Engaging fathers in breastfeeding support increases exclusive breastfeeding substantially (Vietnam)


A community based and social programme to engage fathers in support of breastfeeding, integrated with existing healthcare, has shown substantial results in Vietnam.


(412 fathers)


(390 fathers)

Initiation 36% 49%
Exclusive breastfeeding at 1 month since birth 6% 35%
Exclusive breastfeeding at 4 months since birth 4% 19%
Exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months since birth 0% 2%

The programme, delivered in the northern province of Hai Duong, consisted of several elements:

  • Mass media communication:
    • Two messages delivered 132 times on a communal speaker system
    • Distribution of flyer, mugs, T-shirt and a father-infant relationship calendar
    • Motivational posters in health facilities
  • Counselling by midwives and health workers trained in a 2-day workshop
    • Groups at community health facilities
    • Four home visits (first trimester, after the birth at 7 days, 6 weeks and 3.5 months)
    • Individual counselling just after delivery at the hospital
  • Social activity
    • Fathers’ clubs – regular monthly meetings and further meetings as agreed within the groups
    • Facebook group
    • Public contest for fathers, “who loves wives and children more?” A jury made awards according to fathers knowledge, attitudes and practice.

The programme of activities communicated a variety of information and advice:

  • Importance of breast milk and exclusive breastfeeding
  • Common misconceptions about breastfeeding and poor breastfeeding practices
  • Role of the father in child nutrition and development
  • How fathers can support exclusive breastfeeding
  • Timing of exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding
  • Common difficulties of breastfeeding.

The researchers recommend further programmes of this kind, carefully designed around local social and cultural conditions. They recommend that UNICEF and WHO should recommend counselling for fathers as part of standard practice, including in the 10 Steps.


Bich TH, Long TK & Hoa DP (2019), Community-based father education intervention on breastfeeding practice – Results of a quasi-experimental study, Maternal & Child Nutrition 15

Photo from the project provided by the authors.