How fathers experience being in a 'breastfeeding family' when breastfeeding problems occur
Hansen, E and Nash, M and Ayton, J, How fathers experience being in a 'breastfeeding family' when breastfeeding problems occur, 2017 TASA Conference, 27-30 November 2017, Perth, Australia (2017) [Conference Extract]
Historically breastfeeding has been understood as a mother-centric practice and fathers’
perspectives on breastfeeding were ignored. However interest in the social aspects of
breastfeeding is growing and several infant feeding researchers have recently argued that the
‘breastfeeding family’ should replace the ‘ breastfeeding mother’ as the target of policy and
healthcare interventions. In this presentation we discuss findings from a mixed methods study
(interviews, focus groups, questionnaire) that explored fathers’ infant feeding experiences and
practices. The Tasmanian research was conducted in 2014 and the study included 26 fathers. In
this presentation we will focus on fathers’ accounts of infant feeding and breastfeeding problems.
Our analysis of interview and focus group data found that fathers valued breastfeeding and were
actively involved in feeding babies and making decisions about the ways that babies were fed.
Fathers frequently described trying to problem-solve breastfeeding difficulties. However, they
felt unsupported and unprepared for the challenges associated with establishing breastfeeding and addressing breastfeeding problems. Their accounts demonstrate that breastfeeding problems
affect families, not just mothers and infants and that many fathers are actively involved in trying
to solve breastfeeding problems thus providing evidence that breastfeeding is a social practice
occurring within families.