Breastfeeding and Breast Milk
Breastfeeding is the optimal way for a mother to feed her baby. Northern Health supports the following recommendations from World Health Organization, Health Canada, Dietitians of Canada, and Canadian Paediatric Society:
- Exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months of life (i.e., the infant only receives breast milk without any additional food or drink unless medically indicated);
- Introduce complementary, iron rich, solid foods and other fluids around the age of six months; and
- Continue to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond.
This webpage offers a variety of resources about breastfeeding and breast milk for mothers, families, and community partners.
It can be helpful to discuss information found online with health care providers.
We encourage mothers and families to bring copies of information to their appointments, to discuss, and get answers to questions.
Breastfeeding is a learned skill, one that mothers and babies can master with time, patience, and practice. A little support goes a long way! Women can benefit from support from their families, spouses, and peers. If additional support is needed, there are also professional and community-based supports available.
Partner, Family, and Peer Support
- Sustaining breastfeeding together: She can do it, you can help
- How Fathers Help Breastfeeding Happen
- 24 hour Crib Side Assistance: A Manual for New Dads
- Support for single parents in the first year
- Northern Health Primary Care Nursing (previously known as public health nurses)
- Basic breastfeeding support
- Located at various primary care homes (previously known as health units)
- Contact Northern Health to connect with our Lactation Consultant.
- HealthLink BC
Interested in learning more about breastfeeding? This is a great place to start!
- The Creator’s Gift to Mothers
- Promoting Breastfeeding Among First Nations Communities
- Skin-to-Skin Contact
- Baby Feeding Cues and Behaviours
- Latching your Baby
- Breastfeeding Positions
- Hand Expressing Breastmilk
- Baby's Best Chance: Parents’ Handbook of Pregnancy and Baby Care
- Toddler’s First Steps: A Best Chance Guide to Parenting Your 6-to-36 Month-Old Child
- Our Sacred Journey: Aboriginal Pregnancy Passport
- Our Special Journey: Pregnancy Passport and Handout
- Breastfeeding for the Health and Future of Our Nation: A Booklet for Indigenous Families
Are you pregnant or know someone who’s expecting? Pregnancy is an important time to learn about what to expect with breastfeeding. Talk to your health care provider about any questions or concerns you may have. The links below provide information to help you get started.
- 10 Great Reasons to Breastfeed your Baby
- 10 Valuable Tips for Successful Breastfeeding
- SmartMom Prenatal Education Texting Program
- Amazing Milk: Made Exclusively for Babies
- Preparing to Breastfeed
- Breastfeeding Wellness Teachings for Mothers, Families and Communities
Maternal Diet and Nutrition
- Nutrition and Breastfeeding: Are We Sending the Right Message?
- Prenatal Nutrition
- Nutrition While Breastfeeding
- Caffeine (Baby’s Best Chance, page 44) and Food Sources of Caffeine
- Herbal Teas (Baby’s Best Chance, page 44)
Substance Use and Breastfeeding
- Taking Care of Yourself (Baby’s Best Chance, page 116-117)
- Medicine Use While Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding: Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs
- To Quit Tobacco/Nicotine:
- Mixing Alcohol and Breastfeeding: Resource for Mothers and Partners about Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding
- Risks of Cannabis on Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting
In the early postpartum period, skin-to-skin contact with your newborn is important. This allows your baby to have unlimited access to your breast while you begin your breastfeeding journey together. Whether this is your first child or another addition, learning the basics can help you to breastfeed your new baby.
- Admission to postpartum – keeping your baby skin-to-skin (video)
- Bonding with your newborn
- Importance of skin-to-skin contact
- Why skin-to-skin care is important for your baby's well-being
Co-Sleeping and Safer Infant Sleep
- Breastfeeding My Baby Guide
- Baby’s feeding cues and behaviours (video)
- How often and how long to feed
- Why Does My Baby Cry?
