A survey of 15 fathers from American Samoan investigated their views about breastfeeding. Interviews took place both before and after the birth.
The fathers showed strong support for breastfeeding – the best way to feed a child, building the mother-baby bond, saving money, maintaining cultural norms. They also acknowledged the difficulties that the mother and/or baby might face.
They prioritised the mother-baby bond over their own, in line with cultural norms, at the same time as expressing modern attitudes, building their own bond with the baby in other ways, or planning to in the future. They reported high levels of actual involvement in feeding and caring, talked about being “partners” in care (whilst being respectful of their partner’s wishes about breastfeeding) and were comfortable discussing the more intimate aspects of breastfeeding.
“You’re a real man when you have a child and you’re included in the process of raising a child.”
The fathers strongly supported more breastfeeding education for fathers. There was a general preference for the idea of group education, whilst recognising this might not be the preference of all fathers. They emphasised the need for practical advice, rather than information about why breastfeeding is important (which they understood already).
Hawley NL et al (2019), “It’s free, it’s available, and it’s healthy”: A cross-sectional, qualitative study of fathers’ preferences for breastfeeding in American Samoa and their desire for father-specific, practical breastfeeding education, Pacific Journal of Reproductive Health 1.8
Header photo: mikigroup. Creative Commons.