Antenatal and maternity care appointments
Your appointments may be changed by your GP or maternity unit or hospital depending on your situation.
You’ll have more appointments if you’re diagnosed with a pregnancy-related condition like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes or if you are pregnant with twins or multiple babies. These appointments will be with your GP, hospital or both. Additional appointments for pregnancy-related conditions are covered by the Maternity and Infant Care scheme.
The scheme does not cover appointments for illnesses that are not related to your pregnancy.
Appointments with your GP
If you register for the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme, your first appointment is with your GP.
You will see your GP at least 5 times during your pregnancy.
You’ll receive similar free appointments if you have private care and have signed up for the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme.
Your GP will do antenatal checks and give you information on how to have a healthy pregnancy. They might discuss folic acid, exercise, healthy eating and vaccines with you.
Your GP will offer you a flu vaccine during one of your appointments. The flu season begins in October and finishes at the end of April. You may be charged for the administration of the flu vaccine if you don't have a medical card.
Your GP will also offer you a vaccination to protect your baby from whooping cough (pertussis) between 16 to 36 weeks. You may also have to pay for the administration of this vaccine.
Appointments at your maternity unit or hospital
You will have appointments at your maternity unit or hospital under the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme. The number of appointments depends on your needs.
Your blood pressure and urine will usually be checked during these appointments.
The booking visit (usually between 8 to 12 weeks)
Your first appointment at the maternity unit or hospital is called the 'booking visit' and is with a midwife. This usually takes place between 8 to 12 weeks of your pregnancy.
You will be asked about your medical and family history and any previous pregnancies.
A sample of your blood will be taken. The blood test results will be reviewed at your next appointment when a dating scan may be carried out.
You may be referred for other appointments if needed. These may be with physiotherapists, dietitians, smoking cessation specialists or alcohol cessation specialists.
Between 20 to 22 weeks
You may be offered a fetal anomaly or anatomy scan at the hospital.
If an anomaly is detected, a referral will be made to an obstetrician who specialises in fetal anomalies.
From 28 weeks on
Your hospital appointments from 28 weeks onward will continue the same checks including:
- your baby's development and position
- if you have signs of high blood pressure or other complications
The height of your womb (uterus) might be measured and your baby’s heart rate might be checked.
It may not be necessary to be scanned after your anomaly scan at 20 weeks, unless you are advised that you need one.
Your midwife or obstetrician will also talk to you about:
- preparing for the birth
- any concerns you may have
During the birth
During birth you’ll be cared for by your midwife. If the midwife identifies a problem during your labour, they will ask an obstetrician to help if needed.
If you need an epidural, this will be done by an anaesthetist (a doctor who specialises in pain relief medicine).
After the birth
You will be supported by midwives after the birth. They will help you with breastfeeding and caring for your baby.
Most women and babies are discharged from hospital within 3 days of the birth. If you choose a Domino scheme, you may be able to go home earlier. This is because a midwife will be visiting you at home.
Some hospitals also have ‘early transfer home’ schemes which means you can leave the hospital as soon as possible after the birth (usually 12 to 36 hours).
Once you return home, a public health nurse will visit you within 72 hours of leaving hospital.
Your GP or your GP practice nurse will examine your baby at 2 weeks old. Your GP will examine both you and your baby at 6 weeks old.