Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 October 2018
Despite the significant health benefits of breastfeeding for the mother and the infant, economic class and race disparities in breastfeeding rates persist. Support for breastfeeding from the father of the infant is associated with higher rates of breastfeeding initiation. However, little is known about the factors that may promote or deter father support of breastfeeding, especially in fathers exposed to contextual adversity such as poverty and violence. Using a mixed methods approach, the primary aims of the current work were to (1) elicit, using qualitative methodology, the worries, barriers and promotive factors for breastfeeding that expectant mothers and fathers identify as they prepare to parent a new infant, and (2) to examine factors that influence the parental breastfeeding intentions of both mothers and fathers using quantitative methodology. A sample (N=95) of expectant, third trimester mothers and fathers living in a low-income, urban environment in Midwestern USA, were interviewed from October 2013 to February 2015 about their infant feeding intentions. Compared with fathers, mothers more often identified the benefits of breastfeeding for the infant’s health and the economic advantage of breastfeeding. Mothers also identified more personal and community breastfeeding support resources. Fathers viewed their own support of breastfeeding as important but expressed a lack of knowledge about the breastfeeding process and often excluded themselves from discussions about infant feeding. The results point to important targets for interventions that aim to increase breastfeeding initiation rates in vulnerable populations in the US by increasing father support for breastfeeding.
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