- Fussy Baby Ideas
- Swaddling (Baby’s Best Chance, page 128)
- Breast engorgement
- Expressing Breast Milk (Baby’s Best Chance, pages 122-124)
- Getting started on expressing breastmilk
- Hand expressing milk (video)
- Hand Expression
- Pumping Breast Milk
- Storing Breast Milk
- More on Storing Breast Milk
Alternative Feeding Methods
There may be times when feeding directly at the breast is not possible. The following resources highlight alternative feeding methods as options for some families to meet their infant feeding goals. Even though a baby may not be fed directly at the breast, it’s important for a parent/guardian to hold them skin-to-skin during their feeding to promote bonding.
- Breastfeeding: It Can Look Different!
- Exclusive Pumping
- Cup feeding and other feeding methods (video)
The optimal way for a mother to feed her baby is with her own breast milk. Sometimes, when a mother’s milk is unavailable, babies need donated human milk. Learn more below.
Some babies need a little bit more help with breastfeeding. Here are some resources for families with babies who have unique needs.
Breastfeeding after Caesarean
- Breastfeeding Your Early Preterm Baby
- Kangaroo Care for Premature Infants
- Tips for Breastfeeding Preterm Babies
Twins, Triplets and More
- Breastfeeding Multiple Infants
- Special Issues with Multiple Births
- Special Circumstances – Twins, Triplets or More (Baby's Best Chance, page 153)
- Tips for Breastfeeding Twins
- Breastfeeding Your Multiples: Getting Off to a Good Start
Cleft Lip and Palate
Breastfeeding After Surgery
Adoption and Breastfeeding
While your baby may start to explore solid foods at about six months, continued breastfeeding is recommended for two years and beyond. Learn what other mothers have to say! Many mothers continue breastfeeding their toddlers even during new pregnancies and in tandem with newborns. This section includes resources for you and your growing child!
Breastfeeding During Painful Experiences
- It Doesn’t Have to Hurt: The Power of a Parent’s Touch (video)
- Reduce Your Infant’s Pain during Newborn Blood Tests (video)
- Breastfeed to Minimize Vaccination Pain (video)
Nutrition in the First Year
Nutrition for Toddlers and Preschools
Returning to Work
- Many mothers decide to continue breastfeeding once they return to work.
- Breastfeeding is a human right.
- Did you know that BC employers are required to accommodate your breastfeeding needs, such as providing adequate breaks and a comfortable space for you to pump and/or breastfeed your baby?
- Talk to your employer about how they can support you to meet your breastfeeding goals.
- Breastfeeding at Work
- Learn more about Returning to Work after Baby (Best Start Resource Centre, page 7).
- Breastfeeding Your Toddler (Toddler’s First Steps, pages 50-54)
- Juggling the joys (and challenges) of breastfeeding my toddler
- With strings attached
Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Tandem Breastfeeding
- Tandem Breastfeeding: Strengthening Family Connections
- Breastfeeding During Pregnancy (Breastfeeding Basics, page 62)
- Breastfeeding Your Newborn and an Older Child
- Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Tandem Nursing
Are you a community partner who works closely with women, young children, and families? This is a great place to learn more about how you can support breastfeeding mothers in your community.
Create Breastfeeding-Friendly Spaces
- Breastfeeding Welcome Poster
- Breastfeeding-Friendly Spaces
- Breastfeeding-Friendly Spaces: Make Breastfeeding Your Business
- Humans Rights in British Columbia: Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (including pregnant and breastfeeding women)
- Breastfeeding: a cultural approach can make all the difference
Celebrate Breastfeeding Week
Understand Baby-Friendly Initiative
- What is BFI: The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
- The Baby-Friendly Initiative: Strengthening Indigenous Families and Communities
- Who benefits from Baby-Friendly?
- Breastfeeding Committee for Canada
- World Health Organization – Baby-Friendly Initiative
- Pregnant women and families are vulnerable to advertising tactics that may not be in their best interests. The Baby-Friendly Initiative acknowledges that breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for mothers and infants, and those families need to be supported to make informed feeding decisions without the influence of formula marketing.