The choice to breastfeed or not

Should I breastfeed my baby?

The decision to breastfeed is highly personal. Mothers may choose to breastfeed, to partially breastfeed, or not to breastfeed. Sometimes a decision is forced upon them by circumstances. Mothers need access to relevant information and proper support to address any barriers. They should not be pressured into a decision or feel guilty about their choices.

A) Breastfeeding recommendations

The process of feeding milk to babies can be very different between mothers. The benefits and risks of each approach need to be balanced against other factors at play in the life of the mother, the baby, and the family.  

Mothers should not feel pressured to breastfeed nor guilty about your decisions. Rather they should make an informed decision after exploring their options.

Health-care providers and their organizations recommend breastfeeding because the research shows that this has the most benefits compared to other feeding methods. Indeed, even any breastfeeding has benefits. In order of benefits, babies can be: 

  1. Breastfed
  2. Fed expressed breast milk
  3. Breastfed and supplemented with other milk
  4. Partially breastfed
  5. Infant formula-fed

We present this as information for families to use when making decisions about feeding their baby. If you are feeling unhappy or conflicted, please speak with your health-care providers.

B) The choice to breastfeed

The decision to breastfeed or not is based on many factors seen in the above diagram. Here are some areas to explore if you are considering breastfeeding.

1) Ensure you understand the benefits of breastfeeding

Ensure you understand the benefits of breastfeeding for:

Consider that infant formula manufacturers actively promote infant formula as nearly equivalent to breast milk.

2) Address any breastfeeding barriers  

Address any barriers to breastfeeding such as:

3) Get support

Get support from your family, health-care providers, and breastfeeding specialists.

4)  Make your decision

Ensure that breastfeeding is appropriate for you and your family.

C) Other options

Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Other options include:  

If you don’t like breastfeeding or the barriers are too large and you choose to wean, ensure that:

  • You are comfortable with the decision to wean.
  • Weaning is safe for you and your baby.
  • You know how to wean and how to stop making milk.