'It was a shared duty': Bereaved fathers' perspectives, experiences and practices in relation to their partner's lactation after infant death

Debbie Noble-Carr, Katherine Carroll, Simon Copland, Catherine Waldby

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    This exploratory study targets a significant gap in the lactation and bereavement literature by exploring bereaved fathers' experiences, perspectives and practices in relation to their partner's lactation after stillbirth, neonatal or infant death. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven bereaved fathers in two Australian state/ territory jurisdictions. Purposive sampling ensured the partners of five of the fathers had been involved in bereaved breastmilk donation to a human milk bank. Thematic data analysis identified key themes that drew attention to the significant grief experienced by fathers and highlighted: (i) breastmilk and infant feeding holding significant meaning for some fathers especially within the neonatal intensive care or palliative care settings, (ii) the impact of diverse lactation management options on the awareness and involvement of fathers in their partner's lactation after infant death, (iii) fathers' provision of significant care and support for partners participating in bereaved breastmilk donation, (iv) bereaved breastmilk donation positively impacting some fathers' grief and meaningmaking, and (v) bereaved families' requirement for enhanced lactation care, information and support. Results indicate the need for an enhanced focus on family-centred bereaved lactation care and acknowledgement of the positive role that bereaved breastmilk donation may have for both mothers and fathers following infant loss.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7-17
    JournalBreastfeeding Review
    Volume30
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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