CI: 1.0-2.2).
Conclusions: A breastfeeding intervention in private health facilities in Lagos increased exclusive breastfeeding. Implementation of breastfeeding interventions in private facilities could extend the reach of breastfeeding promotion programs in urban Nigeria. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT04835051.