The Rotunda Hospital Dublin

Feeding your Baby

It’s never too early to start thinking about how you are going to feed your baby. Breastfeeding gives your baby the best possible start in life as it has lots of benefits for both you and your baby that last a lifetime.


The Rotunda hospital promotes breastfeeding as the healthy way a woman can feed her baby. Research shows that breastfeeding can really help to start your baby off on the road to good health. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for infants and recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

There is, however, more to breastfeeding than simply providing food. The very intimate relationship that develops between a breastfeeding mother and her baby can also help the behavioural and emotional development of the baby. During the antenatal period, the doctors and midwives will discuss breastfeeding with you and answer any questions you may have.

Feeding your Baby

The Feeding Question

The Rotunda Hospital recommends breastfeeding because it is the best start in life for babies. We are accredited as a ‘baby friendly’ hospital, which means that we provide a high standard of care so that pregnant women and new mothers receive the support they need to breastfeed successfully.

However, we support choice for women and we will support mothers whatever decisions they make about how to feed their baby. It is not necessary to make this decision until after you have held your baby skin to skin after birth. We recommend that you take the time to discuss your options with your midwife or doctor.

You will hear lots of opinions and stories about other people’s feeding experiences. While much of the advice and information you get from friends and family will be very useful, some of it may confuse rather than guide you. We aim to give you the information that you need to help you decide what is best for you and your baby.

If your baby is born prematurely or is unwell then it will be vital that you provide breast milk for your baby. You will be advised and supported by the midwives on how to establish and maintain your milk supply.

Feeding your Baby

Breastfeeding - the Early Days

Following the birth of your baby you will be given your baby to hold skin to skin for at least 60 minutes. This is a good time to offer the first breastfeed as your baby will be awake and alert after birth. We will show you how to recognise the early signs of your baby’s readiness to feed and we will give you any help you require. Skin to skin contact may continue during your transfer to the postnatal ward and it will not be interrupted for routine procedures.

Getting Started with Breastfeeding
Feeding Your Baby

Continuing to Breastfeed

Growth spurts

Babies grow all the time. However, they do have growth spurts, which occur around three, eight and 12 weeks. At this time the baby feeds more often and this increases your milk supply. This usually lasts for about 24 – 48 hours and then the feeding pattern returns to normal.

Reasons for expressing milk

You may want to express milk if:

  • your breasts are too full for the baby to attach;
  • your breasts feel full and uncomfortable;
  • your baby is too small or sick to breastfeed; or
  • you will be away from your baby for more than an hour or two.

You can express milk:

  • by hand;
  • using a hand pump;
  • using an electric pump.
Feeding your Baby

Cleaning & Sterilising Equipment

It is very important that you clean and sterilise all the equipment you use to feed your baby. Cleaning and sterilising remove harmful bacteria that could make your baby sick.

  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water. Dry them using a clean towel.
  • Wash all feeding equipment well in hot soapy water.
  • Use a clean brush to clean the inside and outside of the equipment to make sure you remove any leftover milk from the hard-to-reach places.
  • Rinse well in clean running water.

You can use your dishwasher to clean feeding equipment provided it is dishwasher proof. Dishwashers do not sterilise feeding equipment.

Feeding Your Baby

Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D is important for healthy bone growth and to prevent certain diseases. It helps lay down calcium in your bones and control calcium levels in your body. Babies must get enough vitamin D in the first year of life when there is rapid bone growth. Babies with very low vitamin D levels can develop rickets – a disease where the bones become soft and weak. Children with rickets have bowed legs and arms as well as other bony changes. Adults with low vitamin D levels can also develop weak bones. Vitamin D may also have a role in preventing some chronic (long-term) illnesses.