Maternity care - going public
If you live in Ireland or you intend to live there for at least 1 year, you can get free antenatal care through the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme. You don’t need a medical card or a GP visit card to get free antenatal care.
The Maternity and Infant Care Scheme means you will have:
- appointments with your GP during your pregnancy
- appointments with midwives or an obstetrician during your pregnancy
- an ultrasound scan (time of scan depends on the hospital)
- blood tests
- medical care during labour and birth from midwives and an obstetrician if required
- appointments with your GP for your baby's 2 week and 6 week postnatal checks and your own post-natal check-up 6 weeks after the birth
How to register
You need to register with a GP and they'll help you register for the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme. Most GPs provide the scheme.
You will need to have your personal public services number (PPSN). You can get your PPSN from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
Your public care options
The options available to you will depend on:
- your health, your baby's health and any risk of complications that you may have
- the maternity services available in your local area
Most women choose to get care during their pregnancy from their GP as well as their local maternity unit or hospital. This is known as combined antenatal care or ‘shared care’.
Some women chose to get all their antenatal care from their maternity unit or hospital. This option is available in all maternity units and hospitals. The number of appointments varies depending on each person's needs.
Both options are covered by the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme.
Normal risk pregnancies (supported care)
Most women experience a normal risk pregnancy and birth. The care they get is called 'supported care'.
Supported care means you have your baby in a hospital or at home and your antenatal care will be provided by midwives. You will also get care from your GP if you have chosen combined or shared care.
Care from midwives
In many hospitals women with normal risk pregnancies are cared for by midwives during pregnancy, labour and birth. This is called midwifery-led care or midwife-led care.
A 'Domino' scheme is available in some hospitals for women with normal risk pregnancies. The Domino scheme means your care will be provided by a team of midwives during pregnancy, labour and birth. After you leave the hospital, a midwife will visit you in your home.
Care from midwives and obstetricians
In other hospitals women with normal risk pregnancies will get their care during pregnancy from obstetricians and midwives.
Obstetricians are doctors who specialise in pregnancy, labour and birth. An obstetrician will normally have the overall responsibility for your care. You might not meet the obstetrician more than once. At other appointments you may meet other hospital doctors who are part of your obstetrician's team. Most of your appointments will be with a midwife.
Midwives will normally provide your care during labour and birth. An obstetrician or other doctor may become involved if there is a complication.
Medium risk pregnancies (assisted care)
'Assisted care' is suitable if your pregnancy is less straightforward or medium risk. Medium risk mothers and babies require a higher level of oversight.
Assisted care means your antenatal care will be provided by an obstetrician and midwives and the birth will take place in a hospital setting. You will also have appointments with your GP if you have chosen shared or combined care.
Higher risk pregnancies (specialised care)
'Specialised care' is the type of care recommended to women with higher risk pregnancies. Your care will be led by a particular obstetrician and will be provided by obstetricians and midwives. The birth will take place in a hospital. You will also have appointments with your GP if you have chosen shared or combined care.