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Feeding your baby: how to prepare before the birth

During pregnancy it's common to think about how you'll feed your baby after birth.

Your baby gets nutrition continuously while you’re pregnant. After birth they'll feed many times, day and night. This usually gets easier over time.

Preparing and bonding with your baby during pregnancy will help you get started.

Where to get information in advance

You're more likely to have a positive feeding experience if you go to antenatal classes during pregnancy.

You can also try local breastfeeding groups and reading the ‘My Pregnancy’ book to prepare.

Talk to your midwife, obstetrician, GP or public health nurse (PHN) about your questions and concerns. You can also live chat with a lactation consultant by using the 'Ask our Breastfeeding Expert' service.

Read more about preparing for breastfeeding while pregnant

Read more about deciding to bottle feed your baby from birth

Only give breast milk or formula

Breast milk or formula is the only food or drink your baby needs for the first 6 months.

Breast milk is made to meet your baby’s growing needs. If breastfeeding doesn’t go as planned or you choose not to do it, use formula milk instead.

Regular cow's milk and plant-based milks (almond, oat, coconut and others) are not suitable for babies.

Feeding in the first few days

The first days of feeding are likely to be challenging as you and your baby learn something new.

It will be tiring as your baby feeds day and night while you are still recovering from the birth.

Get as much rest as you can. Drink lots of water and eat healthy food. This will help your body recover while making lots of milk for your baby.

Read more about the first few days of feeding your baby

Skin-to-skin contact

Right after birth you will be encouraged to have skin-to-skin contact. This lets your baby smell you and hear your heartbeat. It can help you both feel calm.

Skin-to-skin contact also helps your baby:

  • receive immune-boosting bacteria from their parents
  • send signals to produce breast milk
  • move towards your breast and attach (latch)

If you bottle feed, do it while having skin-to-skin contact.

  • Hold your baby close and make eye contact - this helps you bond.
  • Learn to recognise cues that they're hungry or had enough.

You can continue doing skin-to-skin contact at any time. This will help calm and comfort you both.

Related topics

Read about adjusting to life with a new baby

Find out how to get breastfeeding off to a good start

Learn more about milk supply concerns

Page last reviewed: 26 October 2021
Next review due: 26 October 2024

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.