Pregnancy information and support

The Rotunda Hospital Dublin


Parent education classes help to build self-confidence by encouraging expectant parents to increase their own knowledge and to learn about the many aspects of pregnancy.  Midwife specialists and physiotherapists provide the course of six classes. A dietitian and social worker give extra help and advice at the first class, which is for mums-to-be only.  Partners are encouraged to attend the remaining five classes.

The classes take the form of relaxed, interactive discussions and demonstrations. They help parents to become more involved in the pregnancy and help to calm fears by explaining the physical and emotional changes that take place during pregnancy. Expectant parents get a chance to share experiences with others and gain the skills and confidence to make birth and parenthood a positive experience.

We encourage all pregnant women to attend parent education classes. You will be offered an appointment to attend the first class (mums-to-be only) at your booking visit. These classes fill up very quickly so you are advised to book as early as you can.

The remaining five classes are booked after you attend the first class and will start around ten weeks before your baby is due. In the hospital, classes are held during the day and last up to two hours. If your partner is unable to attend, a friend or relative is welcome to come with you.

Topics covered in the parent education classes:

  • healthy eating during pregnancy
  • exercise in pregnancy
  • posture and prevention of back pain
  • care and health in pregnancy
  • tour of the delivery suite (depending on how busy it is at the time)
  • signs of labour and admission to hospital
  • coping skills for labour
  • relaxation techniques
  • care during the stages of labour, including pain relief
  • baby feeding and weaning
  • care of the newborn
  • exercises for after the birth of the baby
  • adjusting to parenthood – emotional and psychological aspects
  • going home with a new baby
  • family planning
  • returning to work and
  • looking after yourself

Refresher classes are available and are aimed at women who already have a child. If you find you are unable to come to the classes in the hospital, there are classes in your local community.  Special classes are held for couples with support needs (including teenage pregnancy, hearing impairment, language difficulties, sight impairment and adoptive parents).

To make an appointment for parent education classes, please contact:

Public classes (2 to 6) – 01 817 1787

Private classes – 087 661 9233



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.

Importance of breastfeeding for mothers

Research shows that breastfeeding has significant health benefits for mothers. These include:

  • assisting the uterus (womb) return to its pre-pregnant state faster
  • helping women to lose weight after the baby’s birth
  • reducing the risk of ovarian and pre-menopausal breast cancer
  • reducing the risk of osteoporosis
  • reducing the risk of mothers with gestational diabetes developing type 2 diabetes

postponing the resumption of ovulation and menstruation during exclusive breastfeeding

Importance of breastfeeding for babies

Importance of breastfeeding for babies

Less illness and hospitalisations – babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing some illnesses including:

  • stomach upsets and infections
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • respiratory and ear infections
  • meningitis
  • urinary tract infections

Perfect food – breast milk has all the important ingredients to build the baby’s immune system. Breast milk changes from feed to feed to suit each baby’s unique needs, making it the perfect food to promote healthy growth and development. 

Breast milk is easily digested and allergies to breast milk are rare. 

Environmentally, breast milk has no waste products and leaves no carbon footprint.

Breast milk is free, convenient, clean and safe – always available at the right temperature anytime.

We hold antenatal breastfeeding workshops in the hospital on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5.00 pm – 6.30 pm. All women are encouraged to attend this workshop once during pregnancy from 28 weeks onwards. This session is in addition to the parent education classes, which all women are encouraged to attend. Early booking is advisable as these sessions are very popular.  Please phone 01 873 0596 or 873 0632 to book your place.


The medical social work (MSW) team provides a confidential support and counselling service to all women and families attending the hospital for maternity, gynaecology and paediatric care.  They can help you to access practical supports and they have up-to-date information on parent support groups, community services and welfare entitlements and benefits.

The MSW team provides counselling support and advice on issues or problems in pregnancy which can affect your wellbeing including:

  • crisis/unplanned pregnancy;
  • coping with change/stress;
  • relationship issues;
  • addiction in pregnancy;
  • bereavement – early pregnancy loss, miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death;
  • counselling for women attending the fetal assessment or early pregnancy unit and teenage clinic; 
  • support for parents when their babies are admitted to the neonatal unit.

The service is confidential and free of charge. Medical or midwifery staff and other healthcare staff can refer you to the medical social worker. You can also call into the department on the day you are having an antenatal visit or phone 01 817 1722 for an appointment.


