Document Type


Source of Publication

International Journal of Women's Health

Publication Date



Introduction Despite the enormous benefits of breastfeeding, working mothers face more challenges to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations regarding successful breastfeeding practices. Little research has been done to understand the breastfeeding practices among working mothers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and factors associated with delayed initiation and cessation of breastfeeding among working mothers with children under the age of two years in Abu Dhabi, the UAE. Methods A cross-sectional multicenter study was conducted from March to September 2017. The study included both Emirati and non-Emirati mothers of children below the age of two years. The data were collected from seven government health care centers in Abu Dhabi as well as from the community. Mothers with young children attending the centers during the study days were approached by trained research assistants, who provided oral and written information about the study. Results Among the 1610 mother–child pairs with complete data who were included in this study, 606 were working mothers giving an employment rate of 37.6%. The mean (standard deviation) of maternal age and children’s age were 30.9 (5.1) years and 8.6 (6.1) months, respectively. Of the 606 mothers, 217 (35.8%) delayed initiation of breastfeeding, and 359 (59.2%) ceased breastfeeding. In multivariable logistic regression analysis, factors associated with delayed breastfeeding initiation among working mothers were older mother age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.04, 95% confidence interval [CI]1.01, 1.08), being of non-Arab nationality (AOR 2.24, 95% CI 1.53, 3.27), caesarean section (AOR 2.70, 95% CI 1.84, 3.96), non-rooming-in (AOR 3.85, 95% CI 1.56, 9.51) and mothers with low birth weight children (AOR 2.47, 95% CI 1.23, 4.94). The main factors associated with cessation of breastfeeding were being of non-Arab nationality (AOR 1.59, 95% CI 1.09, 2.31) and mother with high-income rating (AOR 2.79, 95% CI 1.36, 5.75). Conclusion The study highlighted the need for urgent actions to improve the working mothers’ conditions in order to promote optimal breastfeeding practices, including both early initiation and continuation of breastfeeding among all mothers in the UAE regardless of employment status. Policies to improve EBF rates among professional working mothers should include maternity leave extension to enable mothers to continue breastfeeding.


Taylor & Francis



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Medicine and Health Sciences


Working mother, Initiation of breastfeeding, Cessation of breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Rooming-in, Low birth weight, United Arab Emirates

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access


Open Access Type

Gold: This publication is openly available in an open access journal/series