A new study from Taiwan has shown that breastfeeding rates improve when fathers are encouraged to provide skin-to-skin care to their baby. The study did not include any additional support, such as breastfeeding education for fathers. The only differentiating factor between the fathers in this study was the degree of their own connection with the baby.
The study compared two groups of father-baby pairs, 72 in each group. The fathers in one group received hands-on support with skin-to-skin care, whilst the fathers in the other group did not.
Two measures of breastfeeding were higher in the group that received skin-to-skin support:
- Rooming-in rate in the hospital
- Exclusive breastfeeding in the three months after the birth
The degree of support of fathers for breastfeeding was also measured and found to be higher in the skin-to-skin group.
This finding further supports the theory that skin-to-skin care triggers biological and neurobiological changes in fathers – as it does for mothers – that attune the father to care of the baby. This care appears to include attention to the baby’s feeding, over which fathers have a significant influence.
The study adds to the growing evidence that fathers are not just helpers, but that their own relationship with the baby is an important factor in the health of mother and baby.
Wang S-L (2018), The effective of early skin-to-skin contact with fathers on their supporting breastfeeding, International Journal of Nursing and Health Sciences (2018) – abstract only published at the time of this report
Photo: CHIA. Creative Commons.