New research from Philips reveals the importance of partner participation in the breastfeeding journey

Coinciding with World Breastfeeding Week 2019, Royal Philips (NYSE:PHG, AEX:PHIA), a global leader in health technology and mother and child care, has released new data revealing the important role that partners can play in the breastfeeding process. While breastfeeding naturally remains a mother’s job, breastfeeding mothers do need support from their surrounding network.

Research findings 
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.

“The importance of breastfeeding cannot be overstated. Family members, friends and healthcare professionals can all play a positive part in encouraging and promoting breast feeding. Studies have shown that women receiving support from their partner are more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding for a longer period of time, while having your partner’s presence during breastfeeding is shown to improve infant bonding during the post-partum period. Infants also benefit through reduced cognitive delay and weight gain,” said Muhammad Ali Jaleel, Country Manager, Personal Health and Health Systems Leader, Philips Malaysia.

“The role of the father has changed in the past few decades,” said Prof Dr Michael Abou-Dakn, Chief physician of Gynaecology at the St Joseph Hospital in Berlin and a specialist on the topic of father-infant bonding. “Men are now much more willing to be hands-on in the child raising process. Not only are men more often present at births, but they are also taking on a lot of the childcare duties too. This includes supporting the breastfeeding process, which is great for father-infant bonding and has long-lasting benefits which the baby will carry into later life.”

Views of Philips Malaysia personnel in line with global opinions
A quick survey among 24 Philips Malaysia personnel also found that the mothers surveyed wanted their partners to be fully involved in looking after the baby, with 71% of mums wanting help feeding the baby at night and an equal number (71%) wanting help with cleaning and preparing breastfeeding equipment such as breast pumps. Like their global counterparts, most fathers (75%) want to help, and the support they provided achieved an average rating of 87 of 100 from local respondents. At the same time, the desire to have more information on how partners can support mothers who are breastfeeding is still strong, with 78% wanting more information.

Understanding the challenges of breastfeeding for both parents, Philips is committed to sharing knowledge and providing solutions that can support the process for all involved. Having worked closely with healthcare professionals and parents for over 35 years, Philips has developed a deep understanding of mothers, babies, healthy feeding practices and physiology. Research using ultrasound technology to visualise and record babies and mothers breastfeeding has enabled
Philips to develop solutions that mimic the physiology of the breast and the natural drinking reflexes of the baby. These deep insights also allow Philips to co-create solutions and share their expertise with the wider healthcare and parenting community, helping to successfully educate and inform parents about breastfeeding. By helping parents to embrace every challenge with confidence, Philips hopes to encourage breastfeeding for longer.

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