The nine months of pregnancy can be a time of mixed emotions for men. It can be wonderful and exciting, but it can also be difficult and vague, especially for first time dads. Men may not be sure what they should be doing to help their partner. You could be worried about money as there are costs associated with pregnancy and having a baby.

Remember that the birth of your baby will bring many rewards.

Men’s thoughts during pregnancy often include:

  • Will I be a good father?
  • What if something goes wrong?
  • What is expected of me at the birth?
  • Will my partner give all her attention to the baby?
  • Will our relationship stay the same when the baby is born?
  • Will I still be able to go out with my mates to watch or play football?

During a pregnancy it is common for the father to feel left out. Your partner’s attention will be on what is happening to her body and her needs such as visits to the midwife or doctor. You may not have realised how much you depend on your partner to make you feel cared for and now that her attention is focused on her growing baby, you may feel quite lonely. It is important to share your feelings with your partner and for some men this can be difficult.

One of the most important ways to support your partner is to stay involved and to find ways of being connected with the pregnancy. Going to antenatal appointments and parent education classes with your partner will give you helpful knowledge of the many changes happening to your partner and your growing baby. The more you know and understand, the more you will be able to comment on, ask questions and take part during pregnancy.

In early pregnancy your partner may be emotional and irritable about the smallest thing. This is because of a rapid change in her hormone levels. Certain smells and tastes may make her feel sick and she may feel very tired. During the second part of pregnancy your partner will get back her energy levels. During the last months she can become tired and irritable again. 

Men too can get symptoms of pregnancy – the most common being sleeplessness, indigestion and feeling sick. These symptoms are probably caused by stress. During the pregnancy you should not smoke in front of your partner as research shows that passive smoking will harm your partner and baby. You should also encourage your partner not to smoke or drink alcohol and to eat well.

Being at the birth of your baby

It is generally assumed that all fathers will be present for the birth of their baby but for many men this is a very hard task and they feel under pressure to be there. You should have calm, relaxed discussions with your partner, which will help to stop any confusion building up, and make the pregnancy and birth a shared experience for you both.

You can keep your partner company during the early stages of labour by holding her hand, giving her sips of water and helping her to find comfortable positions. You can provide massage and touch, give her encouragement and help her to relax and concentrate on her breathing. You can also speak on her behalf so it is important that you know and understand her wishes for labour and birth. 

Watching your baby coming into the world is an incredible experience. After the birth the midwife will put the baby on your partner’s tummy so that she can have direct skin to skin contact with your baby for at least 60 minutes after birth. Afterwards you will be encouraged to hold your baby and you may also have skin to skin contact. Some men are afraid they will hurt this tiny little creature but don’t worry; your baby is not as fragile as you think. Hold your baby close and don’t be afraid to feel its softness against your skin.

Many men feel exhausted after the birth and may feel very emotional. It is important that you can go home and rest once your partner is settled into the postnatal ward with your baby. Don’t feel like you have to contact everyone yourself to give them the good news. Organise yourself so that you tell the closest family first such as grandparents and they can then contact other people. You too need to build your energy levels to be prepared for taking home your partner and baby.

Going home after the birth

Take some time off work when mother and baby come home from hospital. Plan the time so that you can give your partner time to rest and you can get involved with caring for your baby. At home, you can help your partner by cleaning and preparing meals. Remember that your home does not need to be spotless but it helps to be organised. You can quickly learn to change nappies and to bathe your baby, which will be a huge support for your partner. Get family members involved at an early stage which will give you and your partner time together to enjoy these special moments as you develop your parenting skills and get to know your baby. Don’t be afraid to say no if too many visitors arrive, as they will quickly exhaust your partner.

Some mothers get the ‘baby blues’ or become depressed after the birth so you need to be aware of her moods. Try to be as supportive as possible during this time as your partner is probably facing the biggest challenge in her life so far. You too need support so make sure you talk to your partner and friends. Your baby will need night feeds for some time which will mean you will have broken sleep – just remember it will get easier over time. 

Try to keep a sense of humour, remember you are a couple so try to make time for you two alone. As much as your baby needs you, your adult relationship is still important, so make time for adult conversation. Your physical relationship matters too. Sex is often the last thing on a new mother’s mind; you need to be considerate as it may take a number of weeks or months before your partner feels comfortable having sex. Your relationship with your partner is key to the family. When a couple are happy together, your child will be happy too. Get off to the right start by making sure you stay connected to each other, give time to each other and make hugging each other a priority.