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Factors influencing exclusive breastfeeding in Kenya

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Lots of research has been done on the factors that influence exclusive breastfeeding EBF in Kenya. The Ministry of Health as well as other bodies have done lots of work in coming up with the breastfeeding policy in Kenya.

In this article, we will be exploring some of them as well as look at what is hindering EBF in Kenya.

Factors affecting exclusive breastfeeding rates in Kenya


Working mothers are likely to leave their kids at home with a nanny and get back to work without having exclusively breastfed their babies. At the working place, some will be able to express themselves while others might not be able to do so because of lack of lactation rooms at the workplaces.

When such happens, most working mothers will end up giving formula milk to their babies or other solid foods.

Research done in Kenya has shown that working mothers are less likely to exclusively breastfeed their babies as compared to the non-employed ones.


A mother’s diet will determine whether she has enough milk to feed her baby. For women who want to improve their milk let down in Kenya, they should seriously consider going for the traditional African foods.

These include the fermented ground porridge and njahi of the Kikuyu people, the saga of the Gusii, omena of the Luo, seveve and mursik of the Kalenjin while the Luhya have their mrenda.


When stressed out or sickly, a woman will not be able to exclusively breastfeed her baby since she will not have a good milk letdown.

Fashion and mothers image

Some women feel that breastfeeding their babies will have their boobs drooping or that it will have a negative image on them. This is misinformed because breasts will droop whether one breastfeeds or not.

At the same time, some women who get post delivery trauma might not want to see their babies or have anything to do with breastfeeding them. They will therefore not want to exclusively breastfeed them but have them on formula milk or other foods.

Other women will feel that breastfeeding inhibits their fashion. However, this should not be the case because one can still look trendy even when wearing some good breastfeeding dresses.

Socio-economic factors of the mother

Wealthy and urban women might feel that exclusively breastfeeding her baby makes her come out as a commoner and uncouth. To save face therefore, she decides to hire a wet nurse or use formula milk instead of breastfeeding her baby.

Factors hindering exclusive breastfeeding in Kenya

Here are some factors that are hindering the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding in Kenya.

  • Lack of proper nutrition to the mother

  • Lack of education on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to the baby and mother as well

  • A workplace environment that is hostile to breastfeeding mothers and the fact that employers have a non-compliance tendency towards the breastfeeding policies that have been placed by the government.

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