Fathering norms are constantly changing. Fathers nowadays are more involved in the day-to-day care of children and share more work at home, a vital and ongoing change in the long road towards gender equality. Fathers are more and more involved in caring for babies and have a profound influence on breastfeeding. So how do we ensure that fathers are fully informed about how they can provide the most effective support for breastfeeding?
Breastmilk is the best food for the baby and breastfeeding benefits mother, family, society and nations. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary food up to two years of age or beyond. Studies have shown that fathers involvement and emotional support are crucial for mothers to complete her breastfeeding journey. When fathers receive breastfeeding education, materials, and professional support, breastfeeding rates are significantly higher.
The best support that fathers can provide is when both parents form a parenting team. Fathers can build a unique bond with their baby by actively interacting, cuddling and caring for the baby during exclusive breastfeeding. Both the parents can decide as a team on their breastfeeding goals, how best they can support each other, what will be each parent’s responsibilities and how they can share the domestic tasks, especially if there are older children who also need care. Communication is critical to forming a winning breastfeeding team.
“Fathers-to-be, current fathers, and father figures, let us join our hands together and support mothers during breastfeeding, playing our role in building a strong family bond, and closing the gap of absent fathers.”
MenCare Trainer with Sonke Gender Justice