Thursday 27 October 2016

One in three Irish dads are uncomfortable with their partners breastfeeding in public

Published 03/07/2016 | 13:26

One in three dads are uncomfortable with breastfeeding
One in three dads are uncomfortable with breastfeeding

More than a third of fathers feel uncomfortable when their partners breastfeed in public, new research has found.

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A study carried out by Dublin Institute of Technology healthcare researcher Annemarie Bennett found that 38pc of Irish dads admitted they would have reservations about their partners breastfeeding publicly.

The research, which involved quizzing 583 Irish fathers, found that 5pc of fathers would be “completely uncomfortable” with public breastfeeding, while 62pc said they would be “completely comfortable” with the idea.

The survey found that 12pc of Irish men admitted they would be uncomfortable seeing a woman breastfeeding in public, while 58pc said they would be indifferent. Almost 30pc of men said they felt respect for women who breastfed in public.

Speaking to, Bennett said: “The number of dads who are uncomfortable with breastfeeding is obviously higher than we’d like to be but 62pc of men are, which is a figure that shouldn’t be pushed aside.

“I think the findings reflect our breastfeeding culture in Ireland. Mothers who breastfeed beyond six weeks postpartum are in the minority in this country, so seeing women breastfeeding in public might not be something people see often,” she said.

Read more: 'Breastfeeding my 4-year-old is about meeting her needs, not worrying about what other people think'

The research was carried out on subjects who ranged in age between their early twenties and mid-forties.

Some of the concerns brought up by men who were uncomfortable with public breastfeeding included a fear of threatening their partners’ modesty and dignity but also a concern that other people would be upset.

“Dads who said they were uncomfortable were for the most part worried about their partners’ modesty and dignity. They were worried about people making mean comments. They did not want their partners to be upset, but at the same time, they did not want to upset other people.

“These were all the same fears that women have as well so it’s certainly not just a guy thing.

“It can take a lot of confidence for women to breastfeed in public,” she said.

The research also found that 78pc of dads said there were disadvantages to breastfeeding, including the fact that they are unable to help with the feeding and coping with their tired and sometimes frustrated partners.

The researcher stressed that dads play an important role in the breastfeeding process as they are often the main support available to Irish mums.

“Dads are such an important part of the breastfeeding process and can make the difference between a woman continuing breastfeeding or not.

“Dads can provide that continuity of care and support that health care professionals cannot. They are the ones who are there at three in the morning in the midst of it and in this way their voices are important too,” she said.

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