At the early days of your pregnancy you may want to keep it a secret from friends and family; but there are so many questions you want to ask! The first 12-14 weeks (1st trimester) of your pregnancy passes by so quickly. But it’s still a time that many women become anxious regarding different aspects of their pregnancy.
By now you will have preformed a pregnancy test and gotten a positive result. But what now? Some women choose to visit their GP so they can confirm their pregnancy and write a letter to the Maternity Hospital they will be attending for their pregnancy. A lot of women assume that this visit to the GP is covered under the Mother & Child Scheme (M&CS) and they won’t have to pay. However you will have to pay your GP for this visit. The M&CS entitles all women who are pregnant to free antenatal care and postnatal care if they choose it. If you choose semi-private or private care, this is not covered and you will have to pay.
 Many women make the mistake of not making an early appointment for their first visit to the hospital – believe it or not you should ring your maternity hospital and book in ASAP. Due to the increasing birth rate many women don’t get a scheduled first visit until they are 14-16 weeks pregnant. The first booking appointment should be done ideally at about 10 weeks (NICE Guidelines 2008). At your first appointment you should expect to answer a series of questions without your partner present (to ensure complete privacy) regarding your health, any medical conditions/surgeries, smoking /alcohol consumption/drug misuse/ previous pregnancies. This ‘interview’ can take 30-40 minutes to complete so make sure your partner has sufficient reading material with him and knows where the coffee shop is.
At this stage you will also be expected to have blood tests taken. These blood tests are routine and test for ; your blood type/group, HIV, Syphilis, Chlamydia, your level of immunity to rubella (german measles) and  Varicella (chicken pox). The reason you are tested routinely for these diseases and your level of immunity to them is because you may need some form of treatment to protect your baby and pregnancy. Some hospitals also do a dating scan at this stage. This may be done in the scanning department or in the out-patient dept. Some maternity hospitals then ask you to return in 2-3 weeks after this (when all your blood tests are back) to see the doctor on your first visit. In other hospitals you may see the doctor after your blood tests and interview with the midwife. Generally you should expect approx 10 visits between the GP/hospital during your first pregnancy and fewer visits on your second and subsequent pregnancies.
Some women are disappointed after their first visit. They feel that the midwife or the doctor weren’t as excited as they are about their pregnancy; or maybe they feel the whole visit was a rush and they forgot to ask all the questions they’ve had. Some women feel that it’s a long time to wait for a scan to confirm their pregnancy and when they do have their scan that they found it difficult to see their baby on the monitor. Some women schedule private scans before their visit to the hospital (6-8 weeks). You can expect to pay between €150-€200 for this scan which is generally not done within the hospital setting. There is no medical reason to have an early scan, but some women find it a reassuring way to confirm their pregnancy and enjoy seeing their little baby at this stage.
Read more on early pregnancy bleeding and week by week pregnancy at
Gráinne Grundy RGN RM - Mama & Me
Gráinne holds monthly antenatal classes in Kildare