I’m Pregnant – what now?

Congratulations you’ve discovered you are pregnant. This is great news, but you might be wondering what to do next! Most women nowadays can confirm they are pregnant by simply using a home pregnancy test.

Generally the first person to make contact with is your GP, where all care relating to pregnancy is completely free. This is where you are most likely to get information regarding your options for antenatal care during your pregnancy. Antenatal care is defined as the period from conception to birth. So what are your options?

The majority of babies in Ireland are born in hospital, with women choosing either obstetric or midwifery led care. This is usually in the hospital or in a dedicated midwifery unit. Unfortunately, some of these options are not available to everyone. Depending on where you live, the provision of services in your area and potential risk factors in your pregnancy may limit your choice.

Your GP will generally refer you to a maternity hospital. Here you will be given the option to go public, private, semi-private or have combined care. But what’s the difference?

Public Care

  • Free service
  • You will attend a public out patients’ clinic
  • Seen by junior doctors and midwives
  • Unlikely to see the same doctor at each appointment
  • The birth will be attended by a midwife
  • You will have a bed on a public ward ( pprox. 6-12 beds)

Semi Private Care

  • There is a charge for this service, available with private health insurance
  • Clinic is overseen by a consultant obstetrician
  • Seen by junior doctors and midwives
  • Depending on the size of the clinic you should see the same doctor throughout your pregnancy
  • Birth will be attended by a midwife
  • You will have a bed on a semi-private ward (approx 4-6 beds)

Private Care

  • There is a charge for service, available with private health insurance but not covered by all packages
  • Choice of consultant obstetrician
  • See the consultant at every visit
  • Birth will be attended by midwife
  • Any complications your consultant will be contacted
  • Consultant attends the delivery where possible
  • You will have a private room, where available

Combined Care

  • Free service
  • Attend the hospital and the GP for alternating appointments
  • You do not require a medical card
  • Birth attended by a midwife
  • You will have a bed on a public ward (6-12 beds)

Midwifery Led Care

  • Free service
  • Not available everywhere
  • Must be a low risk pregnancy
  • Unsuitable for those with – Previous caesarean section, Multiple birth, Raised BMI
  • Can have combined GP care
  • Some offer the option of a home birth
  • Continuity of care
  • Birth attended by midwife
  • Most offer early discharge home from hospital, with continued home care by a midwife for up to 10 days

Home Birth

  • Must be a low risk pregnancy
  • Self-employed community midwife of your choice
  • Free service but you must apply for a Home Birth Service from the HSE
  • There is a charge for the service if you enter into a private agreement with a self-employed community midwife
  • Continuity of care
  • It is recommended you also register with your GP
  • Risk assessment is ongoing and should any complications arise, eligibility for the service will cease

Having your baby in Ireland continues to be one of the safest places in the world. The choice of antenatal care is generally a personal one, but in some circumstances for safety this may have to change. You can be safe in the knowledge that no matter what option applies, you will be in safe hands.