When women become mothers they have a very important decision to make: will they breastfeed or bottle feed their baby? According to Statistics Canada, an increasing number of women today have jumped onboard the breastfeeding train compared to 10 years ago.
More specifically, in 2003, 85 per cent of mothers breastfed their babies. This compared to the 89 per cent of mothers who breastfed in 2011-2012 is a significant increase.
Within Canada, the rates widely range across the provinces and territories, stretching from 57 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador to 96 per cent in British Columbia and the Yukon.
As well, a greater number of mothers have been exclusively breastfeeding their newborns for six months or more. This means they were only feeding their babies breast milk and not any other liquids or solids. The number of mothers exclusively breastfeeding jumped from 17 per cent in 2003 to 26 per cent in 2011-2012.
There are many benefits to breastfeeding including the fact that it's a custom-made nutrition that changes as the baby grows. Breastfeeding also protects against infectious diseases and benefits the mother as well. It has been known to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as breast cancer, and can be a contributor to a mother's post-pregnancy weight loss.
Statistics Canada found that the 11 per cent of mothers who chose not to breastfeed tended to be younger and had less formal education than those who did breastfeed. The main reasons for choosing not to breastfeed was because bottle feeding was easier and a medical condition of the mother or child.
Canada's breastfeeding rate of 89 per cent is higher than that of the U.S., which is 77 per cent. However, Canada's rate is still lower than that of Norway, 95 per cent, and Australia, 92 per cent.