Health and Wellness, Parenting

Breastfeeding for Beginners

Written By Iris Woo, 2nd year Master’s of Public Health student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health

“Breastmilk is the natural first food for babies, it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life.” (World Health Organization)

You’ve heard it before. The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous and well understood and in fact, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively until 6 months of age and continuing until age 2 (or more!) while phasing in solid food. That being said, breastfeeding isn’t always easy. It is common for mothers to face challenges and later, frustrations with the whole process. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, remember that you are not alone. It can require a lot of effort and learning, but you can do it! Here are few tips that might help you along the way:

  1. Understand your body – Understanding how our bodies are designed will help ease your frustrations. For example, by knowing how milk is produced in your body, you will know that it is normal to have limited quantities of milk for the first few days. There is tons of information out there – learn as much as you can!
  2. Communicate with your partner – Partner support is critical for successful breastfeeding. Be open and honest with your significant other, together you are stronger.
  3. Learn the basics before your baby arrives – If you are prepared for a frequent feeding pattern, nothing can defeat you. Preparing yourself mentally and physically will help you cope with the stress that can sometime accompany breastfeeding.
  4. Reach out for support – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are supports available for you, your partner, and your baby. Speak with a lactation consultant at your local hospital, or visit breastfeeding clinics in your area for information, strategies and tips.

In the end, it is about being prepared and finding support. The more you know about breastfeeding, the more likely you will enjoy the wonderful intimate time with your new baby. Reach out for help when you need it, there are people ready to support you.

Here’s a list of community resources available to support mothers with breastfeeding:


World Health Organization. Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health: Breastfeeding. Retrieved from: on 9 Oct, 2014



Emma Helfand-Green

Emma is in her second year of the Master of Public Policy program. She recently completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, studying psychology and political science. When she is not blogging for the Family Care Office, you might find Emma volunteering at the Hart House theatre, working hard (or hardly working) at the Robarts Library, or spending quality time with her cat, Goose.

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