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Dads Championing Breastfeeding

Sunday, June 26, 2011
Mary P. Byas, MPH, BSN, RN , Northshore University Health System, Evanston, IL
Hongyan Du, MS , Research Institute, Northshore University Health System, Evanston, IL

Discipline: Women’s Health (WH), Newborn Care (NB)

Learning Objectives:
  1. Participants will describe the most prevalent reported reason for discontinuing or supplementing breastfeeding.
  2. Identify three ways that postpartum nurses can encourage significant male partners to support breastfeeding.
  3. Indicate three reasons why male partner education, support and encouragement of breastfeeding is beneficial.

Submission Description:
Objective: To improve the rates of breastfeeding duration and exclusive breastfeeding by providing education, support and encouragement for breastfeeding to significant male partners during the mother’s postpartum hospital stay.  Design: A blinded, prospective parallel group, randomized clinical trial.  Setting: A 26 bed postpartum unit in a large academic medical center.  Patients/Participants:  Twenty seven mother/baby/significant male partner triads who met inclusion/exclusion criteria.    Methods:  Based on randomized group assignment significant male partners were provided with an individualized breastfeeding education, support and encouragement session.  Both a brochure and “letter from baby” highlighting father’s critical role were provided.  Follow-up phone calls with mothers were conducted at 4, 8, 12 weeks and 6 months postpartum to ascertain feeding method, level of breastfeeding, perceived male support and work status.  Results: While there was no significant difference between “any breastfeeding” and “not breastfeeding” at all time points studied, more intervention than control subjects were breastfeeding at each time point.  Statistical significance was demonstrated between exclusive breastfeeding and any other form of feeding at 4 and 12 weeks (p= .0120 and p=. 011 ) and at 8 and 12 weeks for those subjects remaining in the study (p=.041 and p=.003 ).   A nearly significant difference was shown at 12 weeks in the distribution of hours worked with more subjects in the intervention group working 40 hours per week (p=.083).  At 12 weeks, intervention group showed a marginally significant difference (p=.055) with respect to complete male partner support.  At 6 months, no significant differences in any category were demonstrated.  Conclusion/Implications for nursing practice:  A positive effect on breastfeeding was demonstrated at all time points with the greatest impact occurring at 12 weeks.  An unexpected result at 12 weeks showed that while significantly more women exclusively breastfed in the intervention group, they also tended to work full time.  This finding lends important credence to male partner education and support which can be easily incorporated into postpartum breastfeeding education at the bedside.  Keywords: Breastfeeding, duration, exclusive, fathers, male, support.