Breastfeeding



Breastfeeding

What is it?

Breastfeeding is measured by two indicators. Intention to breastfeed measures the percent of mothers who intend to exclusively breastfeed or in combination with breast milk substitute. The second indicator measures the percent of mothers who reported breastfeeding (exclusively, in combination with breast milk substitute, or breast milk substitute only) at the hospital after birth.

Why is it important?

Breastfeeding supports immunity and provides the nutrition necessary for optimal physical health and development. It also forms a bond between mother and child that supports the child’s psychological development, and has health benefits for the mother. The Public Health Agency of Canada promotes exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, which sets the foundations for good health and development throughout childhood.

What does it mean?

While the majority of mothers reported that they intended to breastfeed, less than half of newborn infants were exclusively breastfed. Figure 1 shows that the majority of expecting mothers (71%) intended to exclusively breastfeed. Figure 2 shows that 44% of babies were exclusively breastfed at the hospital or after home birth. Another 27% of babies were being fed a combination of breastmilk and breastmilk substitute. Moreover, of mothers who intended to breastfeed (either exclusively or in combination) only half were exclusively breastfeeding at the hospital after birth.

1 in 2

mothers who intended to
breastfeed were exclusively
breastfeeding in the hospital
after giving birth.
Data Notes
Information on breastfeeding is measured by health care professional in hospital after birth.

Calculation
Numerator – Number of mothers who intended to breastfeed (exclusively or in combination)
Denominator – Total number of mothers who gave birth (live births)

Figure 1
Source: Numerator & Denominator – Better Outcomes Registry Network (BORN). BORN Information System. 2014. Date Extracted: August 2016.

  • This indicator contains 13% of mothers for whom data was not available. As such, the percent of mothers who intended to breastfeed exclusively, in combination or did not intend should be interpreted with caution.
  • Prior to April 2014, the indicator for 'intention to exclusively breastfeed' did not distinguish between intention to exclusively breastfeed and intention to breastfeed in combination with breast milk substitute. If data from before April 2014 is being used, the indicator can be adapted to 'intention to breastfeed (exclusively or in combination)' by combining mothers who intended to exclusively or combination-feed in the more recent data.
Figure 2
Numerator – Number of mothers who reported breastfeeding (exclusively, in combination, breast milk substitute or breast milk substitute only) at the hospital after giving birth.
Denominator – Total number of mothers who gave birth (live births)

Source: Numerator & Denominator – Better Outcomes Registry Network (BORN). BORN Information System. 2014. Date Extracted: August 2016.

  • This indicator contains 24% of mothers for whom data was not available. As such, the percent of mothers who intended to breastfeed exclusively, in combination or did not intend should be interpreted with caution.
  • This indicator is measured using the BORN dimension 'Feeding at hospital or MPG'. The ‘Feeding at hospital or MPG’ dimension was chosen as opposed to 'Feeding at discharge' due to inconsistencies in time of discharge between hospitals and Midwifery Practice Groups (MPGs). In hospitals, discharge can be within a few days after birth but in MPGs it is measured when the MPG discharges the infant from their care, which is usually 6 weeks after birth. This results in high levels of missing information for the 'Feeding at discharge' dimension among infants born in MPGs. As such, the use of the 'Feeding at hospital or MPG' approximates infant feeding in the best possible current method, given the data quality issues of the variable 'Feeding at discharge'.
Figure 3
Numerator – Number of women who intended to breastfeed (exclusively or in combination) and were exclusively breastfeeding in hospital
Denominator – Total number of mothers who gave birth (live births) who intended to breastfeed (exclusively or in combination)

Source: Numerator & Denominator – Better Outcomes Registry Network (BORN). BORN Information System. 2014. Date Extracted: August 2016

  • The rate was calculated to be 49% and was rounded up to 1 in 2 mothers.