Finding out that you’re pregnant can be extremely overwhelming even for parents who have spent months or years hoping to see that positive test!
You go from being completely consumed by your emotional journey when trying to conceive or from the engulfing shock of an unexpected pregnancy, to the arrival at the point of realising you really are now pregnant and you have no idea what to do about it! Here’s a little guide with the first steps to take after finding out your expecting a baby in Ireland!
- Go to your GP.It is important to go to your GP for a few reasons. Mainly you want to get your general health checked out and you want to have your pregnancy confirmed. Most doctors will require you to take a pregnancy test at the surgery – but remember that some home pregnancy tests are very sensitive and if you attend the doctor too early – for example before your missed period – you may get a negative result with the GP. Don’t be alarmed, your GP may just request that you come back in a week or so and retest or they may decide to take bloods to confirm the pregnancy depending on what is most appropriate. Your GP can advise you about the different types of maternity care that are available in Ireland. The main thing to remember is that, as a woman ordinarily resident in Ireland, you are entitled to free public maternity services so you can rest assured that you will be looked after in any case – but you may wish to make choices about the services you avail of.
- Public, private, or semi-private!
Public care – there is a high standard of public care for both mums and babies in Ireland. For public maternity services you will attend public clinics in public hospitals. Cost is clearly a huge advantage of this option as it is free! A major downside would be the potential for long waiting times for appointments and a more crowded ward. You are also less likely to have the same doctor on each visit. This may or may not matter to you!
Semi-private care – this involves choosing a specific consultant to look after your care, mind you there is still no guarantee that you will see that consultant each time, but either they or their team member will be present at the delivery of your baby and available to the midwives during the labour in the case of any complications. You will be staying in a semi-private ward if you choose this care which generally means fewer people sharing (often 4-6 for semi private care). Shorter waiting times for appointments and appointment flexibility are advantages of this type of care. Cost is obviously an issue and a large consideration must be whether you have health insurance with maternity cover in place or not when deciding to go for this option as it can seriously impact on price! You could be looking at anywhere around 600 euro with health insurance for everything but around 4000 euro without! You need to phone the consultants receptionists to check the price and also your own health insurer to see what cover is available to you!
Private care – this involves you choosing a consultant who will be exclusively responsible for your care (unless they are on hols etc when they will get a colleague to stand in). You go to their private clinic for appointments and these are generally on time and flexible to arrange. After the birth you will stay in a private room (if available) in the maternity hospital which means you will not be sharing a room with others on a ward. Again it is essential to discuss pricing with EACH consultant and prices vary and also again discuss it with your health insurer if you have a policy in place.
Clearly the choice of maternity services you make is completely personal and there are so many factors which could effect it. Finance, personal preference, medical history or previous experience can all impact how you feel with everyone putting different weighting on the pro’s and con’s of each option! There is no ‘right’ answer – only the right choice for you no matter what you decide – but at least now you have a general idea of the options available!
Its worth noting also that there is an option to do combined care between your GP and the hospital which may be a convenient model of care for those choosing public or semi private maternity services as their appointments will be split between the GP and the hospital which can reduce waiting times and increase convenience!
- About Your Appointments
From the HSE…
“The combined medical services are provided by your family doctor (GP) and a hospital obstetrician. On your first pregnancy, the GP provides an initial examination, if possible before 12 weeks, and a further 5 examinations during the pregnancy, which are alternated with visits to the maternity unit/hospital. The schedule of visits may be changed by your GP and/or hospital obstetrician, depending on your individual situation. For subsequent pregnancies you will have an initial examination and a further 6 examinations.
If you have a significant illness, for example, diabetes or hypertension, you may have up to 5 additional visits to the GP.
After the birth, the GP will examine the baby at 2 weeks and both mother and baby at 6 weeks.”
Citizens information say that “Your first visit to hospital can be any time from 12-20 weeks in the pregnancy. The purpose of this visit is to get a full picture of your health and the health of your baby. You can expect to speak to a midwife, who will ask a range of background questions about your health and medical history. This will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions about your care and the range of services that are available to you. You will be asked for a urine sample, will have your blood pressure taken and will have blood tests. The purpose of the blood tests will be explained to you. In some hospitals, you may have an ultrasound scan on your first visit, at others you will have it at around 20 weeks.The visit lasts approximately 2 hours. If your pregnancy is normal, subsequent visits will be much shorter. Visits can be shared between the hospital and your GP or midwife.At each visit you will provide a urine sample, your blood pressure will be taken and you will be examined. If you have any questions or worries related to your pregnancy, you should ask the midwife or doctor. Most hospitals will have a system of parentcraft classes which you and your partner or friend can attend near the time of birth.
Due to the large variance in the promptness of your first scan many people choose to have an early private scan. This is often referred to as a reassurance scan which can confirm to you that your pregnancy is developing healthily and can help to get a more accurate due date if your periods have been a little irregular. Some women don’t feel the need for this extra scan and that’s completely fine too. Expect to pay around 100 euro for this – there are many companies offering the service around Ireland.
Remember your pregnancy vitamins – especially folic acid! If you haven’t been taking them already it’s a good idea to take a specific pregnancy multivitamin which contains all you need for the duration of your pregnancy. Check out the pregnacare range here!
Do eat a healthy balanced diet – remembering that there are some foods which are not suitable during pregnancy – here’s a handy guide from the HSE!
Continue to exercise – but keep it sensible – don’t take on new challenges and ensure that your breathing is always under control. Exercise is such a great stress buster and it is really good for your health -pregnant or not – but there are some exercises which require adaption to continue to be safe so do check with your doctor which activities are okay to continue with and which are not. Remember to stay hydrated and not to let yourself overheat.
I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page or my website contact page or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262.