For both new mothers and those who have previously had children, breastfeeding is always filled with new experiences. The benefits for your child, family, community, and you are well worth it.
Breastfeeding is a New Experience
Having a baby and breastfeeding are new experiences for everyone, whether this is your first baby or your second or third. Learning to breastfeed takes time (often up to 6–8 weeks to get it just right), patience, and practice even if you have already breastfed a baby. Remember, if you are a first-time mother, you are also adjusting to being a parent. It is well worth the effort. You can get support from your labour coach or the nurses caring for you. Don’t be shy, any question is a good question. Your health care providers are there to help you.
Breastfeeding – A Great Start
Breast milk is all your baby needs for the first six months of life. A breastfed baby begins to learn about healthy eating — he/she decides when and how much to eat and grows according to his/her nature.
Beginning at six months of age, introduce a variety of complementary*, nutritious foods in addition to breast milk. Breastfeeding should continue for up to two years of age and beyond.
*See the NL resource Feeding your Baby: 6–12 months for more information.
Most women are able to breastfeed. When your baby is born, both of you will need to learn how to breastfeed. Give yourself and your baby time to learn. There is no one “right way” to breastfeed. Trust your body. You grew your baby well during pregnancy, and now you will continue to do well as you nourish your baby with breast milk. Here are some ways you can learn about breastfeeding. Talk to people who can help and support you:
- Your partner.
- A friend or relative who has breastfed.
- A doctor who understands and supports breastfeeding.
- Your prenatal educator or Public Health Nurse.
- Your hospital nurse.
- A lactation consultant, midwife, or a member of a community or online breastfeeding support group.
For help finding support, please see our Support section.
Breastfeeding is Designed for Babies
- Breast milk is custom-made for your baby. It is the normal way to feed your baby.
- Breast milk contains unique substances such as antibodies, live cells, hormones, and special protective growth factors.
- Breast milk is easier to digest than breast milk substitutes such as formula.
- Breast milk contains special fatty acids not found in formula that help your baby’s brain to develop and boost brain power.
- Antibodies in breast milk protect your baby against common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting, middle ear and chest infections, and allergies.
- The fat in breast milk contains high levels of cholesterol, and this may protect your child from high cholesterol levels later in life.
- Breastfeeding helps your baby to develop well-formed jaws, gums, and teeth.
- Breastfeeding may help early speech development.
- Breastfeeding offers some protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or crib death.
- Breastfeeding reduces your baby’s chances of getting some diseases such as Juvenile Diabetes.
For more information, please see the Breastfeeding Handbook.
Breastfeeding is for All Babies
This includes twins, triplets, premature babies, babies with special needs, and babies born by Cesarean birth.
Breastfeeding Helps Mothers Too
- Breastfeeding provides a special time of closeness for you and your baby, and strengthens your attachment to your baby.
- Breastfeeding saves time.
- Breastfeeding helps control mother’s bleeding after birth.
- Breastfeeding helps your uterus (womb) return to its normal size more quickly.
- Breastfeeding provides protection against breast and ovarian cancers and Type 2 diabetes.
- Breastfeeding helps new mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight more quickly.
- Breast milk is always available, “ready to serve”, clean, and at the right temperature. This makes it easier for night feedings and travelling.
- Mothers can continue to breastfeed after they return to work or school.
Breastfeeding is Also Good for Family and Community
- Breast milk is free. No need to buy formula, bottles, and equipment.
- Breastfeeding creates no pollution, extra packaging, and waste.
- Breastfeeding decreases health care system costs—babies are sick less and have fewer visits to doctor and hospital.
- Breastfeeding reduces the number of sick days parents must use to care for sick children at home.
To find out more about breastfeeding, we recommend that you review the following:
- The Breastfeeding Handbook
- Link to the Breastfeeding Handbook, located in the Resources section.
- Our Resources section
- Link to Breastfeeding & You – Resources
- Our Support & Services section
- Link to Support & Services
As well, we recommend that you connect with other breastfeeding mothers and families.
Talk to your local Public Health Nurse to find out about the supports and services in your local community. Most importantly, find out if your community has:
- Mother-to-mother support groups
- Breastfeeding clinics and support groups
- Family Resource Centres
- La Leche League
- Postnatal drop-in programs
- Other places where you can meet other parents