The Maternity and Infant Care Scheme provides an agreed programme of care to all expectant mothers who live in Ireland. The 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 HSE to provide these services; they do not have to be part of the medical card scheme.. The Scheme also provides for two post-natal visits to the general practitioner.
The GP provides an initial examination, if possible before 12 weeks, and a further 6 examinations during the pregnancy, which are alternated with visits to the maternity unit/hospital. The schedule of visits may be changed by your general practitioner and/or hospital obstetrician depending on your individual situation.
Where an expectant mother suffers from a significant illness, e.g. diabetes or hypertension, up to 5 additional visits to the GP may be provided. Care in respect of illnesses which are co-incidental with, but not related to your pregnancy does not form part of the Scheme.
After the birth, the GP will examine the baby at 2 weeks and both mother and baby at 6 weeks.
The GP who attends the mother also provides care for the new-born baby. This entails two developmental exams during the first 6 weeks following the birth, that are free of charge. The baby's entitlement to free GP services depends on whether the parents have a medical card. This means that visits to the GP for any conditions related to the baby's health during this six week period or afterwards are not covered by the scheme unless the parents have a medical card.
The public health nurse visits the mother and baby at home during the first 6 weeks.
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.
Your GP should have the necessary forms for application for services under the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme