How do I find information on what choices in maternity care are available to me?

The AIMS Ireland blog 42 weeks is a fantastic resource for up to date, unbiased, evidence-based information on maternity services in Ireland. Take a look at some of our articles here.

Cuidiú-Irish Childbirth Trust Consumer Guide to the Maternity Services in Ireland is a terrific source of information on childbirth choices in Ireland and nationwide birth statistics by maternity unit.

The current guide can be accessed here.

For more information you can also contact:
AIMS Ireland at info@aimsireland.com

The Home Birth Association at www.homebirth.ie

Your local maternity hospital (see Links page)

Am I eligible for the MLU (Midwife Led Unit) in Ireland?

The following is the most current eligibility information for the Midwife Led Units (MLU) in Drogheda and Cavan.

Exclusion criteria for midwifery-led unit delivery

· Booking visit after 24 weeks
· ≥40years of age and ≤16 years age at delivery
· Grand multiparity (>5)
· BMI <18 or ≥30
· Medical History
. respiratory, renal, infective, immune, neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, haematological, endocrine,    mental health, musculoskeletal.
· Social
. Current history of drug misuse
. Smoking ≥15 cigarettes per day
· Latex allergy
· Previous obstetric history
. History of preterm birth at < 34 completed weeks gestation, Recurrent miscarriage, Moderate to severe pre-eclampsia (see detailed guidelines), Intra Uterine Growth Restriction (see detailed guidelines), Caesarean section, previous unexplained stillbirth, eclampsia, uterine rupture, placental abruption, PUPP, Obstetric cholestasis, 3rd or 4th degree tear, definitive PPH , manual removal of placenta, shoulder dystocia, neonatal death, infant with hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy, midtrimester miscarriage
· Previous gynaecological history
. Uterine surgery, Myomectomy, Hysterotomy, Cone biopsy (unless subsequent term vaginal delivery), Lletz procedure, Hydatidiform mole, Cervical cerclage, Infertility (see detailed guidelines), Uterine anomaly

** If you do not meet the HSE’s eligibility for MLU birth, you have the right to seek an individual assessment. While the MLU eligibility does not recognise individual assessment in policy, women have secured this birth option in the past when seeking a review of their medical history for consideration.

Am I eligible for a homebirth in Ireland?

The HSE eligibility criteria for recommended obstetric led birth and individual assessment can be found on the HSE website here: http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/3/maternity/homebirth.html

How do I obtain a copy of my hospital file?

If, for any reason, you wish to obtain a copy of files relating to your care from your hospital, you may do so by contacting them in writing.

You can download a printable copy of the AIMS Ireland information leaflet on this subject here:

FOI Request

What is Freedom of Information?

The Freedom of Information Act came into effect on 21 April, 1998 and was amended on 11 April 2003. This Act gives you the right to access records held by Government Departments and certain public bodies. You do not have to give a reason as to why you want to see any records. The Government Department or body must give you an explanation if you are not given what you ask for. A decision on your application must normally be made within 4 weeks.
What can I ask for?
You can ask for the following records held by Government Departments or certain public bodies:

  • any records relating to you personally, whenever created;
  • all other records created after 21 April, 1998;
  • A ‘record’ can be a paper document, information held on computer, printouts, maps, plans, microfilm, microfiche, audio-visual material, etc.

See www.foi.gov.ie for more details.

What is the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme?

The Maternity and Infant Care Scheme provides an agreed programme of care to all expectant mothers who are ordinarily resident in Ireland. In this scheme, care is shared between a GP and the hospital. Mothers are entitled to free pregnancy related care from their GP and hospital during their pregnancy and up to 6 weeks post birth.

The GP who attends the mother also provides care for the newborn baby. This entails two developmental exams during the first 6 weeks following the birth that are free of charge. The baby’s entitlement to other free GP services is dependant on the parents having a medical card.

For more information please visit Citizens Information.

Am I entitled to maternity leave?

If you become pregnant while in employment in Ireland, you are entitled to take maternity leave. The entitlement to a basic period of maternity leave from employment extends to all female employees in Ireland (including casual workers), regardless of how long you have been working for the organisation or the number of hours worked per week. You can also avail of additional unpaid maternity leave.

If you start maternity leave on or after 1 March 2007, you are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave, together with 16 weeks’ additional unpaid maternity leave. At least 2 weeks have to be taken before the end of the week of your baby’s expected birth and at least 4 weeks after. You can decide how you would like to take the remaining weeks.

Will I be paid while I’m on maternity leave?

You may qualify for Maternity Benefit which is a Department of Social Protection payment if you have sufficient PRSI contributions.
If You Are Employed You Must Have
At least 39 weeks PRSI paid in the 12 month period before the first day of your maternity leave;


At least 39 weeks PRSI paid since first starting work and, in general, at least 39 weeks PRSI paid or credited in the second last complete tax year before the year in which your maternity leave commences. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2007, the relevant tax year is 2005. If a tax year later than the relevant tax year has ended before the start of your maternity leave (in this case 2006) contributions in that tax year may be used to help you qualify for maternity benefit.


At least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the relevant tax year and at least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the tax year prior to the relevant tax year. This provision applies to you if your maternity leave began on or after 23 March 2001. If you failed to qualify on the basis of the contribution conditions up to 23 March 2001, you are only entitled to claim maternity leave for any period of unexpired certified leave after 23 March 2001.

If You Are Self-Employed You Must Have
52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the relevant tax year before the year in which your claim is made


52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year prior to the relevant tax year before the year in which your claim is made


52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year later than the relevant tax year (applicable from April 2002)

If you are now self-employed but you were in insurable employment before you became self-employed, the PRSI contributions (Class A, E and H) paid by you in that employment may help you qualify for Maternity Benefit if you do not satisfy the self-employment conditions as stated above.

How the Amount of Maternity Benefit Is Calculated
If you are employed, your weekly rate of Maternity Benefit is calculated by dividing your gross income in the relevant tax year by the number of weeks you actually worked in that year. 80% of this amount is payable weekly, subject to a minimum payment of €207.80 and a maximum payment of €280.00. (The Relevant Tax Year is the second last complete income tax year before the year in which your maternity leave starts).

If you are self-employed, your weekly rate of Maternity Benefit is calculated by dividing your gross income in the relevant tax year by 52 weeks – 80% of this amount is payable weekly, subject to a minimum payment and a maximum payment.

You need to apply for the payment 6 weeks before you intend to go on maternity leave (12 weeks if you are self-employed).

You can download the required maternity benefit form here.