Learning how to feed your baby can take time. Help and support is available in the days, weeks and months after your baby is born.
Types of feeding
New parents may choose between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Some may choose to do both.
Breastfeeding is a skill. It takes time to learn and practice. Getting support will help you and your baby master this skill.
Bottle-feeding means learning how to prepare a bottle and how to give it to your baby.
Some parents will choose to breastfeed and bottle-feed. This is called combination feeding.
Types of support available
Support for feeding your baby is available in the hospital after birth. Talk to your midwife or nurse.
If you had a home birth, your midwife can help.
Your midwife can help with:
- skin-to-skin contact
- positioning your baby so they can attach to your breast
- learning how to hand express your breast milk
- using a breast pump
- holding your baby if giving them a bottle
- paced-bottle feeding
All midwives and maternity nurses are trained to help you with breastfeeding. You may also get extra support from a hospital lactation consultant if you're having breastfeeding challenges. For example, if you have an inverted nipple or your baby has tongue tie.
Equipment like breast pumps and sterilisers are available in your maternity unit or hospital.
A midwife will visit you at home if you took part in the Domino scheme for your antenatal care, or the early transfer home service. They will then hand care over to your public health nurse (PHN).
Read about preparing for breastfeeding while pregnant
Your public health nurse (PHN)
Your PHN will get your contact details through your hospital. They'll call you after you leave hospital and arrange a time to visit your home.
Your PHN is trained to provide breastfeeding advice. They can also give you advice on how to safely prepare formula milk. Always contact your PHN if you're thinking of changing the type of formula you are giving your baby.
Your PHN will give you their phone number so you can call them if you have questions before their next visit.
Your GP or obstetrician are there to support you during breastfeeding. Your baby will have appointments with their GP or obstetrician at 2 weeks and 6 weeks after the birth. The cost of these appointments is covered by the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme.
At 2 weeks, your GP or the GP practice nurse will look at how your baby is developing. They'll also weigh them. It's a chance to talk about any concerns you may have about your baby and their feeding.
At 6 weeks, you and your baby will both have a check-up with your GP or obstetrician. They'll ask you about how you are feeding your baby, and whether your baby is feeding well.
You will be having your postnatal check-up at the same time as your baby's 6 week check. Your GP or obstetrician will also ask how you are feeling. Never be afraid to talk about how you're feeling and to ask any questions.
Ask our breastfeeding expert
You can use the ‘Ask our breastfeeding expert’ service if you have a breastfeeding question. Lactation experts give advice through live chat or email.
Live chat is available between 10am and 3pm, Monday to Friday. Outside of these times, fill out the form and you'll get a reply within 24 hours.
Breastfeeding support groups
Support groups are a great chance to meet other mothers. They can also be a source of information and help. You can join one before you have your baby to meet other mothers. This will make it easier to reach out for support after your baby is born.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many support groups are meeting online, or on Facebook or Whatsapp.
Breastfeeding support groups are run by:
- HSE lactation consultants
- La Leche League leaders
- Cuidiú breastfeeding counsellors
- Friends of Breastfeeding - a peer support group for breastfeeding mothers
Find breastfeeding support groups near you
Private lactation consultants
Some mothers may choose to contact a private lactation consultant. They can visit you and give you advice. You'll need to pay for their services.
The Association of Lactation Consultants Ireland has information on private lactation consultants.
Family and friends
Looking after a newborn baby is very tiring. You'll need a lot of support in the early days and weeks. Ask your partner, family and friends for practical help, as well as emotional support.
They can help by:
- cooking meals
- food shopping
- doing household chores
- minding older children
Responsive feeding for babies