Impact of male-partner-focused interventions on breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity, and continuation
Informal sources of support, particularly the male partner, have more influence on breastfeeding behaviors than formal support from health care providers. This systematic review examined the impact of male-partner-focused breastfeeding interventions on breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity, and continuation. Four unique interventions were identified that were tested through randomized controlled studies or quasi-experimental design. These 4 provided breastfeeding education to fathers, with breastfeeding outcomes reported by the mother. Three of the 4 studies compared initiation rates between intervention and control conditions, and 2 showed significantly higher rates of breastfeeding initiation in the intervention group. Although studies were inconsistent in their categorization and reporting of full, partial, or no breastfeeding, significantly higher rates of breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity, and/or continuation were seen for 2 interventions. Because all 4 interventions found at least 1 breastfeeding outcome to be superior in the treatment group, breastfeeding education should be offered to male partners. Future studies should test if intervention effectiveness can be increased if education is supplemented with other activities. Future studies also should use controlled designs and validated outcome measures.