University Of Tasmania

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How fathers experience being in a 'breastfeeding family' when breastfeeding problems occur

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 17:03 authored by Emily HansenEmily Hansen, Meredith NashMeredith Nash, Jennifer AytonJennifer Ayton
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.


Publication title

2017 TASA Conference


School of Social Sciences

Event title

2017 TASA Conference

Event Venue

Perth, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Behaviour and health; Expanding knowledge in human society

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