Every women 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.
The Maternity and Infant Care Scheme provides an agreed programme of care to all expectant mothers who are ordinarily resident in Ireland. This service is provided by a family doctor (GP) of your choice and a hospital obstetrician. You are entitled to this service even if you do not have a medical card. Virtually all GPs have agreements with the Health Service Executive to provide these services; they do not have to be part of the GPs and medical cards system. The Scheme also provides for two post-natal visits to the general practitioner.
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 susequent pregnancies you will have an initial examination and a further 6 examinations.
If you have a significant illness, e.g. diabetes or hypertension, you may have up to 5 additional visits to the GP.
Care for other illnesses which you may have at this time, but which are not related to your pregnancy, is not covered by the Scheme.
After the birth, the GP will examine the baby at 2 weeks and both mother and baby at 6 weeks.
Mothers are entitled to free in-patient and out-patient public hospital services in respect of the pregnancy and the birth and are not liable for any of the standard in-patient hospital charges.
Infant Care Services
With the GP Visit Card Under 6s your child will get free GP visits, assessments at age 2 and 5 and care for children with asthma from July 1st 2015.
How can I get this new service?
Medical Card Holders - If your child or children have a Medical Card or GP Visit Card they will automatically be registered for this new scheme.
Non-Medical Card Holders - If your child or children does not have a Medical Card or GP Visit Card you must register them for this new scheme.
More details on how the scheme works and what information you need to apply for the card are available at GP Visit Card for Children Under 6
The public health nurse will also visit the mother and baby at home during the first 6 weeks and this service is free of charge.
If the baby is born in a hospital, it is usual to carry out screening for metabolic disorders (the Guthrie or heel prick test). If the baby is born at home, the test may be carried out by the GP or in the out-patients department of a hospital. This test requires parental consent.
You should contact the public health nurse at your local health centre to enquire about antenatal classes.