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The Rotunda was the first maternity hospital in dublin to get the national baby friendly hospital award

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 read through this section and 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. In this section 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.

How breastfeeding works

The first milk your breasts produce is called ‘colostrum’. This milk is ideal for your baby for the first few days. It is made in small quantities so your baby will feed frequently, which is perfectly normal. The more your baby feeds the more milk you will produce.

After about three days your breasts may become engorged. They may feel heavy, hot and full. This is normal and is due to an increase in the blood and milk supply to your breasts. It usually settles within 24 – 48 hours with frequent feeding and by using cold compresses on your breasts between feeds.

Sometimes women may have to hand express to soften the areola (area around the nipple) so that the baby can attach properly to the breast.
Once the mature milk is established it contains ‘fore” milk and ‘hind’ milk. The fore milk is high volume milk, which will quench your baby’s thirst. The hind milk is high in fat and calories, which will settle your baby between feeds and ensure that they will put on weight.

It is important that you don’t restrict how long your baby spends feeding. Babies will vary the length of their feeds. Just like us, they may fancy a quick snack or will want to settle in for a full three-course feast! As a general rule, your baby should feed from the first breast until the breast is softened and/or your baby comes off the breast naturally. Always offer your baby the second breast although they may not take it. Throughout a breastfeed your baby’s sucking will send messages to your brain to ‘order’ milk for the next feed.

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