Male boost for breastfeeding

 

THE HSE in the northwest is enlisting the help of fathers in a bid to boost breastfeeding rates in the region.

Health promotion development officer Liz Martin said fathers played a key and positive role in encouraging breastfeeding and yet there was a dearth of national and international research in this area.

A study she conducted among 13 breastfeeding mothers in the region found that their partners had a big influence in their decision to breastfeed.

The HSE now wants fathers whose children were breastfed to share their experiences and help design information leaflets aimed at encouraging new fathers.

Studies have shown that only 47 per cent of Irish women are breastfeeding when they leave maternity hospital compared with 80 per cent in Britain and nearly 100 per cent in Scandinavian countries.

Eamon Lawless, who is organising meetings for fathers in Mohill, Tubbercurry and Sligo, said the instinctive reaction of most people was to ask what role fathers could possibly have.

“The research that Liz did shows that if men play a supporting role it can make it easier for women and that they tend to breastfeed for longer,” he explained.

Lawless, who co-ordinates parenting courses for men, said that by doing practical things like cooking, men could give huge support to their partners. “I know of one man who said that by cooking a meal for his wife while she was breastfeeding, he felt he was playing a role and was part of the inner circle,” said Lawless.

He said that men could contribute in practical ways by changing nappies and helping around the house.

He said the purpose of the men-only meetings would be to allow fathers to talk about their experiences without being embarrassed in a comfortable environment.

“All I want them to do is come and talk,” he said. “Men will often say they have nothing to contribute or to add, but when they start they have actually a lot to add.”


The meetings take place at the Canon Donohoe Hall, Mohill, tonight, Sligo Family Resource Centre, tomorrow, and Tubbercurry Family Resource Centre on April 27th