Proportion of women who initiated breastfeeding, Canada and the provinces/territories, 2006/2007

Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Maternity Experiences Survey, 2006-2007. – accessed July 21, 2017.

In 2006-2007, according to the Maternity Experiences Survey (MES*), 90% of women started breastfeeding after they gave birth.

The percentage of women who initiated breastfeeding generally increased from Eastern Canada to Western Canada.

75% of women in Newfoundland & Labrador and 72% in Prince Edward Island initiated breastfeeding after giving birth.

97% initiated breastfeeding in British Columbia.

*The MES population consisted of birth mothers 15 years of age and older who had a singleton live birth in Canada during a three-month period preceding the 2006 Canadian Census of Population and who lived with their infant at the time of data collection. Using the 2006 Canadian Census, a stratified random sample of 8,244 women estimated to be eligible was identified. Of these women, 6,421 (78%) completed a 45-minute interview at five to 14 months after the birth of their baby, conducted primarily by telephone.


Breastfeeding is the optimal method of feeding for infants up to 2 years – this is recognized by international organizations such as the World Health Organization and is endorsed by many Canadian organizations such as the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society.  Breastfeeding has many benefits for the baby – related to growth, immunity and cognitive development.  In addition it has benefits for the mother such as decreased postpartum bleeding, protection against certain cancers, and improved bone health.  Breastfeeding also strengthens the bond between mothers and babies.1

1Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Six to 24 Months. 2012. -accessed July 26, 2017.