The World Health Organization and other leading international associations recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age. “There are a multitude of reasons why mothers discontinue breastfeeding before 6 months, with most involving difficulties breastfeeding rather than maternal choice,” states Bloomberg Nursing Professor Cindy-Lee Dennis. “Only 20% of women in Ontario meet this recommendation.” Under the supervision of Dennis, PhD Graduate Jennifer Abbass-Dick (Class of 2013) completed a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of a coparenting and breastfeeding support intervention.
“The birth of a baby can be overwhelming for some parents,” states Abbass-Dick, now Assistant Professor with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. “By providing education and support to both mothers and fathers, we were able to increase the number of babies still breastfeeding at 12 weeks old, and also increase mothers’ satisfaction with their partners’ involvement with breastfeeding.” The trial, conducted with women after their first pregnancy, found that when fathers were trained to assist with breastfeeding, 96% of babies were still breastfeeding at 12 weeks of age, versus only 87.6% in the control group, which received only standard hospital support when discharged. Mothers in the trial also reported receiving additional support from their partner versus the control group.
“Coparenting Breastfeeding Support and Exclusive Breastfeeding: A Randomized Controlled Trial” was published in the journal Pediatrics on December 1, 2014.