Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Nutrition and Health Sciences, Under the supervision of Professor Kaye Stanek-Krogstrand. Lincoln, NE: May, 2011

Copyright 2011 Katrina Harwood


Breastfeeding is well known to be the optimal feeding method for healthy infants. Although the benefits of breastfeeding have been well documented, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2010 breastfeeding report card, breastfeeding rates at 3months, 6 months and 12 months post-partum have fallen below the objectives set by Healthy People 2010. A mother’s decision to breastfeed has been associated with a variety of factors including, income, education level, geographic location and level of breastfeeding support provided by health care professionals, her mother and the infant’s father. The father of the unborn child has been identified as being very influential in feeding method decision. The purpose of this study was to assess the intent of expecting fathers to encourage breastfeeding and to explore perceptions of the father’s involvement in breastfeeding and barriers to encouraging breastfeeding. Ten expecting fathers were recruited from a crisis pregnancy center and a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinic to complete a questionnaire and a one-on-one interview with the researcher. Intent of the fathers to encourage breastfeeding was assessed using the Theory of Planned Behavior model. Overall, the fathers were found to intend to encourage breastfeeding and have positive attitudes regarding encouraging breastfeeding. The father’s perceived behavioral control was lower than scores for intent, attitude and subjective norms. This finding suggests that the fathers were not confident in their ability to encourage breastfeeding if they desired to. Having the mother use a breastpump and being there for the mother as she breastfeeds were found to be ways fathers felt they could be involved in the infant’s feeding. The main barrier to encouraging breastfeeding was that it was ultimately the woman’s decision.