Northern Health COVID-19 information

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and breast milk

Woman breastfeeding an infant

Breastfeeding is the optimal way for a mother to feed her baby. Northern Health supports the following recommendations from Canadian health organizations:

  • 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;
  • Continue to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond; and
  • Infants and toddlers who receive any amount of breast milk be given a daily liquid vitamin D supplement of 400 IU (10 mcg).

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.

Support for breastfeeding

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. The HealthyFamilies BC blog article "Why it’s important for everyone to support breastfeeding" provides five examples of what you can do to help.

If additional support is needed, there are also professional and community-based supports available.

Professional support
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Community-based support
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Partner, family and peer support
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Resources for breastfeeding

Interested in learning more about breastfeeding? This extensive list of resources is a great place to start!

General information for women and families

Apps

Booklets

Videos

Websites

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Prenatal: Planning for baby's arrival

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. Check out the Mother’s Breastfeeding Checklist and the links below to help you get started.

Getting started

Maternal diet and nutrition

Substance use and breastfeeding

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Baby has arrived: Getting started

Whether this is your first child or another addition, learning the basics can help you to breastfeed your new baby and the HealthyFamilies BC article "Breastfeeding - Learning the basics" is a great place to start.

Skin-to-skin

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.

Effective latching

Baby behaviour

Comfortable positions

Co-sleeping and safer infant sleep

Expressing milk

Milk supply

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.

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Donor human milk

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.

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Special circumstances: Families with unique needs

Some babies need a little bit more help with breastfeeding. Here are some resources for families with babies who have unique needs.

Adoption and breastfeeding

Breastfeeding after Caesarean

Breastfeeding after surgery

Cleft lip and palate

Down syndrome

Prematurity

Twins, triplets and more

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Breastfeeding your growing child

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 in the NH Stories article "Sustaining breastfeeding together". 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

Breastfeeding during pregnancy and tandem breastfeeding

Breastfeeding a toddler

Nutrition

Returning 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? Share these resources with your employer and discuss how they can support you to meet your breastfeeding goals.

Weaning

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Resources for community programs

Does your community program work 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. Check out the Mother’s Breastfeeding Checklist and the links below to help you get started.

Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI)

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.

Celebrate Breastfeeding Week

Create breastfeeding-friendly spaces

Explore breastfeeding education

General resources for community programs

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