Having a baby in Ireland presents you with multiple options within the maternity services. We have listed these options so that you can choose the one that suits you.


What is the Maternity & Infant Scheme?

  • It provides free Maternity care to all expectant mothers in Ireland

  • The Scheme is provided by your GP alongside a hospital obstetrician / midwife / self-employed community midwife

  • You don’t need to have medical / GP visit card

  • Most GP’s in Ireland cover the scheme

  • You are also covered for two post-natal visits to a G.P.


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Home Birth Options


1. Self Employed Community Midwives

  • Midwife is registered with HSE but practices independently

  • Midwife will provide all of your antenatal and postnatal care

  • Often there is a choice to do shared care with G.P

  • You will usually register with hospital of your choice

  • Blood tests and scans then take place there

  • Midwife will attend your birth in your own home

  • Available to low risk women

  • The service is a free service but there may be a top up charge levied by individual midwives depending on where in the country you are based.

  • Always a second midwife on the scheme paid by the HSE (but again depending on where you are there may be an additional cost).

  • Some private health insurance schemes may provide cover for this service

2. Hospital Homebirth Scheme

  • Offered in certain hospitals around Ireland

  • Where offered, there will be a catchment area

  • Small team of community midwives will provide your antenatal care in your home, community or hospital

  • Postnatal care is provided at home

  • Usually done in conjunction with G.P, under shared care scheme

  • If any complications arrive during your pregnancy or labour you will be transferred to hospital care

  • May have option to labour in a birth pool

  • Free service

3. Private Midwives Ireland

  • Provides Private Midwifery Care

  • New development in maternal care in Ireland

  • Not a free service, there will be a fee

  • Provides all your antenatal care once booking commences

  • You need to book in with hospital of choice

  • Provides antenatal and postnatal care to client’s individual needs

  • Provides home birth service but also antenatal care, postnatal support in hospital.

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Hospital Birth Options


Your choices are between the obstetrician or the midwife care options. Each option has a number of supports available to you.

Obstetrician Care

1. Public System
2. Semi-Private System
3. Private System

Midwife Led Care

4. Midwife Clinic
5. Domino Scheme
6. Early Transfer Scheme
7. Midwife Led Unit

Obstetrician Care

1. Public System

  • You attend antenatal clinic in the hospital or community

  • Usually see midwife first on each visit

  • You will see a consultant (or a Registrar or SHO)

  • You will probably see someone different on each appointment

  • During labour you will have midwife support

  • You may not see consultant during labour unless needed

  • After birth you will stay in public ward (1-5 days depending on birth experience)

  • Free service

2. Semi-Private System

  • You will attend a semi-private clinic and see a consultant or his / her team

  • You may not see the same person for each visit

  • Consultant / member of the team may attend birth, if they are available

  • You may get a semi-private room after the birth of your baby, but it’s not guaranteed

  • It is not a free service, there will be a fee (averaging €1,000)

  • If you have private health insurance your plan may cover some/all of the costs of this fee

3. Private System

  • You choose your own consultant & meet them at every antenatal visit

  • They will usually attend your hospital birth

  • Hospital birth will be in a public hospital

  • You may get a private room after the birth of your baby

  • Not a free service, there is a fee (averaging €4,000)

  • If you have private health insurance your plan may cover some of this fee

Midwife Led Care

4. Midwife Clinic

  • Antenatal service only - for low risk women

  • You see a midwife at antenatal visits (hospital / community)

  • Not available in all hospitals

  • During labour you will have access to both midwife and consultant care

  • Waiting times are reduced

  • If you become high risk during pregnancy you will switch back to obstetrician led care

5. Domino Scheme

  • Antenatal care provided by a team of midwives, usually in a community setting

  • Same team of community midwives will support you during your hospital birth

  • Transfer home within 6-12 hours of giving birth

  • Postnatal visits at home (up to 5 -10 days after the birth)

  • Available to low risk women

  • Not available in all hospitals

  • There is usually a catchment area

  • If your pregnancy or labour you become high risk, you switch to obstetrician led care

6. Early Transfer Home

  • Post Natal Care

  • Available to low risk women

  • Women leave hospital 12 - 36 hours after birth of baby

  • Postnatal care then takes place in their own home

  • Can be booked after birth of baby

  • Many hospitals offer this service

  • There is usually a catchment area

  • Option may also be open using semi-private care

7. Midwife Led Unit

  • 2 separate units in Ireland: OLOL Drogheda and Cavan General Hospital

  • Small team of midwives working in the units

  • Units are more home-like than on a hospital labour ward

  • Both units have birth pools available for women to labour in

  • Emphasis is on physiological birth

  • Early transfer home (from 6 hours after birth of your baby)

  • Home visits from team of midwives up to a week after birth

  • Daily phone support provided in the first week as well

  • Available to low risk women

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doula support


1. Birth Doula

Birth Doulas are there to provide you with physical, emotional and educational support throughout your pregnancy and will be there alongside you and your birth partner as you have your baby.They are committed to providing non-biased, evidence-based information should you require it and are there to support you during your labour to have a positive birth experience. A doula is there to support you and your birth partner with your choices. They will not take over and tell you what you should do; they provide non-biased and evidence-based information so that you can make informed decisions every step of the way.Often the woman’s birth partner will worry if the couple hire a doula they will be left out. However, in our experience, doulas can be a fantastic resource for your birth partner as well. They can support and guide your partner offering them knowledge, tools and information to help you during your labour. They can also enable your partner to take a break - even just to go to the toilet or get some food.A doula can attend your birth in a hospital or home setting. Normally yourself and your birth partner will meet with your doula once or twice during your pregnancy to help you write up your birth plan, go over comfort techniques with you, or provide birth preparation - depending on your individual needs.

