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Fathers’ Thoughts on Breastfeeding and Implications for a Theory-Based Intervention


  • The authors report no conflict of interest or relevant financial relationships.


Kristen Mitchell-Box, DrPH, MSPH, MPH, Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services, University of Anchorage Alaska, 3401 E. 42nd. Ave., Anchorage, AK 99508.



To explore male partner's perceptions of breastfeeding to inform the development of interventions to increase their support of breastfeeding.


Qualitative grounded theory.


Participants were recruited and interviewed in two Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinics located Honolulu, Hawai‘i.


Fourteen male partners of low-income pregnant women or new mothers.


Male partner attitudes, knowledge, and feelings were collected through private interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and data were analyzed using grounded theory methods.


All men appreciated breastfeeding's health benefits, acknowledged that it was natural, and were empathetic to the efforts of their partners. The men also discussed not being involved in the breastfeeding decision, believing formula feeding was more convenient than breastfeeding, feeling left out of the infant-feeding process, and being uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public.


Findings suggest that an intervention to increase male partner support of breastfeeding should include multiple components to enhance knowledge, to empower men to be more engaged in the breastfeeding decision, to provide specific tips on how men can be involved in breastfeeding, and to increase comfort with breastfeeding in public. A multicomponent framework such as the social cognitive theory could be useful in guiding the development of such an intervention.