Breastfeeding: frequently asked questions
Have questions about breastfeeding? Our frequently asked questions page might be able to answer them.
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 Public Health Sudbury & Districts, Health Canada, Dietitians of Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada
What about Vitamin D?
All babies need Vitamin D. Babies who receive breastmilk need to be given 400iu of Vitamin D daily until they are 12 months of age. This is available at pharmacies.
When can I start offering my baby solid food?
At six months. Please see our Healthy Eating for Babies section for more information.
What about medications?
There are only a few medications that impact on breastfeeding. Please talk to your health care provider or pharmacist for more information on a specific medication.
What about alcohol?
Alcohol can reach your baby through your breastmilk. If you decide to drink alcohol it is best not to breastfeed for at least 2 hours per drink. For more information talk to your health care provider.
What about smoking?
Even if you smoke, breastfeeding is still good for your baby. However, second hand smoke can be harmful for your baby’s health and it’s best to not smoke around him or her. If you are ready to quit or want more information please visit this page. Here are some more tips to consider:
- Smoke outside the house.
- Smoke after you breastfeed.
- Wash your hands after smoking.
- Change your clothes after smoking.
Can I breastfeed while I’m sick?
Yes, in most cases. Even when you are sick you can still breastfeed. You will provide your baby protection with antibodies to fight the illness. For more information on illness and breastfeeding talk to your health care provider.
I feel like I’m experiencing a breastfeeding challenge, what can I do?
Some mothers may experience breastfeeding challenges. If you have pain, are worried about your supply, or just feel like something isn’t going well please contact us.
How can I donate my breastmilk?
If you want to donate your milk to sick or premature babies please contact the Rogers Hixon Human Milkbank.
What do I need to eat while breastfeeding?
Your energy needs are still high when you are breastfeeding. This means you should continue to eat according to Canada’s Food Guide and need to eat an extra two to three Food Guide servings each day. Aim for regular meals throughout the day and be sure to drink enough fluids. You should also continue to take a daily vitamin containing 0.4 mg of folic acid. It is not necessary to avoid certain foods while breastfeeding, but you should limit your caffeine intake to 300 milligrams per day, avoid some artificial sweeteners and be aware of fish that have high levels of mercury. Talk to your health care provider if you have any specific concerns.
What birth controls can I take while breastfeeding?
Some birth control methods can impact your milk supply. However breastfeeding can be used as a form of birth control if your follow these rules:
- your baby is under six months old,
- your monthly periods have not returned,
- your baby is fully or nearly fully breastfed
This method of contraception is called Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM). In order to be considered fully breastfed or nearly fully breastfed your baby should go no more than four hours between breastfeeding during the day. At night your baby should go no more than six hours between feedings.
For more information on breastfeeding and birth control please contact us or your health care provider.
What are growth spurts?
Sometimes babies seem very hungry and feed more than usual. This is called a growth spurt. It typically occur at around 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months of age. It is normal, lasts only a few days and is your baby’s way of getting you to produce more milk for their new stage of growth. Continue to listen to their feeding cues. Many mothers worry that they do not have enough milk when experiencing a growth spurt. Do not worry! You do have enough milk and you’re on your way to making even more.
My nipples feel sore, what can I do?
Most mothers feel a tugging sensation at the beginning of a breastfeed. Other pain can be latch related. To ensure you have a good latch follow these tips:
- your baby’s mouth is wide open.
- your baby’s tongue is under the nipple and their lips are flared out.
- your baby has more of your breast below the nipple in their mouth.
For relief of nipple pain:
- rub expressed breastmilk on your nipples after feeding.
- air-dry your nipples after feeding.
- keep your nipples dry (change your nursing pads often).
- get help to make sure you have a deep latch, or to see if there is another reason for your nipple pain.
My breasts feel hard, what is this?
If your breasts feel swollen, hard or tender this may mean you are engorged. It can make it harder for your baby to latch.
To prevent engorgement:
- Feed your baby often – at least 8 times in 24 hours.
- Use both breasts at each feeding.
- Make sure your baby is latched well.
For relief of engorgement:
- Breastfeed your baby more often.
- Hand express to soften your breasts.
- Apply a cold compress in between feedings to decrease swelling.
If you want to know more, or need help – contact us.
How do I hand express my breastmilk?
Hand expression is important because it can help to express a few drops of breastmillk to get your baby interesting in breastfeeding, soften your breasts if you are feeling engorged and to express milk if you are going to be away from your baby. Please watch this video on hand expression to learn how.
How do I store breastmilk?
For a healthy full term infant you can store breastmilk for:
- 3-4 hours at room temperature
- 24 hours in a cooler with a freezer pack
- 3-5 days in your refrigerator (but only 1 day if it was previously frozen)
- 3-6 months in your refrigerator freezer
- 6-12 months in your deep freeze
Be sure to mark the date on your clean glass, plastic (BPA free containers) or bags made for freezing milk.
This resource may be able to give you more information on expressing and storing your breastmilk.
If you have questions about breastfeeding or feeding your baby, call to speak with a Public Health Nurse at 1.866.522.9200, ext. 342.
This item was last modified on June 2, 2022