Promoting father involvement in breastfeeding
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Fathers influence mothers’ decisions to breastfeed and for how long they intend to breastfeed. Previous studies have found that positive breastfeeding outcomes are associated with fathers providing any type of supportive behavior. Above other types of support, responsive behaviours sensitive to the mother’s needs are more likely to increase exclusive breastfeeding significantly longer. This study tested the feasibility of an intervention that provided a one-time 60-minute session to an all-fathers group about the breastfeeding team and the effect of the fathers’ satisfaction with the education in terms of fathers’ breastfeeding support behaviours. This study was carried out in a maternity hospital in Canada where an average of 1,500 infants are born each year. Twenty fathers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds received this learning. The group was led by a male facilitator as some research suggests that men prefer to learn from their male peers. The facilitator was trained using the Father Breastfeeding Involvement Group: Facilitator Manual. The average session lasted approximately 60 minutes with an average group of two participants. The fathers discussed ways they could practice responsive behaviours unique to their partner and infant as an active member in the breastfeeding team. The fathers reported high satisfaction rates of attending the session and that the session created a comfortable atmosphere to share their thoughts openly. Second time fathers highly enjoyed the session finding it a valuable, informative refresher. The fathers liked the convenience of attending a session in hospital before their infant was discharged home. At one month, fathers completed the Partner Breastfeeding Influence Scale to determine the amount of specific involvement they practiced. There was a positive relationship between fathers’ overall satisfaction with the session and reports of greater father breastfeeding support behaviours. One limitation of this study is the small sample size. Data collection was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic because nonessential research was abruptly stopped within a few weeks of the program’s commencement. However, the fathers were interested and enjoyed the session, providing evidence that a larger number of participants was feasible. This knowledge can be used in planning future father involvement in breastfeeding interventions.