Disadvantaged urban fathers respond positively to breastfeeding program (USA)

urban breastfeeding

A short and low-cost intervention specifically designed for fathers/partners of high-risk inner-city mothers has been developed and tested in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. It positively influenced fathers’ perceptions about their breastfeeding knowledge . The programme consisted of three evening education sessions, one week apart.

Accessibility to fathers – mainly African-American – was a priority in the development of the program, which was done in consultation with local fathers.

  • The programme was delivered in a community setting, not in a health setting.
  • The sessions were in the evening, outside of working hours.
  • The facilitator was male and not a health professional – in this case it was an African-American pastor.
  • Information given to fathers was pocket-sized, because these fathers don’t have handbags.
  • The sessions were also attended by a “male resource specialist”, able to connect fathers with a wide variety of services in Cleveland that could be helpful to them.

The curriculum adapted the Breast for Success programme designed for mothers. It covered the same issues, but from the perspective of fathers, for example, the benefits of breastfeeding, tips on breastfeeding and how a father can be supportive, how to balance other demands such as older children and work, and how to understand common misconceptions about breastfeeding.

Since this research in 2013, a fuller resource for fathers has been built up and is available on the University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital website.

66 fathers participated, 49 of them African-American. 45% attended all three sessions. After each session over 80% of the participants said they would be more likely to support breastfeeding for their next child. 62% said they had a “lot more” knowledge about breastfeeding.


Furman L, Killpack S, Matthews L, Davis V & O’Riordan MA (2016), Engaging inner-city fathers in breastfeeding support, Breastfeeding Medicine 11.1

Photo: Tom Pratt. Creative Commons.