Maternity Care Services

Every woman who is pregnant and ordinarily resident in Ireland is entitled to maternity care under the Maternity and Infant Scheme. Ordinarily resident means you are living here, or you intend to remain living here for at least one year. 


See your GP as soon as possible to confirm you are pregnant. You can discuss the options available to you for antenatal or maternity care. Your GP can also register you for the Maternity and Infant Care scheme.


It is important to take folic acid and to get the whooping cough vaccine and the flu vaccine, which you can get from your GP.


Your GP will refer you for your first hospital antenatal appointment and dating scan.


There are 2 vaccines you should get during pregnancy:

  • whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine
  • flu vaccine


Getting these vaccines means you'll be immune to the flu and whooping cough. You'll also protect your child while they're in your womb and for the first few months of their life.


You can get both vaccines from your GP at the same time.  Both vaccines are free for pregnant women, but you may be charged a consultation fee unless you have a medical card or GP visit card.


Whooping Cough Vaccine 

You should get the vaccine:

  • during each pregnancy
  • between week 16 and 36 of your pregnancy (you can have it after 36 weeks but it's less effective)


Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is highly contagious and can be life-threatening for babies.


Flu Vaccine

If you are pregnant you should get the flu vaccine because you are at increased risk of severe complications from flu. The vaccine protects you during pregnancy. Getting the flu increases the risk of complications during your pregnancy and birth. The flu can lead to premature birth, smaller babies and stillbirth.


The flu vaccine can reduce the risk of stillbirth by over 50%. Getting the vaccine during pregnancy also protects your baby after birth. It reduces your baby’s risk of being admitted to hospital due to the flu.


You can get the flu vaccine safely at any time during pregnancy and you should get it as early as possible in your pregnancy. Flu season in Ireland usually lasts from September to the end of April. If you're pregnant during these months, you should get the flu vaccine. If you are pregnant through two flu seasons, two vaccines, one in each season, may be necessary.

Useful Links & Resources - Advice and guides from the HSE on: Pregnancy,  Labour & Birth, Babies & Toddlers, Parenting

HSE - Maternity Services


Mother and Baby - the following websites are all good resources:

  • - Irish parenting website with useful information and discussion boards on a wide range of topics.
  • - As well as new stories and advice articles, Mummypages also has a forum where parents can talk and discuss all topics regarding raising children.
  • - excellent HSE website providing practical information about how to breastfeed, local support groups, educational videos, etc.
  • - contact details for accredited lactation consultants.


Please be advised that we do not take any responsibility for the content of the websites or documents referenced on this page, or information that you may receive from them. We advise all patients to discuss their health concerns with their GP.

Stages of Pregnancy

The first trimester (weeks 0-13):

  • The baby's development is greatest during this stage. By the end of week 13, it will be fully formed.
  • Some of the common discomforts of pregnancy, such as nausea, fatigue and breast tenderness, will be most pronounced during these early weeks.

The second trimester (weeks 14-26):

  • During this time, the baby continues to grow and develop and the mother starts to gain some weight as extra fat is laid down as energy reserves.
  • The baby's movements in the womb can be felt and they may begin to develop patterns of activity.

The third trimester (weeks 27-birth):

  • The baby will start to lay down its own fat stores, going through rapid growth phases in preparation for birth.
  • The baby's lungs will mature and senses such as hearing, taste and sight will develop.
  • You may find it more difficult to get comfortable at night and you will need to urinate more often.
  • Practice contractions, known as Braxton Hicks, can be a regular feature.