If you are expecting a baby or are already a mum or dad you may need to contact different services or people at different times for help and support. It can be quite hard to understand who does what and where you should go for what service. This is a list of Who’s Who to help you work it out. See the Help When you Need it Section for other supports available.
General Practitioner (GP)/Family Doctor.
Your doctor may be one of the first people you make contact with about being pregnant. He/she can provide care for you and your baby right through pregnancy and after your baby is born. If you need to find a new Doctor, they are usually listed in the telephone directory/Golden Pages under Doctors- General Practitioners. When choosing one, make sure you can reach their surgery easily with a small baby. You should contact the doctor’s surgery to ask to go on his/her patient list. You or your family may already have a Medical Card, this entitles you to free visits with your doctor and most prescribed medications. A GP only allows you free doctor visits but you must pay for any medication prescribed. Once your pregnancy has been confirmed by your doctor your visits to him/her will be free until your baby is 6 weeks even if you don’t have a medical card or GP card.
This is the clinic in the maternity hospital where you will go for check ups during your pregnancy. Your doctor will usually make the first appointment for you, or you can do it yourself as soon as you know you are pregnant.
These are special classes usually run by the maternity hospital to help you prepare for the birth of your baby. They are usually free and can be booked through the hospital or the ante-natal clinic. Some classes in some hospitals can be just for teenagers but usually they are mixed ages. You would usually go towards the end of your pregnancy for about 4-6 classes.
An obstetrician is the doctor in charge of your care at the maternity hospital during pregnancy and for the birth of your baby. Your GP will usually book you into the maternity hospital under the care of a specific obstetrician.
These are the nurses in the maternity hospital and ante-natal clinics who will care for you during your pregnancy, while your baby is being born and afterwards while you are still in hospital. Public Health Nurse These are nurses who work in the community and in the health centres. Usually a public health nurse will visit you when you get home from hospital with your baby. They can give you lots of advice about feeding and caring for your baby. You can also bring your baby to the public health nurse in your local health centre for development checks or if you need some support or information.
Crisis Pregnancy Counselling Services
These are agencies who provide counselling and support if you have an unplanned pregnancy and want to talk with someone about it. These services are free.
Teen Parents Support Programme.
This is a service which is now available in some parts of the country and is especially for teenage parents. You can get support and information during pregnancy and after your baby is born about a range of things like caring for you and your baby, money and benefits, housing, education and training and local services as well as someone to talk to.
Are part of the health service (HSE) and work with families in the community who are having difficulties. There will also be a social worker in the maternity hospital who will usually meet with you if you are a teenage parent, to make sure that you are ok about looking after you and your baby.
Family Resource Centres
These are community based centres in many areas, where local people can go for various activities and supports. Many offer mother and toddler/baby groups, education programmes, literacy classes or drop in social sessions. Some have crčches or play groups. They may also have local information on what’s on in your local area.
Social Welfare Officers
Are part of the Department of Social and Family Affairs and are based at the Social Welfare Office (Unemployment office). You can apply to them for payments such as Jobseekers Allowance/Benefit Maternity Benefit, One Parent Family Payment and Child Benefit.
Community Welfare Officers.
Are part of the local health service (HSE). You can apply to your local Community Welfare Officer (CWO) for medical cards, rent allowance, Back to School Clothing Allowance and for supplementary benefit or emergency payments if you are in extreme need. You may need to apply for money to keep you going after the baby is born, while you wait for your One Parent Family payments to come through. Your local HSE office can tell you where your nearest officer can be reached.