The research findings from Philips Avent show that almost all mums surveyed would like their partners to be involved in every aspect of looking after their newborn baby. 65% of mums would like their partners to help prepare a bottle feed, while 63% want support feeding the baby at night. Fortunately, most dads (81%) want to help, but there are some areas where they could be doing more to support. While most partners (82%) are involved in comforting and checking up on the baby, less than half (46%) clean the breast pumps and the bottles for the next feeding and only 41% spend time researching how to feed the baby. This means there are some aspects of caring for a newborn that are still falling to mum and there is a need for greater education for partners. This is reflected by the research findings which show that 76% of mothers think that more information is needed on how partners can support the breastfeeding journey. With evidence suggesting that by educating fathers on the benefits of breastfeeding we can double the likelihood of babies being exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, this a hugely important topic for new parents to discuss and consider*.
The health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby are widely acknowledged, but while global breastfeeding initiation rates at birth remain high at around 60-95%, these are gradually declining over time. This is resulting in lower breastfeeding rates at 6 months of age*. Providing ongoing support for breastfeeding mothers then, is key, especially with women becoming increasingly time strained and many having to juggle childcare with careers. Partners can play an active role in the breastfeeding process and fortunately many say they would like to do so.
With this in mind, Philips Avent wants to empower parents to enable breastfeeding this World Breastfeeding Week, by underlining the invaluable importance of the supporting network and encouraging partners to take a more active role in the process. Friends, family members and healthcare professionals can all play a part, and getting a partner involved in the breastfeeding process has a wealth of proven benefits. Importantly, studies show that women who receive support from a partner are more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding for longer*, while involvement in the feeding process also encourages father and infant bonding during the post-partum period*. This has been shown to have several benefits for the infant, including reducing cognitive delay and promoting weight gain in pre-term infants*.