With these visits, couples can chat about what their ideal birth would be or any fears they may have. These visits are also a chance to talk about the benefits and risks of various options that can be offered to a couple during the birth. When labour begins, while a doula cannot speak up for the couple, they are able to remind them of the discussions during pregnancy so that the couples can make an informed decision on the day.From 37 weeks on, your doula will be on-call for you and when you go into labour is there to support you until your baby arrives. During this time the doula will be at the end of the phone day or night if needed.When labour begins the Mum usually calls the doula when she feels she needs that extra support - usually when labour is becoming more intense. A doula will reassure the Mum and her partner, remind her how great she is doing, offer physical comfort measures to Mum to help her manage her labour, remind her to eat and drink, help her partner to support her and a myriad of other supports.Often women think that since they are hoping for an epidural that they will not need a doula. However, a doula can be a great support with an epidural as well. They are there to keep Mum company if their partner needs to take a break or if Mum is feeling anxious, they also have tools such as the peanut ball which can help reduce the rate of Caesarean births that can increase with having an epidural.Depending on the package you choose, after your baby is born there will be postnatal visits offered by your doula, and some women choose to hire a post-partum doula to help them postnatally as well.

2. Postpartum Doula

Postpartum Doulas provide non-medical physical and emotional support and household assistance after the birth of your baby(ies).They provide evidence based support to help your emotional and physical recovery from birth and assist you with the care and feeding of your new baby, including breastfeeding assistance, bathing, and comfort measures.A Doula will not take over care of your baby, but assist you in learning to care for your baby’s needs yourself. They assist with family adjustment, including sibling emotions or savouring your new dynamic in your relationship with your partner and family. They can provide childcare during naps so that parents can get some much needed rest.Doulas will also be glad to do some light housekeeping including laundry, household organization and tidying. Many Doulas are wonderful cooks and bakers and love nothing more than preparing home cooked meals to stock your fridge!Postpartum Doulas help each family ease into the transition of parenthood. Finding their new ‘normal’ or balance. Each family a doula will work with is unique and postpartum doula support will allow your family to thrive during those first few weeks with your baby, not just survive!

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Something to Consider...

  • Irish Maternity System is mainly obstetric led

  • This means that the vast majority of women will be under the care of an obstetrician and their team

  • Obstetricians are trained to deal with difficulties during pregnancy and labour and high risk cases

  • Most Irish women (approx. 85%) will have normal pregnancies

  • Some of the options mentioned may not be available in your area, or may only be available in a limited capacity

  • Others may not be available due to your health, or how your level of risk is perceived

  • Do your research and make an informed decision as to which option is the right one for you

  • Work toward making that option happen, if possible

useful contacts


List of Self Employed Community Midwives (SECM)

SECMContact No.AreaWebsite
Niamh Bates086 155 6115Dublinn/a
Nanni Schultz086 331 1531Dublinmidwife-nanni.com
Ali Murphy087 222 3100Dublinn/a
Carolyn Coughlan086 358 3245Dublindublinhomebirth.com
Aine Hennessy085 729 7529Kildareahmidwifery.com
Angela Cotter086 885 3577WestmeathFacebook Page
Aisling Dickson087 764 1447Westmeathn/a
Brenda O'Toole086 832 8858Laoisaleanbh-antenatal.ie
Deirdre O'Leary Vos083 866 9209Corkwestcorkmidwiferycare.ie
Mary Cronin087 279 6325Corkcorkandkerryhomebirth.com
Caroline Corcoran089 256 6198Corkcorkmidwife.ie
Elke Hasner087 252 5771Corkcorkhomebirth.ie

Maternity Hospitals in Republic of Ireland

DublinCoombe Women's HospitalNational Maternity HospitalHolles StreetRotunda Hospital   
South & South EastCork University Maternity HospitalKerry General Hospital, TraleeSouth Tipperary General HospitalSt Luke's General Hospital KilkennyWaterford Regional HospitalWexford General Hospital
West & North WestGalway University HospitalsLetterkenny General HospitalMayo General Hospital, CastlebarPortiuncula Hospital, BallinasloeSligo General Hospital 
MidwestUniversity Maternity Hospital, Limerick     
North EastCavan / Monaghan Hospital GroupOur Lady Of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda    
MidlandsMidland Regional Hospital MullingarMidland Regional Hospital Portlaoise    

Maternity Hospitals in Northern Ireland

*Alongside Midwifery Led Unit | ^Stand Alone Midwifery Led Unit)

Belfast AreaRoyal Jubilee Maternity Hospital Delivery SuiteActive Birth Centre at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital*Midwife Led Unit at the Mater Hospital^The Labour Ward at the Ulster HospitalUlster Hospital Home From Home*
AntrimThe Delivery Suite at the Causeway HospitalThe Labour Ward at Antrim Area Hospital   
LisburnLagan Valley Hospital Midwife Led Unit^    
DownpatrickDowne Hospital Midwife Led Unit^    
NewryDaisy Hill Hospital Midwife Led Unit*    
CraigavonDelivery Suite in Craigavon Area HospitalCraigavon Area Hospital Midwife Led Unit*   
EnniskillenThe Delivery Suite in South Western Acute HospitalSouth Western Acute Hospital Midwife Led Unit*   
Derry/LondonderryThe Delivery Suite in Altnagelvin Area HospitalAltnagelvin Midwife Led Unit*   

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© 2021 Birth Options | website: rothklee