Breastfeeding FAQ

Have questions about breastfeeding? Below are some frequently asked questions.

If you didn’t find an answer to your questions below, please contact us and ask to speak to an HBHC nurse or Lactation Consultant.  

How long should I breastfeed?

The recommendation is to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, and sustained for up to two years or longer with appropriate complementary feeding. This recommendation is supported by the Timiskaming Health Unit, Health Canada, Dietitians of Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada

Can I still get pregnant while breastfeeding? 

The Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) helps women who wish to use breastfeeding as a form of birth control. This method is 98% effective in preventing conception if three conditions are met: 

  1. The individual is not menstruating
  2. Exclusively Breastfeeding day and night with minimal intervals between feeds. 
  3. Baby is less than 6 months old 

Are my nipples supposed to be sore while breastfeeding?

Sore nipples is a very common complaint of new mothers and are one of the most frequent reasons that mothers stop breastfeeding sooner than they planned. The two most common causes of sore nipples are incorrect latching and incorrect positioning. Speak with a Lactation Consultant at the Health Unit for more guidance. 

What is Vitamin D and why does my baby need it?

Babies who are breastfed or receiving breast milk need a daily Vitamin D supplement of 400 IU (10 µg) from birth to 2 years old. This is available at pharmacies. Vitamin D protects your baby from getting a bone disease called rickets (Health Canada). Babies who are formula feeding do not need additional Vitamin D because it has been added to formula. 

Can I take medication while breastfeeding? 

Most medications are safe to take while breastfeeding your baby, there are very few drugs that may impact baby’s health. Please visit LactMed or talk to your health care provider, or pharmacist for more information on a specific medication.

Can I consume alcohol while breastfeeding? 

Although choosing not to drink is the safest choice for breastfeeding mothers, there is no need to stop breastfeeding if you choose to consume an occasional drink. Alcohol can reach your baby through your breastmilk. Ideally it is best to avoid breastfeeding for about 2 hours after drinking one alcoholic beverage. For more information, check out Mixing alcohol and breastfeeding (Best Start Resource Centre) or talk to your health care provider.

I smoke. Can I still breastfeed my baby?

Even if you smoke, breastfeeding is still the best choice for your baby. Even though babies receive nicotine though breastmilk and second hand smoke can be harmful for your baby’s health, the benefits usually outweigh the risk. If you are ready to quit or want more information, please visit this page. Here are some more tips to consider:

  • Don’t smoke around your baby 
  • Smoke outside the house
  • Smoke after you breastfeed rather than before 
  • Wash your hands after smoking
  • Change your clothes after smoking

What should I know before I decide whether breastfeeding or formula feeding is best for me and my baby?

Decisions around feeding your baby is a personal choice. Please check out our Make an Informed Decision resource to help you understand the options and decide what’s best for you and your baby.

What are the risks associated with formula feeding?

Commercial infant formula is produced in large manufacturing facilities where any undetected error in the formulation could put the baby’s health at risk. There is also the possibility of bacterial or chemical contamination during the production and packaging process. In both cases the manufacturer will seek to recall the product. Formula can also become contaminated during the preparation and storage in the home

When can I start offering my baby solid food?

You can begin introducing solid foods to your baby at about six months old. You’ll know baby is ready to start solids when they can:

  • Sit up without support and have good neck control, 
  • Show interest in food when others are eating 
  • Ability to pick up food and put in their mouth
  • Open their mouth when they see food coming 
  • Can let you know when they are full 
  • Hold food in their mouth without their tongue pushing it out 

It’s recommended that babies start with iron-rich foods to support their growth and development. Please see our Healthy Eating for Babies section for more information.

What are my breastfeeding rights?

You have the right to breastfeed anywhere, anytime. We can help you when you return to work, or you are an employer wanting to know more.

You have protected rights as a breastfeeding mother by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. You can breastfeed anywhere, anytime. No one can stop you from breastfeeding because you are in a public area. You should never be asked to cover up, be more discreet or move to another area.

If you are breastfeeding and returning to work your employer should help with any needs you have to breastfeed or express your milk. You have the right to be free from discrimination from your employer, coworkers and clients. It may be important to remind your workplace that breastfeeding helps to keep you a valuable employee.

If you are an employer you’ll benefit by offering a workplace supportive of breastfeeding by having improved worker productivity, morale and loyalty while having less absenteeism and staff turnover. 

This document can help you to create a breastfeeding friendly workplace (OPHA) 

This information from the Ontario Human Rights Commission provides more information on your rights in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Full colour brochure here.