Maternity options in Ireland
Labour & birth

Maternity options in Ireland

For a first-time mum, deciding which type of maternity care to choose can be perplexing. We asked some mums to share their experiences of antenatal care and maternity options in Ireland.


“I chose a home birth. I had the same midwife throughout my pregnancy. She came to my house for antenatal visits. By the time it came to giving birth I knew her well and trusted her. I didn’t have to worry about getting to a hospital. I could just relax in my home when I went into labour with my own bed, music, food, drinks, bath, shower, i.e. all the comforts of home. I didn’t have to share a ward with anyone. I felt completely in charge of my birthing experience. My midwife called to the house every day for a fortnight after my little girl was born to help with breastfeeding, bathing and all the other things you need to learn with a newborn. It was bliss!”

– Miram Devitt


“Having spoken to family and friends, I decided to go private in a Dublin-based maternity hospital. I booked in with a doctor who a friend had recommended to me. He was an absolute gentleman and was a pleasure to deal with. He looked after me very well throughout my pregnancy and brought me in a week early to be induced.

When I finally went into labour, I was brought to the delivery suite, however my placenta abrupted so the midwife paged my doctor immediately, who was there for me within a minute.

They explained that I would have to undergo an emergency C Section. After the birth, the doctor brought my son to my husband and reassured him that I was okay.

When I woke up after the C-section I was looked after very well. I was kept in for four nights and my doctor regularly visited to see how I was doing, to inspect the wound and make sure it was healing well. I was very grateful for him safely delivering my little boy and for taking such good care of me. I’m now expecting my second baby in a few weeks time and I’m under the same doctor’s care again. I think if people can afford to go private, it’s definitely worth it – it put my mind at ease knowing how well I was cared for, not only by my doctor, but all of the staff involved.”

– Caroline Cassidy


“I thought a lot about whether to go public or private. There was much to consider, but in the end I decided to go public in the Dublin hospital where my siblings and I were born. Issues such as having a particular consultant deliver my baby and having a private room were not important to me.

From the day I nervously attended my first appointment, to the day I returned to the emergency room because I had a problem with my stitches, I received the most amazing and genuine care from the staff. There is something very special about those amazing midwives.

The consultants are great, but in my experience it was the midwives who provided the most sympathetic level of care. I ended up staying in the hospital for five days after I gave birth to Billy and I received a level of support from the staff that almost felt as though they were going through the experience with me. If I am lucky enough to have another baby in the future I will definitely attend as a public patient again. They brought my beautiful baby Billy safely in to the world, and for that I am forever and eternally grateful.”

– Tracey Quinn


“I had my first baby just over three years ago as a public patient. The midwife, who helped me to deliver was so kind.

When my baby girl was born she needed medical attention, which the midwife reacted to immediately. She was monitored closely for the next couple of days in the Special Care Baby Unit and was not discharged from the unit to me on the ward until they were confident that she had made a full recovery.

I was also taken care of very well and I was allowed to visit her as much as I could. I also wanted to breastfeed, but wasn’t sure if I could. They encouraged me and assisted me with great patience and no pressure. Every member of the nursing staff on the maternity ward was fabulous, I couldn’t say enough about them.”

– Mary-Aine Casey

Private and semi-private

“I have had four births so far in one of the Dublin maternity hospitals and am due another baby now. On my first and second babies I chose private care mainly because we could afford it at the time as we were both working and I felt that if there was a medical emergency, my consultant would be at hand to deal with it.

Unfortunately, that was not the case with my first baby. The consultant went off duty for the weekend as I arrived into the hospital in labour. As a result, when I did need assistance in delivery, another doctor delivered the baby for me.

When I was readmitted a week later with several infections my consultant was not on duty again for the weekend. I also found that the waiting times for each appointment were always fairly long for scheduled pregnancy appointments, but thankfully both my baby and I were very healthy.

I chose a different consultant on my second baby who was far more receptive to my queries during the course of the pregnancy. As it happens, he didn’t make it in time for the delivery either but I realised that the midwives do a lot of the work anyway. I feel that there is really no need for a consultant at that point unless there is a difficulty and I am not so sure how important it is that they have met you before , in that case?

On my third birth, I chose to go semi-private, but unfortunately miscarried at 21 weeks. I can’t fault the care, which was wonderful and sensitive to our circumstances. I had a private room for delivery and they even allowed my husband to stay overnight with me and my baby’s body until I was discharged the next day.

On my next baby, I chose to go semi-private again. The cost was €750, but then I also had to pay for all scans so the total was over €1,000 in the end, only some of which was reimbursable through our health insurance.

The waiting times were long (average 60-90 minutes) despite appointments given and then I ended up in the diabetes clinic for the last trimester so I was treated the same as all the public patients. This is only right that I be treated the same, but it did negate the cost of me paying for semi-private treatment.

I am now due my fourth baby (fifth birth) and have chosen to go public. So far, the care is entirely equal. The waiting times at the appointments are fine – still an hour or so but the midwives are very efficient.

Like with the semi-private appointments, I may not meet the lead consultant but someone on their team and I still get a small scan at each consultant visit. The only thing I have had to pay for is the optional nuchal translucency scan at 12 weeks, which was cheaper as a public patient than it was as a private or semiprivate patient!

My experience has been over the span of eight years from my eldest to now and I have noticed an improvement in maternity services overall in that time too, so while the staff are most definitely overstretched they are doing their very best to be as efficient as they can with the resources they have.”

Antenatal options in Ireland

Choosing the model of care you receive during your pregnancy can be daunting, particularly if you are a first-time mother. The options available in Ireland include Midwifery-Led Units, Domino Midwives, Community Midwives including a homebirth service, combined antenatal care (G.P. and hospital), public care, semiprivate care and private care. Go to to find further information on all of these options.

More you might like:

Water birth in Ireland
Should I write a birth plan?
Home birth in Ireland


Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….


Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.