Generally in Ireland, you will have approximately 8-10 antenatal appointments with your doctor or midwife during your pregnancy. You will visit your GP/antenatal clinic/midwife monthly until month seven, fortnightly in month eight and weekly in month nine.
You are entitled to take paid time off from your employment to attend antenatal appointments (this also includes some antenatal classes - see paragraph below). You are also entitled to take paid time off for medical visits related to the pregnancy for 14 weeks after the birth. These employment rights are protected in Irish law through the Maternity Protection Act, 1994, the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004, the Maternity Protection (Time off for ante-natal care and post-natal care) Regulations, 1995, and the Maternity Protection (Disputes and Appeals) Regulations, 1995.
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 two 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. These sessions will provide you with an opportunity to learn more about breastfeeding, nutrition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preparing you and your family for the birth of the baby.
If you become pregnant while in employment you are entitled, under employment law, to take time off to attend antenatal appointments. Similarly, you are entitled to time off for medical visits after the birth. You can read more about Maternity Leave and time off for medical visits here.
Section 8 of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 allows pregnant women to take paid time off work to attend one set of antenatal classes over all her pregnancies (but not the last three of the series of classes as these would normally occur after maternity leave has started). Similarly, the law allows expectant fathers a once-off right to paid time off work to attend the two antenatal classes immediately prior to the birth. Fathers are not entitled to paid time off for antenatal classes during every pregnancy - it’s just a once-off right only. Read more about the important rules regarding time-off work and antental classes here. The provisions regarding antenatal classes came into effect from 18th October, 2004.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.