Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Emily Graybill, Ph.D., NCSP

Second Advisor

Cassandra White, Ph.D.


INTRODUCTION: Father support has recently been associated with increasing breastfeeding rates, but there is limited research on how the American father’s perspective of breastfeeding rates affect those rates.

AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate the perspective American fathers have on breastfeeding and understand if it contributed to mothers’ decisions to initiate and continue exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months.

METHODS: This study analyzed 10 semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with both fathers and mothers of ever-breastfeed infants at least six months of age. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and openly coded to identify common themes, and then analyzed using principles of grounded theory.

RESULTS: Results suggested that mothers were often the lead decision makers in the decision to breastfeed based on her prepartum knowledge of breastfeeding and its benefits. Many fathers had no prepartum perspective of breastfeeding, though they were not opposed to it. Those fathers who had prepartum opinions about breastfeeding traced their beliefs about breastfeeding to their families’ cultures or traditions.

DISCUSSION: Data suggested that among this population of 30 – 44 year old educated, heterosexual married couples breastfeeding was common, but the recent increasing rates may not necessarily be influenced by the American father's perspective of breastfeeding.