Prenatal Checks, Screening and Scans

What new parents should do in preparation for their new baby...

Any woman who believes she may be pregnant should start by having the pregnancy confirmed, ideally by her doctor. To find a local doctor, refer to the Yellow Pages. Many practices have English-speaking doctors. Ante-natal care can be undertaken by professionals in private practice or via government-run clinics.

The Family Health Service provides a comprehensive range of services for women under 64, as well as babies and young children from birth to five years. These services are accessed via 31 Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHCs) and three Women's Health Centres (WHCs). Ante-natal services in these government-run clinics are free of charge for eligible residents.

The MCHCs operate a shared-care programme, in collaboration with the obstetric department of public hospitals. These regular check-ups monitor the whole pregnancy and delivery.

Once the pregnancy has been confirmed contact the nearest centre – many operate a booking system for new appointments or give a time window when new cases should attend. Much of this information is available online. After an initial visit, the pregnant woman will be issued with a record card which she must take on subsequent visits.

On her first appointment the woman should take the required documentation and a urine sample with her.

Appointments typically include checks on urine, blood pressure and foetal movement and heartbeat. If any abnormalities are detected the woman will be referred to an obstetrician. Further information can be obtained from the Department of Health Family Health Service.

Advice and organisations

Educational programmes on pregnancy and childcare-related topics are available at MCHCs. Other organisations such as La Leche League also offer prenatal advice and classes. Some services are free of charge. The majority of public hospitals provide ante-natal classes for a small fee.

Midwifery services and private organisations can support women through the pregnancy, birth and beyond. Private hospitals also offer pre-natal care at a cost. Contact the hospital directly for details of services and charges.